Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Book Two, Chapter 9

In the ninth chapter of the second book of The Fellowship of the Ring, I am so astounded that I did not figure out that one thing because now I realize it’s not even like it was hidden from me. I feel like a fool. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


Oh, we’ll get there, my children. But let me get there before you make fun of me!

There’s a lot of traveling and pretty scenery in chapter nine, though it’s now by boat instead of walking! That sounds a lot more harsh than I intend it to be. The events of the last few chapters cast a pall of doom and fear over everything that’s in these pages, and it’s one of the more impressive aspects of chapter nine. This is not like before; we are finally aware of the great stakes of this journey, of the possible ramifications of destroying the Ring, of the uncertainty that still remains, and the force that’s still pursuing them. Before, there was a direct purpose to their movements. They had an end location, and they knew what was there. Now, things feel slightly aimless. Even if they might be heading to Minas Tirith, it’s still a might.

Oh god, Gandalf, where are you? Oh, right, you’re dead. Thanks for that, Tolkien.

The fact that nothing eventful happens for a few pages is honestly the worst part of this for me. I know it’s because something else is going to come bursting out of the pages. It works so well as a technique to develop tension. I’ve said it a few times, but the amount of tension that’s built up so far is unbelievable to me. WE ARE STILL IN THE FIRST “BOOK” AND I CAN BARELY HANDLE THIS. In a way, it’s a neat use and commentary on the nature of suspense as a narrative device. I think most stories use this in some form, even if we are familiar with the trope or archetype at hand. Sometimes, it’s entirely possible that because we are so familiar with a certain type of story, we derive that suspense because we come to expect a certain ending, and we are therefore interested to see if things end that way. (I think that, by and large, this is a subtext to A Game of Thrones as a single book, which takes a very specific version of the fantasy trope of a moral character in an immortal world, and then destroys us forever when that does not play out as we think it should. But I could spend a couple years talking about trope inversions when it comes to that man, so allow me to end this parenthetical and move on.)

Tolkien is operating on a different wavelength for me, and it’s an example of one of the more pure forms of suspense that I’ve come across: I genuinely have no clue how this is going to be resolved. I think this relies on a couple things, namely that this book is the blueprint for a lot of fantasy tropes that follow after it. But I am not entirely sure what those tropes are. Killing off Dumbledore and adding in the entire Galadriel/Lórien plotline has skewed my whole view of this book because it complicates what I thought would be a much more straightforward narrative.

At the same time, Tolkien isn’t afraid to constantly develop the other seven characters who make up the Company aside from Frodo. Now I’ve got to keep Boromir’s weird behavior in mind, as well as Sam’s reluctance and sadness, as well as Aragorn’s unknown history with Arwen, as well as the possibility that Miras Tirith is going to derail the whole story, as well as the fact that if Gandalf can die before we’re even a third of the way through the story, so can anyone else.

I know it’s a constant joke about how unprepared I am all the time, but it’s this obsession I have with narrative suspense that this is based on. There’s nothing quite like the experience of feeling unprepared, especially since we rarely want to feel this way outside of a fictional world. The beauty of fiction is in crafting a believable scenario, one we immerse ourselves into so fully that we forget details and foreshadowing, one where we are completely lost in for days and days.

I am so lost inside the world of Middle-earth, and I loving every second of it. Also, can y’all just get a bunch of pillows and tissues ready for me? If there’s anything that this chapter does for me, it acts as a giant warning that the future of this is going to destroy me forever. SEE I AM TRYING TO PREPARE MYSELF OKAY.

wait can i make a joke i desperately need to make

‘Swans!’ said Sam. ‘And mighty big ones too!’

‘Yes,’ said Aragorn, ‘and they are black swans.’

LOOK SORRY I HAD TO. IT WAS TOTALLY NECESSARY AND PROBABLY LEGALLY REQUIRED AS WELL. So let me now turn my attention to actually discussing this chapter in some substantive way. This all feels so new precisely because it’s not characters walking along some path or dirt road in the forest, and sticking them on a river injects a new energy into the prose. As I said before, it’s a neat way to keep the reader on their toes as well, especially as the landscape changes:

Sam looked from bank to bank uneasily. The trees had seemed hostile before, as if they harboured secret eyes and lurking dangers; now he wished that the trees were still there. He felt that the Company was too naked, afloat in little open boats in the midst of shelterless lands, and on a river that was the frontier of war.

What a fantastic sentence, and what an effective way to make us afraid. Claustrophobic, uncertain spaces are often used to frighten us, but I adore the idea that wide open space can do the exact same thing. Here, though, it’s the threat of orcs, who we haven’t seen in a long time, that add yet another layer of awful to the already-ridiculous frame of that story. And after a couple more uneventful days pass by, that’s when I just feel…silly.

The creature with the glowing eyes, the one that’s been following the Company for DAYS, appears again. As I spent actual energy and time trying to figure out what this thing was, reading over passages to determine if the physical description gave any clues to what new creature this is, and then getting excited when Frodo finally decides to discuss this weird occurrence out loud with another character, I get this passage, and then I just feel ridiculous.

‘I don’t like my thoughts; but thinking of one thing and another, and Mr. Bilbo’s stories and all, I fancy I could put a name on the creature, at a guess. A nasty name. Gollum, maybe?’

I’ll just spell this out now: I have never felt, in all my experience of writing Mark Reads in the last seventeen months of my life, this embarrassed about missing a plot detail or a “mystery.” I have never felt so clueless and then so foolish in such a rapid space of time. TOLKIEN WASN’T EVEN REALLY HIDING THIS, WAS HE? I mean, it’s so terribly obvious that now I imagine the bulk of the rot13 in the comments is just y’all shouting at one another. WHAT IS WRONG WITH THIS GUY, I FIGURED THIS OUT A HUNDRED PAGES AGO. Or: LOL I HAVE NEVER SEEN A MORE DENSE PERSON IN MY WHOLE LIFE. Or: LET US PREPARE A SLEW OF GIFS AND IMAGES TO SHAME HIM FOR MISSING OUT ON THE EASIEST LITERARY “MYSTERY” OF ALL TIME. Straight up, I’m not gonna feel bad if you do this.

Honestly, it makes so much sense it hurts. Gollum once had the Ring. Why wouldn’t he go after it again? Why wouldn’t he act as a spy for the Dark Lord? WHAT IF HE HAS ANOTHER MOTIVE? But what other creature could possibly be so good at hiding, climbing, and being creepy? I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS.

Given that, these particular lines just made me laugh:

‘Yes, that is what I have feared for some time,’ said Frodo.

IT’S LIKE TOLKIEN IS SPECIFICALLY TEASING ME FOR MISSING IT. Because even his own characters in the novel knew it before I did. Oh god WHAT.

‘Ah!’ said Aragorn. ‘So you know about our little footpad, do you? He padded after us all through Moria and right down to Nimrodel. Since we took to boats, he has been lying on a log and paddling with hands and feet.’


I jest! Now I’m intrigued as to why Gollum is following the group so determinedly. We don’t get an answer to this, since he seems to disappear after being spotted. Smart move, Gollum. Instead, Tolkien almost immediately shifts tone in a neat way. Again, he combines this relaxed narrative style with the threat of the unknown; he is, at heart, describing characters paddling down a river. It’s not the most fascinating concept of all time, but he uses small things to designate the change that is about to come. The scenery changes. The cliffs rise up alongside the river. There’s a hunting eagle in the distance. Is it a possible warning?

Sort of, but not for the threat I was anticipating. The eighth night, during Sam’s watch, the Company comes upon rapids and sharp, jutting rocks in the River. They’ve come upon the Rapids! (Can I just say that as someone who arbitrarily decides when to capitalize things, I love how many words are capitalized in this book? It’s certainly not arbitrary here, but I still love it.) Unfortunately, it’s in the middle of the night, so it’s incredibly difficult to see, adding yet another complication to their task.

Actually, no, there’s another:

At that moment there was a twang of bowstrings: sever arrows whistled over them, and some fell among them. One smote Frodo between the shoulders and he lurched forward with a cry, letting go his paddle: but the arrow fell back, foiled by his hidden coat of mail.

SWEET BABY LUCIFER WHAT THE HELL. Orcs! ORCS! Sam surmises this is Gollum’s doing, and I honestly don’t doubt him. That means the threat of orcs from here on out is going to be constant. That little creature could very well have been following them this whole time just to report back to the orcs. AHHHH WHY MAKE THEM GO AWAY. Fortunately, the attack doesn’t last too long, which….that’s kind of weird, isn’t it? We’ve read about how skilled the orcs are with their bows, so why such a brief assault on them? I DO NOT LIKE THAT THIS SUGGESTS SOME ULTERIOR MOTIVE.

Can we just talk about Legolas and his whole jumping/running thing? In my head, this is one of the funniest things imaginable. Like he just “sprang ashore” and the guy prances about and he’s just good at everything and what a diva I swear. I mean, don’t get me wrong! He is endlessly entertaining to me and I want to know more about him! He’s just so hilarious as a concept.

Oh, right, we’re not done with the horrors.

Elbereth Gilthoniel!’ sighed Legolas as he looked up. Even as he did so, a dark shape, like a cloud and yet not a cloud, for it moved far more swiftly, came out of the blackness in the South, and sped towards the Company, blotting out all light as it approached. Soon it appeared as a great winged creature, black than the pits in the night. Fierce voices rose up to greet it from across the water. Frodo felt a sudden chill running through him and clutching at his heart; there was a deadly cold, like the memory of an old wound, in his shoulder.

HOLY SHIT IT’S HIM! IT’S ONE OF THE BLACK RIDERS. IT’S A RINGWRAITH ISN’T IT. THAT’S WHAT THEY LOOK LIKE. IT HAS TO BE! oh my god help me WHAT IS GOING ON?!?!??!?! oh sweet summer child the night is dark and full of terrors.

It’s also full of TIME TRAVEL. Okay, not in actuality, but after Legolas takes care of the thing that I think is a Ringwraith, Sam observes that based on where the moon is, it seems more time has passed than two weeks. Legolas casually reveals that time moves different for Elves. Apparently this also affects anyone who is in their cities? I don’t really understand the logistics of it, but this particular line stood out to me.

‘For the Elves the world moves, and it moves both very swift and very slow. Swift, because they themselves change little, and all else fleets by: it is a grief to them.’

So is this constant for them, wherever they are? Is it just the perception of it? Frodo reckons that it’s because of Galadriel that this happens, and then he just TELLS ALL OF THEM THAT SHE HAS A RING. FRODO WHAT WHAT WHAT ARE YOU DOING? DUDE, THAT IS SUCH A MISERABLE CHOICE TO MAKE. Oh god, this is not going to end well. So all I think I’ve learned is that the Elves live VERY long lives? That would explain why Elrond was so much older than I thought he could be, and why I was confused about that. But they’re not actually immortal, right?

I don’t know what the Amon Hen or the North stair are, but Aragorn decides for the whole party they are going there first just so he can….stand there? It seems to be something he must do before he decides what the Company will commit to. Um….cool? Boromir’s not too happy with this choice, but he decides to remain with his friends for the time being. He’s getting kind of restless, isn’t he? He’s anxious when Legolas and Aragorn go scouting, he’s anxious when they decide to leave their boats and head for land, and he is making me so nervous.

But nothing comes of it for days. The group successfully transfers to foot, gets to the Gates of Argonath uneventfully. It’s clear, though, how importance this place is for Aragorn. Like with Galadriel, Tolkien uses this concept of a “dual” identity to explain it:

Frodo turned and saw Strider, and yet not Strider; for the weatherworn Ranger was no longer there. In the stern sat Aragorn son of Arathorn, proud and erect, guiding the boat with skillful strokes; his hood was cast back, and his dark hair was blowing in the wind, a light was in his eyes: a king returning from exile to his own land.

Now, obviously he is not physically morphing into another person. Tolkien’s using this to talk about Frodo’s perception of this character, to demonstrate how a location or a ring or an event might cause him to perceive someone in a new light. In this case, it’s almost like a rejuvenating power for Aragorn. He is finally returning home.

But there’s one thing at the very end that is totally messing with me:

They could go no further without choice between east-way and the west. The last stage of the Quest was before them.

And there is still two-thirds of this book left. SOMETHING IS WRONG. I DON’T LIKE IT.

About Mark Oshiro

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

319 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Fellowship of the Ring’: Book Two, Chapter 9

  1. Ryan Lohner says:

    I remember that the first time I read the series, I assumed the eyes in Moria were just a random bit of scary atomosphere. Then when they showed up again, demonstrating that it was an important plot point, I figured out it was Gollum pretty quickly. And of course, I was absolutely thrilled that he would apparently have a larger role in this story after his one chapter in The Hobbit was the highlight of the whole book.

  2. Tauriel_ says:

    Just one pic from Karina Chmiel for this chapter:

    Anduin (Boromir and Pippin)
    <img src="; width="600">

  3. Noybusiness says:

    The talk about walking just gave me a thought: one kind of spell we've never seen Gandalf do is a teleportation spell. So even the wizard can't get around having to walk or ride (or fly on the back of a giant eagle) to get anywhere in Middle-Earth.

    • ljrTR says:

      there really isn't much "magic" or spells used in the whole of the story.

      • cait0716 says:

        I would argue that there's a ton of magic. But it's all very organic and nature-based – just a part of the world there to be used by those with the skill. There aren't a ton of spells because it doesn't work like the magic in Harry Potter. I would almost liken it to technology in our world. The elf-cloaks and lembas bread seem like magic to an outside observer, but to the elves it's just a part of life.

  4. Tauriel_ says:

    Tauriel's Linguistic Corner

    Belfalas – "Great Shore". Sindarin origin: beleg – "great"; falas – "coast", "shore".
    Argonath – "Pillars of the Kings". Sindarin origin: aran – "king"; gonath – "stones" (singular form is gôn. Compare with Gondor = "Stony Land").
    Amon Lhaw, Amon Hen – "Hill of Hearing", "Hill of Sight". Sindarin origin: amon – "hill" (plural is emyn); lhaw – "ears"; hen – "eye" (also hend).

  5. Tauriel_ says:

    One thing that slightly miffed me in the films: gur Netbangu jrer Vfvyqhe naq Ryraqvy gurer, abg Vfvyqhe naq Naáevba nf va gur obbxf. Cbbe Naáevba, fb sbetbggra. 🙁

    Things we learn in this chapter:

    – There is much geography (and at this point I want to urge you, Mark: use the map at the end of the book. It's not really spoilery, since it also contains a lot of information that doesn't appear in the story, so you don't know what is a spoiler and what isn't – but it will really help you to orientate yourself in the story, locations- and distances-wise).

    – Gollum has been following the Fellowship since Moria (it was he who made the "soft patter of feet" or however it was described). CREEPY.

    – Boromir clearly has issues and is visibly nervous.

    – Impressive Gondorian monuments are IMPRESSIVE. I <3 the Argonath.


    – Something huge flies overhead and causes terror. DO NOT WANT.

    – Legolas shoots it down. Clearly, bows with elven-hair strings are superior. Go Legolas! B-)

    • Saphling says:

      Elves must NEVER get split ends. *jealous*

      • Or like they have incredible tailoring skills with the cloaks and mad baking skillz with the lembas, there must be some incredible elven hairdresser that whips up a mean deep conditioning treatment

    • settlingforhistory says:

      I use the maps all the time, there are just to many names of places I've never heard of so they are vital in understanding the trips the Fellowship takes. I doubt they have spoiled me, it's hard enough to remember the places mentioned in the chapters.

      I <3 the Argonath. Nf gurl ner fbzrguvat V unir npghnyyl frra va genvyref V pna bayl nterr, gurl ner vzcerffvir.

    • cait0716 says:

      bows strung with hair remind me of the folk song "The Dreadful Wind and Rain" Specifically these (rather morbid0 stanzas:

      Out of the woods came a fidder fair
      Oh the wind and rain
      Took thirty strands of her long yellow hair
      Cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

      And he made a fiddle bow of her long yellow hair
      Oh the wind and rain
      He made a fiddle bow of her long yellow hair
      Cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

      He made fiddle pegs of her long finger bones
      Oh the wind and rain
      He made fiddle pegs of her long finger bones
      Cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

      And he made a little fiddle of her breast bone
      Oh the wind and rain
      The sound could melt a heart of stone
      Cryin' oh the dreadful wind and rain

      • Saphling says:

        Also reminds me of "Cruel Sister," especially the last verses.

        Two minstrels walked along the strand
        And saw the maiden float to land.
        They made a harp of her breastbone,
        Whose sound would melt a heart of stone.
        They took three locks of her yellow hair,
        And with them strung the harp so rare.
        They went into her father's hall
        To play the harp before them all,
        But when they laid it on a stone
        The harp began to play alone.
        The first string sang a doleful sound:
        "The bride her younger sister drowned."
        The second string as that they tried,
        In terror sits the black-haired bride.
        The third string sang beneath their bow,
        "And surely now her tears will flow."

  6. flootzavut says:


  7. MsSméagol says:

    1. The Gollum thing: OH MARK YOU FINALLY GOT THERE!!! 🙂 🙂 🙂

    2. "Killing off Dumbledore" – LOL!

    3. God I love these reviews 🙂

  8. Tauriel_ says:

    Killing off Dumbledore and adding in the entire Galadriel/Lórien plotline

    *snigger* I don't blame you for that mistake, Mark, as Dumbledore is clearly a version of Gandalf… 😀

    • tanbarkie says:


      • Tauriel_ says:

        Nah, Snape is totally a Nazgûl. Creepy, has seriously powerful magic, with billowing black cloak. Yeah, Snape is the Captain of the Nazgûl.

        • Cereus says:

          Fb qbrf Urezvbar trg gb xvyy uvz bss? 😛

        • Pearl Took says:

          LOL. The thought that Snape could out-billow the Nazgûl makes me happy. 😀 I'd also love to see him out-magic them. 😉 Magic is a very different kettle of fish in the Potterverse, of course.

          Also, nobody in Khamul's gang was ever in love with a red-haired girl. 😉

    • flootzavut says:


    • Cereus says:

      Cave Troll… in the mines… just thought you should know. *faints*

    • Saphling says:

      "To the well organized mind, death is but the next great adventure."
      Dumbledore and Gandalf would've gotten along splendidly, I think.

      Though Dumbledore might have taken up pipe-smoking as a result.

      • Dragonsong12 says:

        "Dumbledore and Gandalf would've gotten along splendidly, I think."

        I agree with that entirely, which is why it always makes me sad when I read about Ian McKellan talking down Dumbledore. Apparently, they offered him the part after Richard Harris died, but he turned it down kind of rudely. He and Harris didn't get along well, apparently.

        • notemily says:


          Although I am glad that McKellen didn't get the part of Dumbledore–it would have been weird to have them literally played by the same guy.

          • Dragonsong12 says:

            To be fair, Harris insulted McKellen's acting first, so I get that he was peeved, but implying that Dumbledore was somehow a lesser character than Gandalf isn't really part of that. The actor and the character are two different things!

            • Tauriel_ says:

              Weeeell, IMHO Dumbledore, as fine a character as he is, really IS a lesser character than Gandalf.

              • Dragonsong12 says:

                There's a fair point to be made to that, as LoTR is a much bigger and more influential creation than HP, but I personally dislike the idea of trying to measure up two characters and compare which one is "better". Even fitting within the same archtype (and even allowing that the archtype was basically invented by Tolkein) they're two different characters in two different worlds with two different setups and difficulties and powers and limitations. Gandalf was what was needed for LoTR and Dumbledore was what was needed for HP. They aren't really comparable. And to sneer at one as being inferior* is kind of missing the point of these characters to start with.

                (*not to imply that either you or McKellen was doing that, it's just a general explanation of my position.)

                • Tauriel_ says:

                  You're completely right – there can hardly be an "objective" comparison whether Gandalf is a better character than Dumbledore or vice versa – but to me, from my subjective point of view, he is. 🙂

                  • Pearl Took says:

                    I'm with Tauriel. 🙂

                    I regard Dumbledore as one of Rowling's best characters (the other is Snape). Dumbledore became ten times more interesting with the reveals in DH about his dubious past and his Machiavellian, downright Slytherin, tendencies.

                    But Gandalf has my heart. OK, he's an archetype, like all or most of Tolkien's characters, he is the 'Odin' figure in LotR, but as ever these archetypes come gloriously alive in Tolkien's skilful prose and Gandalf is also very human.

                    I remain wary of Dumbledore, after DH, but I would trust Gandalf's judgement in anything.

              • Andrew says:

                I completely disagree about this for one very specific but important reason:

                Gandalf, when given the chance to possess the ring, rejected it.
                Dumbledore did not.

                That alone, to me, makes Dumbledore the far more human and therefore interesting character. His weaknesses are laid bare, whereas Gandalf is a little too perfect for my tastes.

                Although I love Gandalf.

              • lsq says:

                Hmm, I find Dumbledore to be more nuanced and complex than Gandalf…

          • sporkaganza93 says:

            I heard it was more out of McKellen not wanting to be typecast, which is perfectly understandable.

    • Susankh says:

      I think Gandalf comes across as more “in your face”. If he’s pissed he lets you know and doesn’t try to hide it. He seems to get irritated quite a bit. Dumbledore is polite to the extreme and never seems to really let that side down.

      • notemily says:

        Well, in the books. In the movies he has the whole HARRY DID YOU PUT YER NAME IN THE GOBLA DA FIYAH moment

        • Tauriel_ says:


        • sporkaganza93 says:

          Eh, that was really only in the fourth movie that he was really like that, I think it was a poor directing decision. After that he never really did quite go back to the book Dumbledore, though.

          • Tauriel_ says:

            I think Gambon was an excellent Dumbledore in POA – perfectly balanced between wise and quirky. The mess that his character was in subsequent films I fully blame on the writers (*shakes fist* KLOVES!!! ) and the directors. They clearly didn't GET Dumbledore and what he should be.

            • sporkaganza93 says:

              I have a feeling that Kloves is responsible for nearly all of the biggest flaws in the movie series, honestly. I'd curse him, but he did also manage to take the longest Potter book and turn it into the shortest Potter movie while also making it one of the best Potter movies, so I can hardly blame him for everything.

              I can, however, blame him for the way Ron got the shaft in the movies. Absolutely disgraceful!

              • Gillyweed says:

                But Kloves didn't write OotP, so it's fine to blame him for everything. It's what I do anyway, Hermione jumping on a dragon, pleeease.

                • sporkaganza93 says:

                  He didn't? OK, I'll go right back to blaming him for everything.

                  He still wrote some pretty good movie one-liners on occasion, though.

      • SisterCoyote says:

        "I shall miss his quick temper…" Yeah, I love that about Gandalf.

  9. flootzavut says:

    "Va n jnl, vg’f n arng hfr naq pbzzragnel ba gur angher bs fhfcrafr nf n aneengvir qrivpr."

    V qb abg yvr, jura V ernq guvf, naq gura gubhtug nobhg svefg Fnz naq Sebqb, naq gura Zreel naq Cvccva, qvfnccrnevat sbe PUNCGREF BA RAQ, V ynhturq va n cnegvphyneyl rivy znaare…

  10. Saphling says:

    Killing off Dumbledore and adding in the entire Galadriel/Lórien plotline…

    Curse that Snape-Balrog!

    Ahem… >_>

    I liked this chapter. It's a traveling, figuring-things-out chapter, clearing the way for them to presumably make the decision where to go in the next.chapter. All the Fellowship are lost in their own thoughts, with their own troubles, weighing their choices, why they came on this journey and what keeps them going. Legolas is off in his own thoughts of better places, Gimli is still preoccupied with his gift from Galadriel, Boromir is getting weird and rather passive-aggressive about wanting to go back to Minas Tirith, "alone if my help has not earned me the reward of companionship."

    We're told about Gollum following them, posing both a direct danger to the Fellowship as well as potentially giving away their position and purpose. Aragorn sees the figures of his forebearers, gaining hope and determination, but still not knowing which way to turn. The lack of Gandalf/Dumbledore/Obi Wan is putting a lot of strain on him.

  11. Tauriel_ says:

    Bbbu, pyrire Znex, ur svtherq vg bhg nobhg gur sylvat Anmtűy! 🙂

  12. threerings13 says:

    This chapter is such a tease. It's all suspense-building with very little pay-off.

  13. Stephen_M says:

    Yeah, sorry Mark, there may have been some gentle sniggering as this chapter approached re: Golumn.

    I've always loved how this chapter is paced, it's both a chance to catch your breath and the start of the next peril (in this case, the Orcs and the airborne… thing). Somehow it works really well at ratcheting up the tension where it's probably the most travel-based section to date and very little happens. Plus the description of the Argonath has always struck me as a superb bit of work, it feels a part of the world yet you can't help but wonder how it was made…

    Oh yes, bonus points to Legolas for managing to take out the airborne creature, at night, when it's a dark patch against a dark sky, with ONE SHOT! Yeash, way to show off there elf boy.

    • flootzavut says:

      "Cyhf gur qrfpevcgvba bs gur Netbangu unf nyjnlf fgehpx zr nf n fhcreo ovg bs jbex, vg srryf n cneg bs gur jbeyq lrg lbh pna'g uryc ohg jbaqre ubj vg jnf znqr…"

      V ernyyl rawblrq gurz gnyxvat nobhg gubfr va gur rkgenf, ubj gurl qrpvqrq gurl jbhyq unir orra znqr va beqre gung gurl pbhyq znxr gurz ybbx cynhfvoyr. Snagnfgvp :Q

      • notemily says:

        V YBIR gur Netbangu va gur zbivrf. Gur jnl gur Sryybjfuvc ybbxf fznyy rira pbzcnerq gb bar bs gur SRRG… vg'f nznmvat.

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          LRF! V YBIR gur qrfvta sbe gur Netbangu! Gur fpnyr bs vg nyy qevirf ubzr ubj fznyy naq ihyarenoyr gurl ner, jura nyy gur jbeyq (naq vgf uvfgbel) ner ng evfx bs orvat qrfgeblrq be ybfg sberire. Or at least, that's how I see it.

    • cait0716 says:

      Oh yes, bonus points to Legolas for managing to take out the airborne creature, at night, when it's a dark patch against a dark sky, with ONE SHOT!

      Legolas and Bard must be related somehow

    • stefb4 says:

      Well, Gandalf DID say in The Hobbit that the Mirkwood Elves could shoot a bird's eye in the dark 🙂

  14. Atrus says:

    all I think I’ve learned is that the Elves live VERY long lives?
    Naq gur haqrefgnzrag bs gur lrne njneq tbrf gb…

    But they’re not actually immortal, right?
    Nu, gur qrsvavgvba bs vzzbegnyvgl va Zvqqyr-rnegu, shry rabhtu sbe n pbhcyr qbmra synzr jnef be zber. Ohg ab, va gur pynffvp frafr bs gur jbeq gurl'er abg; va Gbyxvra'f bja qrsvavgvba vg'f zber yvxr n "frevny ybatrivgl". Gurl yvir irel ybat, gurve obql pna qvr, ohg gurl pna ervapneangr. Gur qbjafvqr gb guvf vf gung gurl'er qbbzrq gb tebj jrnel naq yvir nf ybat nf gur jbeyq, juvyr uhzna fbhyf pna yrnir naq tb… fbzrjurer ryfr.

    • @flourish says:

      Jnvg – gurl qba'g ernyyl ervapneangr. Be, gurl qb, ohg va gur unyyf bs Znaqbf, naq gurl pna arire yrnir gurer, be qba'g, naljnl.

      Gur barf jub ervapneangr (be guvax gurl ervapneangr) ner gur qjneirf – urapr nyy gur Qúevaf.

      • @redbeardjim says:

        Pbhagrerknzcyr: Tybesvaqry

      • Atrus says:

        Gur choyvfurq Fvyznevyyvba irefvba bs vg vf gung gur fbhyf tb gb Znaqbf, gurl'er ervapneangrq nsgre n juvyr vs qrrzrq jbegul naq/be gurl jnag vg, naq gura gurl hfhnyyl fgnl va Nzna orpnhfr gurer ner ab zber fuvcf tbvat gb Zvqqyr Rnegu nsgre gur jubyr fhaqrevat naq Fgenvtug Jnl guvat. Tybesvaqry vf n abgnoyr rkprcgvba naq cebonoyl pnzr onpx ba gur fnzr fuvc jvgu Tnaqnys naq gur Vfgnev.

        Rneyvre nonaqbarq irefvba npghnyyl unq gur ryirf ervapneangr va gurve puvyqera, juvpu jnf whfg n yvggyr ovg perrcl. Rfcrpvnyyl nsgre ernqvat n pregnva Naa Evpr obbx.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Fbeel, ohg V qba'g erpnyy ernqvat nobhg nal cebbs gung Qjneirf ervapneangr.

        Yvxr Ngehf fnvq, Ryirf jub qvr tb gb gur Unyyf bs Znaqbf, naq nsgre fbzr gvzr gurl znl ervapneangr naq yvir va Nzna, be, va ener pnfrf (yvxr Tybesvaqry) pna rira erghea gb Zvqqyr-rnegu.

        Guvf vf orpnhfr gur Ryirf' sëne (fbhyf) ner rgreanyyl obhaq gb gur jbeyq (bs juvpu Nzna vf cneg) – jurernf gur sëne bs Zra qrcneg gur jbeyq nsgre gurl qvr. Jurer gurl tb vf n frperg xabja bayl gb Vyúingne.

    • ljrTR says:

      V gubhtug vg unq orra zragvbarq ol abj va gur obbxf gung ryirf jrer vzzbegny. thrff abg

      • Skyweir says:

        Nppghnyl, gurl pna yrnir Znaqbf, naq zbfg qb. Gurl whfg qba'g erghea gb Zvqqyr Rnegu, pubbfvat gb fgnl va Inyvabe. Svaebq yrnirf Znaqbf irel dhvpxyl, sbe vafgnapr. Naq Tybesvaqry npghnyyl ergheaf gb ZR nsgre uvf gvzr va Znaqbf.

        Nf sbe vzzbegnyvgl, vg qrcraqf ba lbhe qragvgvba. Gurl qb abg qvr sebz byq ntr, ohg gurl ner abg vaihyarenoyr. Ubjrire, gurve fcvevg vf obhaq gb Neqn naq qb abg qvfnccrne, naq vf erobqvrq, fb V jbhyq pnyy qrsvavgviryl pnyy gung vzzbegnyvgl nf bccbfrq gb zbengyvgl nf qrsvarq sbe Zra. Fvapr gung vf gur bayl ersrerapr, V guvax vg jbhyq or snve gb pnyy ryirf vzzbegny (v.r. abg zbegny).

        Vagrerfgvat cbvag: Bepf ner znqr sebz ryirf, naq gurl fubhyq gurersber nyfb or vzzbegny va gur fnzr jnl. Vaqrrq, V oryvrir Funteng zragvbaf orvat nyvir va Oynpx Lrnef (2.ntr) va Gur Gjb Gbjref, naq gurer ner n srj bgure ersreraprf fpnggrerq nebhaq gung frrzf gb ubyq hc gung Bepf qb abg ntr.

        • blossomingpeach says:

          Vagrerfgvat–V'q arire gubhtug nobhg gur Bepf yvxr gung!

        • stefb4 says:

          Perfect explanation 🙂

        • rabidsamfan says:

          Wow. I never thought of it that way. Pardon me while I find the bits of my broken brain…

        • Gurl qb abg qvr sebz byq ntr, ohg gurl ner abg vaihyarenoyr.

          Pryroevna 🙁

        • Atrus says:

          Vg'f abg pregnva gung gurl'er pbeehcgrq Ryirf. Gbyxvra pnzr hc jvgu frireny irefvbaf bs gur bevtva bs Bepf qhevat gur lrnef, vapyhqvat: univat gurz znqr sebz ryirf, zra, be navznyf; orvat chccrgf navzngrq ol gur cbjre bs Zbetbgu; orvat qrfpraqnagf bs Znvne gung gbbx Bep-sbez qhevat gur Svefg Ntr; nyy naq/be abar bs gur nobir sbyybjrq ol ercrngrq urnqqrfx naq sehfgengvba.

          • majere616 says:

            Gbyxvra nyjnlf unq n terng qrny bs gebhoyr gelvat gb erpbapvyr gur Nyjnlf Punbgvp Rivy angher bs bepf jvgu uvf bja Pngubyvp snvgu naq vgf sbphf ba erqrzcgvba naq fnyingvba. Va gur raq ur arire qvq znantr gb qrivfr na bevtva gung fngvfsvrq uvz.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Good points, and well explained. 🙂

  15. Sarah TX says:

    My favorite part of the Gollum reveal is how Aragorn has known about it all this time, and Frodo has noticed it and remarked on it, and Aragorn is just "Ho hum, best not to speak of it yet."

    It's kind of insulting to Gollum, actually, like he's so harmless that the fact that he's stalking them isn't of general concern.

    • Katie says:

      Or maybe Aragorn was going: "Hee, Frodo is so unprepared! It's so difficult not to spil this for him! I'm going to run "Gollum" through my handy portable rot13 converter and snicker to Sam about how unprepared Frodo is!"

    • stefb4 says:

      For some reason I want to think Legolas and Gimli and even Boromir know about Gollum too. Possibly Merry (it seems to me he is a very intelligent hobbit). Legolas would recognize him because Gollum's imprisonment in Mirkwood, and of course Aragron knows who Gollum is.

  16. bookworm67 says:

    Mark, I'm sorry, but it is so ADORABLE how frustrated you get when you miss something.

    (I'm exactly the same way, though, so don't feel bad!)

  17. flootzavut says:

    Oh Mark, the sheer volume of comments along the lines of "HE DOESN'T KNOW IT'S GOLLUM??? HE DOESN'T KNOW??? IS HE TROLLING US?" the last few days has been fantastic. We've all being itching for you to get here 😀

  18. Sarah TX says:

    Oh, and maybe this has been remarked on in spoilers before, but:

    V pna'g jnvg sbe Znex gb svaq bhg jub unf gur bgure gjb ryira evatf! Ur vf fbbbb abg cercnerq. Be znlor ur'yy arire svaq bhg naq v jvyy or qvfnccbvagrq nyy zl yvsr.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      V guvax vg'f nyernql orra zragvbarq gung Ryebaq unf bar; V qba'g unir gur obbx ng gur zbzrag gb purpx, gubhtu.

    • flootzavut says:

      Qbrfa'g vg trg fcryyrq bhg evtug ng gur Terl Uniraf ng gur raq??

      • Sarah TX says:

        Bu lrnu, lbh'er cebonoyl evtug. V'ir ernq gur Fvzneevyvba zhpu zber erpragyl guna V'ir ernq EbGX, fb V gubhtug vg jnf bayl qvfphffrq gurer.

        • flootzavut says:

          IIRC, gurl'er nyy bcrayl jbea – znlor orpnhfr gurl ner yrnivat Neqn? V nz abg 100% fher.

          V er-ernq gur raq qhevat gur "Jnvgvat Sbe Nynfxn" uvnghf orpnhfr, pyrneyl, V qba'g unir rabhtu ernfbaf gb pel yvxr n onol… be fbzrguvat…?!

    • eregyrn says:

      Ur erznexrq ba Ryebaq univat bar jura ur gnyxrq va uvf erivrj nobhg gur erirny bs Tnynqevry'f… ohg ur qvqa'g rkcnaq ba vg irel zhpu, fb V qvq fbeg bs jbaqre vs vg uvg uvz nf fgebatyl. Naq ng gur gvzr, V qba'g guvax Ryebaq'f vf anzrq? (V sbetrg gur npghny grkg ng gung cbvag, V'q unir gb ybbx vg hc.)

      Jung V jbaqre vf, vs ur QVQ cvpx hc ba Ryebaq univat bar, vf jurgure ur jvyy trg gb gur cbvag bs, OHG JUB UNF GUR GUVEQ?

      Ubjrire, ng gur fnzr gvzr, V qba'g frr jurer va gur grkg gb pbzr ur'q ernyyl trg gb gung cbvag, orpnhfr cnfg gur Tnynqevry ovg, V qba'g erpnyy gurer orvat zhpu bccbeghavgl gb qjryy ba gur Ryira Evatf. Vs, hcba svaqvat bhg gung Tnynqevry unf bar naq Ryebaq unf nabgure, ur jnfa'g vzzrqvngryl bofrffvat ba jurer gur guveq pbhyq or, V ernyyl jbaqre vs vg jvyy bpphcl uvf zvaq sebz urer ba bhg.

      Ohg vg'yy or n avpr yvggyr zbzrag jura ur trgf gb gur IREL RAQ bs EBGX naq vf tvira gur erirny.

  19. Tauriel_ says:

    So all I think I’ve learned is that the Elves live VERY long lives? That would explain why Elrond was so much older than I thought he could be, and why I was confused about that. But they’re not actually immortal, right?

    Without going too much into detail (that would be spoilers for the Silmarillion), it's safe to say that the Elves can be killed or die of grief – otherwise, if they're happy and don't go fighting in wars, they can live pretty much forever. Thousands of years. But after all those years, they can get weary of the world.

    • ljrTR says:

      good answer. wasn't sure whether to post something similar or whether it was spoilery

    • Darth_Ember says:

      After a while, those long years must get as boring as endless television reruns; occasionally you get a great episode you don't mind re-experiencing a gazillion times, but the rest of the time it sort of blends together into plain sameness.
      At least they get time to finish all their little hobbies, though. You could do all kinds of things with thousands of years at your disposal.
      Though now I'm picturing elder Elves searching out new crafts they've not mastered yet. You've learned every musical instrument you know of, your glassworking and sculpting is sublime, and you once threw away eighty years mastering several poetry styles until your poems were perfect. You've tried painting, you've tried baking – Elrond really likes those puff pastries you invented four centuries back – and you're a great gardener. You've learned herblore, architecture, and the intricacies and history of every language spoken in Arda. Every other century or so you settle down and read every book ever written thus far in time. You studied fighting so long you know five different ways to kill an orc with a quill-pen alone. You know astronomy, cartography, and basket-weaving. You can weave, dye and stitch a new outfit from scratch.
      And now you're running out of hobbies. You could use your generally great senses and resilience to try extreme sports, perhaps. Or you could invent sudoku.
      You've saved one thing for last; scrapbooking, maybe, or macrame. And if you ever get bored enough to master those, you'll have run out of things to do. Weary of the world? I'd say so.:p

      • atheistsisters says:

        Haha, love this!

      • Zoli says:

        This IS one of the problems I have with the concept of immortal (or super long-lived) elves in fantasy. Tolkien makes it work (although I still feel like millennia in Lorien would get boring, no matter how awesome Lorien is) but no one else seems to justify the secretive but ancient elves very well. I was never very interested in writing elves, but now I feel like if I did include them, they'd be more likely to feature as constant travelers, going all over the world in search of new things to see and learn, because yeah… even a few hundred years could get boring really fast if you only ever did the same things.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Well said. That's why Tolkien is the golden standard of fantasy – he really DID properly think through the concept and all the consequences of endless life.

      • Milla says:


      • Rheinman says:

        "You know, the one thing I haven't tried yet is whitesmithing. I have this great Idea for sets of rings. Once I'm done I can give them to all of my friends!

        If the road to hell is paved with good intentions, credit Darth Ember with suggesting that boredom may be another starting point

      • notemily says:

        Well, this is why the elves are so GOOD at making things like cloaks and swords and such, right? Because they've had THOUSANDS OF YEARS to work on their technique. It makes sense to me.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          And that's why their products (cloaks, ropes, weapons…) are considered "magic" by lesser folk. Any sufficiently advanced technology is indistinguishable from magic, after all. 😉

      • Dwarven fanfic writing.

    • Ooh, is Mark going to read the Silmarillion?

  20. alfgifu says:

    I first read LotR in about thirty-six hours when I was twelve (punctuated by a few irritating interruptions for school, sleep, food etc) and I honestly can't remember what I had and hadn't guessed at which point. But I don't think you should feel quite so foolish for missing Gollum, Mark! Tolkien deliberately plays it quietly creepy and mysterious and then suddenly it turns out everyone knew all the time. He's just trolling us.

    Did Frodo tell everyone in the Company about Galadriel's ring? I sort of assumed that only Aragorn and Sam were near enough to hear, as they're in the same boat. And Sam already knows.

    The whole bit with boats doesn't happen in the musical, but here is a travelling song from much earlier in the story – The Road Goes Ever On – with photos rather than video, unfortunately, but with lyrics:

    [youtube 6v1QV-25MS8 youtube]

    One thing you don't pick up from this is that on stage there was a chorus of Rangers in grey-green cloaks chanting some of the background stuff. I want a chorus of Rangers. I'd walk up mountains, and everything, if only they'd follow along and chant about the scenery. *pout*

  21. When you didn't know who was following them, my comment was, "Oh, Mark, you're so…precious." And then we pointed and laughed but mostly adored you. And wondered whether you had never seen Gollum in any of the trailers or something.

    • ljrTR says:

      Mark shouldn't even watch the trailers for the movies, they are so spoilery!

    • eregyrn says:

      I thought he hadn't even watched trailers? Because if he had, he'd be spoiled for many more characters' casting than he seems to be?

      • I just find it very impressive given the media saturation of the LOTR movies, ads all over TV, billboards, Oscar coverage, Naql Frexvf'f pnerre…that Mark never managed to pick up on the fact that Gollum figured into this series at all. But he also somehow managed not to know that Angel was a vampire. Which is what makes it all so much more fun.

        • tardis_stowaway says:

          Mark's ability to remain unspoiled for things that are pretty basic cultural knowledge* is practically a superpower.

          *at least among those interested in the geeky sorts of TV and books usually featured here

      • xpanasonicyouthx says:

        Yeah, I haven't seen any of them.

        • stefb4 says:

          How. hoooooow

          (not that this doesn't thrill me–you being unprepared and all)

        • BetB says:

          Congratulations sir! I wish I could read them all for the first time without any prior knowledge. I know you said you were a pretentious wanker because you avoided the books, but think of how cool it is for us to see you discover all these things for the first time! I'm reading this vicariously through you. You are not a pretentious wanker. Thank goodness you have the guts to try other books after Twilight!

    • Juliana Moreli says:

      I remember I laugh when I read you comment some 3 chapters ago srrsrs

      But now it is spoiler free…one less spoiler to put on Rot13!

  22. ljrTR says:

    I was afraid your site had gone dark today in protest – so glad to read this today Mark. You have found so many interesting things in what is honestly a chapter not too interesting to me.
    I love your unpreparedness! It really makes a book so much better, when it's all new to you, doesn't it? I'm so glad you are surprised at things, and won't tease you about not guessing it was Gollum ("Thief! Baggins! We Hates It Forever" – don't you just love Gollum?)
    The element of surprise is one reason why I hope you wait to see the films until after you read all three books. (I waited longer than 30 years ….).
    Thanks for the fun review today.

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:

      I would have liked to comply with the protest, as I support it, but I literally can't afford to. I would lose money from advertising that is now going to support myself. BUT I APPROVE OF THE PROTEST!

  23. alfgifu says:

    Argh! I broke the italics, and I can't edit it! Sorry, everyone. 🙁

  24. knut_knut says:

    Even when the paddles were in use they did not trust Sam with one.
    Lol, Sam. You and I are boating failure buddies

    For the Elves the world moves, and it moves both very swift and very slow. Swift, because they themselves change little, and all else fleets by: it is a grief to them. Slow, because they do not count the running years, not for themselves. The passing seasons are but ripples ever repeated in the long long stream. Yet beneath the Sun
    all things must wear to an end at last.

    I love this passage. It’s so beautiful yet so sad. It makes me think of the Doctor too 🙁

    The last stage of the Quest was before them
    Like Mark said in yesterday’s review, when they left Lothlorien it felt like their journey started anew, but here they are at the end. Whenever I read FoTR I always think they’ve made more progress than they really have, until I get to this point. I’m looking for their location on the map and then I realize I’m looking too far north. They’re RIGHT AT MORDOR!

    Killing off Dumbledore
    Dumbledore? 😛

  25. Zoli says:


    Honestly? As I'm re-reading this book I am astonished at how little Tolkien actually hides anything. Mostly, he just tells you straight up what's going on. Half the time you have no idea wtf he's talking about because it involves some complicated history from hundreds or thousands of years ago, but he doesn't hide much of anything. At the same time, you're still often completely surprised just because there's so much history to this world and the possibilities are pretty limitless. He absolutely manages to make you feel like this is just one story in a world with thousands of years of history.

    I feel like this is why other fantasy authors sort of fall into a trap when trying to imitate Tolkien; they do things like copy the surface of his story, including little songs and poems and an epic journey… but without the miles of backstory underneath it just doesn't work the way it worked for Tolkien.

  26. Ryan Lohner says:

    I've been following along with the BBC radio production, which actually makes it completely bleeding obvious in Lorien, when we actually hear dialogue from Gollum. Paraphrasing: "We smells it, the precious. And- a Baggins! We hates them! They stole the precious!"

    • eregyrn says:

      Gur zbivr gbgnyyl fcbvyf vg nf jryy — vg unf Sebqb abgvpvat Tbyyhz sbyybjvat va Zbevn, naq Tnaqnys pbasvezvat vg, V oryvrir.

  27. Jenny_M says:

    LOL, Mark, honest to God I made this yesterday before I even saw your review:

    <img src=""&gt;

    • platoapproved says:

      I thought I was going to be the only one making this joke, I'M SO GLAD YOU ALL GOT THERE FIRST. <3

  28. floppus says:

    Yesterday, the question was raised (again) about maps of Middle-earth, and whether looking at the map could be considered a spoiler. It's true that most, if not all, editions of LotR have included one or more maps at the very start of the book (so it's clearly intended to be used as a reference while you're reading.) But it occurred to me that perhaps Mark or other first-time readers might like to have a version of the map that's completely spoiler-free, i.e., doesn't contain any information beyond what has appeared in the story so far.

    Here is a map showing the places Frodo and company have travelled so far (up to the end of chapter 9.) It's based on a portion of Christopher Tolkien's map, and I've removed the labels from places we haven't seen yet:
    The route the Fellowship follows in this chapter is highlighted in blue.

    And here, for the extra-paranoid, is a version in which everything we haven't seen so far is blurred out:

    If there is any interest, I'll try to make similar maps for each chapter going forward.

    • Cassie5squared says:

      I have to say, I love the maps of Middle-earth. I want to know how many days it took them to go so far, and where exactly they are when they stop on such a day. I ended up getting hold of "Journeys of Frodo", the maps drawn by Barbara Strachey, just to have a clearer idea of what was going on.

      • eregyrn says:

        I am completely and utterly map-addicted as well. I don't even think of them as spoilers. I become really impatient with books, fiction or nonfiction, that depend on contextualization in the world and yet don't include maps.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      Those are really neat. Thank you.

      But man, if Mark considers maps spoilery he *definitely* should wait till he finishes the book before watching the movies. (Also because the movies tend to show us places that are mentioned long before Tolkien actually describes them. I'm thinking particularly of gur genafsbezngvba bs Vfratneq, which doesn't get described until something like chapter 8 of TTT.)

    • notemily says:

      This is awesome, thanks for making these!

    • knut_knut says:

      Thank you SO MUCH for making these! The maps in my book are really small and hard to read (plus I can’t read maps for shit anyways) so I always have a hard time figuring out where they are or where they’ve been.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Yay! You made the maps! Yeah I think something like this would be perfect for Mark to check out and make sure there's no possibility of seeing anything he hasn't already come across. 🙂

    • rissreader says:

      Thanks for posting these maps. I appreciate you putting in the blue line too. I don't have the books with me right now, so this info is helpful to me.

  29. Shannon says:

    That would explain why Elrond was so much older than I thought he could be, and why I was confused about that. But they’re not actually immortal, right?

    Is that a question you actually want answered? If so, Lrf naq ab. Gurl ntr rkgerzryl fybjyl, ohg gurl qba'g qvr sebz trggvat byq, fb va gurbel gurl pbhyq/qb yvir sberire. Gurl pnaabg or xvyyrq ol nal xvaq bs qvfrnfr, ohg gurl PNA or znqr gb qvr, sebz guvatf yvxr cbvfba, ivbyrapr, tevrs, be fvzcyl abg jnagvat gb or nyvir nalzber. Ohg rira vs gurl qb qvr, vg'f abg sberire hayrff gurl pbafpvbhfyl znxr gur pubvpr arire gb erghea gb yvsr.

    I tried to make that explanation as unspoilery as possible, so it should be okay for anyone who does want to read it. But it's rot13ed anyway in case anyone does think it's a spoiler.

  30. eregyrn says:

    Aww, bless, Mark. I think most of the rot13 regarding the Gollum thing was far kinder than you imagine; just, rather gleeful. (OMG WAIT UNTIL HE REALIZES!)

    • flootzavut says:

      Yes – much gleefulness, and excitement and a kind of nailbiting is he gonna guess or not and he is going to flip when he finds out. Your unpreparedness is a thing of huge joy, Mark 😀

  31. rubyjoo says:

    MARK, you're nearly there! When you get to the end of The Fellowship, are you going to make predictions? I love goading people into making predictions. A big group of family and friends went to see the LotR films every Xmas and one young man in the group knew nothing about Tolkien or the story-line. After each film, we urged him to guess what was going to happen next, either in the plot or to various characters "Go on! Go on! What do you think?!" Oh, what fun we had! Please give us the exquisite pleasure of having you guess, Mark, LOL!

    • Geolojazz says:

      I had a friend write her own comic book ending to LotR after reading Fellowship. It actually was surprising that she got a few things right! 😀

    • ljrTR says:

      How did your friend do with the guessing?

      • rubyjoo says:

        The young man in our group got some of it right. But, because – at least after the first film – he still seemed to equate fantasy with fairy-tale, he was a bit over-confident with some of his predictions. He just assumed it would all follow the fairy-tale route.

  32. Becky says:

    It took me a while to reIt took me a while to recognize Gollum as the creature following them, so I can't make fun of you for that too much.
    "Killing off Dumbledore"
    Oh, this explains why you didn't figure out the Gollum thing, you've been reading a different series the whole time. 😀
    (But really, Gandalf and Dumbledore together would be the best bromance of all time)

    Elves are not immortal, but they can live thousands of years without dying of old age, and they're pretty hard to kill. cognize Gollum as the creature following them, so I can't make fun of you for that too much.

  33. monkeybutter says:

    Well, I wasn't going to laugh at you, but if you insist!

    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    <img src=""&gt;
    Oh well, at least you still have a keen shipping eye. I like that Gollum first appears in "Riddles in the Dark," and then reappears in "Journey in the Dark." It IS like Tolkien is messing with you. The image of Gollum ~stealthily~ paddling behind them on a log is also pretty hilarious to me. I can imagine Aragorn rolling his eyes at the totally, completely not-obvious log that's always a few dozen yards behind them.

    I love how Aragorn lights up when they pass through the Argonath almost as much as I love how Tolkien manages to get four of his names on a single page.

  34. settlingforhistory says:

    I had guessed that the thing following them was Golloum when Haldir described it as similar to a hobbit.
    What really surprised me was that Aragorn knew they where being followed the whole time.
    Like the hobbits did with the Ring and Frodo, people in LotR seem to love keeping things secret or better yet: they only talk about something when even the last one in their company has figured it out on his own.
    These people are the Middle-earth Spoiler-police!

    • Rheinman says:

      To me it makes sense that Aragorn knew it was Golumn. He's a ranger, crafty in hunting and tracking, noticing signs and familiar with the wilderness. Also, as a hunter, the one thing you don't want to do is spook the game by standing up in the boat and going "Ooh! ooh! Everybody look at that log! Golumn is following us!"

      I figured Aragorn was playing dumb and waiting for Golumn to get too close or make a mistake

  35. Cereus says:

    Yeah I was so excited… "OMG when is he going to figure out it's Gollum!" It gave me a couple of weeks of fun suspense (and probably a few other people) so don't feel bad.

  36. cait0716 says:

    The way Lothlorien is a bit outside the normal flow of time makes me think of Avalon.


    I now have an interesting image of an adorable baby Satan in my mind. It's probably been augmented by other books you should eventually read, Mark.

    I forgot how long the fellowship is on the river for. It must be a nice change from spending all day hiking. Unless you're Sam

  37. nextboy says:

    yep you missed gollum, but can i just giggle at you for calling gandalf dumbledore instead?

  38. hpfish13 says:

    This chapter is so tense, especially after the last one.

    I have two pieces of art today

    This one from my book
    <img src=""&gt;

    And this one from the Ted Nasmith calendar.
    <img src=""&gt;

    With this accompanying quote:

    "Behold the Argonath, the Pillars of the Kings!" cried Aragorn. "We shall pass them soon. Keep the boats in line, and as far apart as you can! Hold the middle of the stream!"
    As Frodo was borne towards them the great pillars rose like towers to meet him. Giants they seemed to him, vast grey figures silent but threatening. Then he saw that they were indeed shaped and fashioned; the craft and power of old had wrought upon them, and still they preserved through the suns and rains of forgotten years the mighty likenesses in which they had been hewn.

  39. SweetVerda says:

    Then Pippin, who sat in the bow looking back, cought a queer gleam in [Borimir’s] eye, as he peered forward gazing at Frodo.

    I know the word didn’t mean the same, but Borimir/Frodo is now in my own personal head-canon. Nothing anyone can say will stop me.

    A log with eyes? Do Not Want. No, thank you. I think I’ll pass.

    My first instinct was that the log was an alligator or a crocodile, because that’s how they are often described. Finding out that it is Gollem is much, much worse, in my opinion. Which is saying something, because Gollem doesn’t eat people, at least. Or does he?

  40. Darth_Ember says:

    Black swans? Well, why not!
    <img src=""&gt;
    Silly non-Aussies with your white-only swans… :p

    Also, Legolas seems to be distinguishing himself here; we had the snow-running and the fight against the wolves, but this chapter steps it up to a new and badass level with his shooting down that thing in the air.

    • Saphling says:

      Are they usually only in Australia? I got bitten on the hand by a black swan in Florida when I was 13 (admittedly, I was being silly at the time and should've been more careful).

      • Darth_Ember says:

        They come from here, all sources I know of say. If there are black swans in Florida, I'm guessing they were introduced. I could be wrong of course, but everything I've found points to 'native to Australia' and just introduced elsewhere.

        They've in some ways become part of Australia's identity; the contrast to the white swans elsewhere makes them very distinct for that. It's the bird emblem of Western Australia, for one thing.

        • Saphling says:

          Very cool. I had no idea. We occasionally have trumpeter swans here in Arkansas, but they aren't native (of course, armadillos, fire ants, and kudzu aren't native, either, but they're still common).

    • Katie says:

      Why are the baby swans not black??? Are they adopted? Is there a trope subversion of "Ugly Duckling" going on here? (these are the important things I need to know)

      • Zoli says:

        The baby swans are only covered in down; when the actual feathers grow in then they'll be black.

        (Most baby birds tend to be the same fuzzy off-white before their feathers appear.)

        • Zoli says:

          (Also, apologies if you already knew that. I could not quite tell how sarcastic you were being with your comment. ;))

    • Shannon says:

      I think there are black swans native to other places. For example, my family/ancestry is Irish, and our 'clan totem' or whatever you want to call it is the black swan.

  41. LOTR-Esq. says:

    I am absolutely loving the following along with a Tolkien newb. Mark, are you going to release your plans for the transition from FOTR to TT? A reminder that you simply cannot watch the FOTR movie until after reading Chapter 1 of TT as the movie and the books do not having matching breakpoints. So Book II, Chapter 10 tomorrow, Book III Chapter 1 on Friday, FOTR movie this weekend? I need to know so I can follow along…..

    And yes, it was quite adorable watching you stress over the follower (knowing it was Gollum).

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      There have been quite a few people (myself included) advocating that he shouldn't watch the movies until finishing the whole trilogy. Even beyond the different stopping points, there's many deviations that would probably just be a distraction and keep him from the full experience of either one unless he already knows the whole story.

      • ljrTR says:

        I'm with you. I hope Mark enjoys the entire original book-story before enjoying the movie story. they are so different in spots.

      • SweetVerda says:

        Mark is often mentioning how he has trouble visualizing things, and so I think that Mark should at least see the first movie. (ROT13 for possible movie expectation spoilers.) Gurer ner n srj guvatf gung ner va gur zbivr gung nera'g va gur obbxf, gurer ner n srj guvatf va gur obbxf gung nera'g va gur zbivrf, naq gurer ner n srj guvatf rzcunfvmrq va gur zbivrf gung nera'g ernyyl nccnerag va gur obbxf. Gur vzcbegnag guvat vf, V qba'g guvax Znex jvyy or noyr gb gryy juvpu vf juvpu. Nf ybat nf Znex xrrcf va zvaq gung gurl ner gjb qvssrerag fgbevrf va gjb pbzcyrgryl qvssrerag zrqvhzf, whfg jvgu gur fnzr cybg naq punenpgref, V guvax ur'yy or svar.

        It's kind of like how people want Mark to look at the maps. They say that it shouldn't spoil Mark because they show things that never really get mentioned, and so there is no way for Mark to know where the Fellowship will end up.

        • rabidsamfan says:

          The problem is that even the first half of the first movie is kind of spoilery for a lot of the book, naq abg whfg sbe gur svefg puncgre bs Gjb Gbjref. It's a visual medium, so things that are mentioned are shown, long before the text ever describes them. I haven't got the greatest visual imagination in the world either, and I know how much illustrations and movies tend to overwhelm the outlines I did manage to construct. It's frustrating, just frustrating in a different way.

          Naq V'q xvaq bs yvxr gb frr uvz pbzr gb gur zbivrf gur jnl n ybg bs hf qvq nyernql xabjvat gur obbx, guvaxvat jr xarj jung gb rkcrpg naq fgvyy orvat hacercnerq…

          • Skyweir says:

            I agree, there are a lot of spoilers in the first book for later books, because of the way Jackson breaks the story for a visual medium. And seeing how spoiler-adverse Mark usually is, I would suggest he read the books all the way through before he watch the movies.

            This is also the best way to experience them, in my opinion.

  42. stingingpetals says:

    Oh Mark, oh you sweet, sweet, summer child. By the beard of Durin, I wish I could see your face as you read this!

  43. Erin says:

    When you get a chance I would actually LOVE to hear your thoughts on comparisons of this book to Norse mythology. It's something I wish I knew more about – and it makes sense that Tolkien might have made his pretend-ancient-myth look like actual ancient myths.

    • ljrTR says:

      Tolkien was influenced by many mythologies, including Norse, and believe me,MUCH has been written about it. I hope someone here has references on hand to help you as I can't right now.

      • rubyjoo says:

        I studied both Anglo-Saxon and Old Norse and it’s always seemed to me that LotR has a more Anglo-Saxon than Norse feel to it, for instance, gur jubyr phygher bs gur Evqref bs Ebuna, gurve anzrf, gurve cbrgel jvgu vgf nyyvgrengvba naq gur srryvat bs nyy guvatf cnffvat (nyfb sbhaq jvgu gur ryirf). Tonight on TV, by coincidence, a historian was talking about the Saxon god, Woden, and saying that the description of him matches perfectly that of Gandalf.

        But, if you want a Norse link in this chapter, Legolas’ elven bow strung with hair reminded me of a famous Norse Saga. The hero is defending himself and his household from an attack when his bowstring breaks. He turns to his beautiful wife, who, in looks, is rather like Galadriel with her amazingly long, golden hair, and asks her for three hairs from her head so that he can restring his bow. Years before, he had shamed her in front of her servants (she deserved it) and she finally repays him by refusing him. He is too proud to take what hasn’t been offered freely and he is overwhelmed and killed. Great story and one that Tolkien would have been familiar with.

        • notemily says:

          I'm going to rot13 the [Evqref bs Ebuna ovg orpnhfr jr qba'g xabj zhpu nobhg gurz lrg.]

          • rubyjoo says:

            Thanks, notemily. I'm a bit slow sometimes. As long as I'm not actually giving away the story-line, I assume it's OK. But I see why you have done this now.

  44. sixth_queen says:

    Gur Pbhapvy bs Ryebaq unf n ybg bs sberfunqbjvat nobhg fghss va gur cerfrag gvzr. Jura Sebqb jnf fgvyy qvqqyvat va Gur Fuver va Whar, Obebzve naq Snenzve jrer ergerngvat sebz Bftvyvngu ol fjvzzvat gur Evire, naq Jbezgbathr jnf cbvfbavat Gurbqra.

  45. platoapproved says:

    This review was hilarious, as always. Diva Legolas! Shifty Boromir! And for the record, the first time I read this I'm pretty sure I was surprised at the reveal that it was Gollum following them.

    I mean, I was about 7 or 8 years old at the time, but still. ;D

    • flootzavut says:

      Qvin Yrtbynf znxrf zr guvax bs gung Pnffnaqen Pyner(?) svp jvgu yrtbynf jbeelvat nobhg jurgure be abg Sebqb vf cerggvre guna ur vf…

      • @redbeardjim says:

        "Qnl 125: Fgvyy abg Xvat."

      • wahlee says:

        She was still Cassandra Claire then, before she got published and tried to act like she'd never even heard of fanfiction (and certainly didn't write it, especially not the NC-17 Ron/Ginny incest fic titled "Mortal Instruments" just like her books, oh, no).

        • notemily says:

          Blarg, I hate that. Especially since Jace from her book is pretty much identical to Draco Trilogy Draco… but she'd never admit it.

          I remember LIKING "Mortal Instruments," too. I was kind of pissed off when she wiped it from the face of the internet.

        • Waiiiiit they're the same person? I've been seeing her books in bookshops and…skipping merrily past them without even reading the blurb on the back. I might glance at the cover now.

          • wahlee says:

            Yup, same person. But don't bother reading them, because if you've already read the Draco Trilogy, you've read them already.

            • Is this the point where I admit that I've not read any of the Potter books, seen any of the Potter films and the only Potter fic I've read is… the one where Draco's dad trepans Draco's head for um. sexy fun times?

              • wahlee says:

                Ah. Well, still don't. Because she's a plagiarist and a jerk and her writing is really quite terrible.

          • calimie says:

            She's a plagiarist. Not a concept here or there: whole lines from Buffy and Red Dwarf and whole paragraphs from Pamela Dean's books.
            Here's a summary:

            • Tauriel_ says:

              Yeah, I've read all sorts of INTERNET DRAMA about her, and I can't say I'm a fan (I've certainly never read any of her, uh, "pro" fiction…).

              HOWEVER – I firmly believe that the Very Secret Diaries are brilliant and hilarious and should remain a fanfiction classic forever. 😀

              Pervy hobbit-fanciers! 😀

              • calimie says:

                Oh yes, her VSD are excellent! It's just that she's one of my most hated writers ever because her plagiarism was so extensive and she never apologized or anything. Her behaviour was terrible. For some time I thought she was in her teens or early twenties but she was a journalist! In her thirties! I couldn't believe she was so inmature.

                *fgvyy gur cerggvrfg*

  46. manybelldown says:


    Nah, read the Sherlock Holmes story "The Lion's Mane". I yelled at Holmes for 20 pages until he figured that one out.

  47. Geolojazz says:

    "There’s nothing quite like the experience of feeling unprepared, especially since we rarely want to feel this way outside of a fictional world. The beauty of fiction is in crafting a believable scenario, one we immerse ourselves into so fully that we forget details and foreshadowing, one where we are completely lost in for days and days."

    That's a great quote about the experience of good fiction, and of letting oneself be swept away by it. 😀

  48. atheistsisters says:

    Aw, Mark, don't worry about not figuring Gollum out. This book, no matter how much you think about it, is just TOO BIG to comprehend the first 10 reads or so.

    Oh, and I'm trying not to use the internet today as a protest, but this is one of the vital sites I had to check.

  49. Leah-san says:

    Legolas is totally badass. Shooting that thing down? Oh, it's nothing. Shows you how scary the Balrog really was, if even Legolas was scared of it.

  50. Becky_J_ says:

    Oh Mark, you are so adorable. Honestly, it kind of enhanced the experience, that you didn’t know, at least for me. I mean, we really thought you were just trolling us, and yes, a WHOLE lot of the rot13 was dedicated to us trying to figure it out/giggling at your unpreparedness. But imagine how fun it was for us to anticipate your realization! This is the best part of what you do, Mark. Some of us might have figured it out earlier, but to see you so engrossed in the story, trying to figure it out, even imagining that its some new creature we’ve never seen… its magical.

  51. Hotaru_hime says:

    Boromir makes everyone anxious in this chapter. It feels like he got dropped into a story and he doesn't have the imagination to keep up with the scope of it. He's also been a bit of a Negative Nancy.
    Gollum! Pity stayed Bilbo's hand so he'd have a part to play here!
    Don't feel bad about not knowing that it was Gollum right away. I certainly didn't and I'm sure there are others who facepalmed when Frodo said it out loud.

    • ljrTR says:

      Maybe it's the portrayal in the films, but after much time and many re-readings, I feel more sympathetic toward Boromir. Quite a realistically portrayed character. Who among us would have really been always true-blue Sam? Many people would have acted and thought more like Boromir. And he had a heavy load himself, always caring about the safety of his people back home.

  52. Katarina says:

    Legolas is SUCH a diva, I loved that comment!

    "nf jryy nf gur cbffvovyvgl gung Zvenf Gvevgu vf tbvat gb qrenvy gur jubyr fgbel"

    *teva* Jryy, gung qrcraqf ba jung lbh guvax gur fgbel VF, qbrfa'g vg?

    Also, I feel a bit sorry for Mark. Ur'f pbzvat hc ba fbzr ernyyl hcfrggvat puncgref, juvyr ng gur fnzr gvzr pbzvat hc ba fbzr ernyyl hcfrggvat Ohssl rcf. Vg'f NJRFBZR gvzvat, ohg abg irel pbzsbegvat.

  53. Becky_J_ says:

    Okay. So. Look…. well, there's no easy way to tell this story without making me look bad, so I'm just going to go for it. WARNING. THIS IS A REAL CONVERSATION THAT HAPPENED IN MY HOUSE. FOR ABOUT TWO HOURS. Although, in my defense, I was SUPER sleep deprived. Probably doesn't help anything though. Anyways….

    This entire thing started with one tiny exchange in this chapter. IT'S PROBABLY THE MOST UNIMPORTANT THING TO EXIST EVER. Tolkien probably didn't even remember he wrote it in! It's barely even related to LOTR but the book DID start the entire thing, so I had to share. It's this:

    "Once or twice the travellers heard the rush and whine of swan-wings, and looking up they saw a great phalanx streaming along the sky. 'Swans!' said Sam. 'And mighty big ones too!' 'Yes,' said Aragorn, 'and they are black swans.'"

    And so, here are all the ridiculous sentences that followed, all of these things said by yours truly, over the course of about two hours.

    ~"Wait, swans can fly???? I mean, I knew they could fly above water a little bit, like how chickens can only go a little ways, but I didn't know they could fly, like….pigeons."

    ~"Okay, but how do you KNOW they're swans?? Is there like an inherent swan-wing noise? LOOK, THEY CAN'T KNOW THAT THEY'RE SWANS BY HEARING ALONE. THEY CAN'T."

    ~"Do black swans really exist? ARE THEY REAL, OR IS THIS ANOTHER THING THAT TOLKIEN MADE UP?? I've never seen…. oh. Wait. There's a whole movie about them. Although technically 'them' here means dancers who take their profession a little too far. And I'm sure BLACK SWANS CAN FLY AS WELL, RIGHT?!"

    ~"I wish it was spelled 'sa-waaaahn.' SA-WAAAAHN. Doesn't that just go better? Also, I bet panda bears and and swans wouldn't get along that well. I bet the swan would win."

    ~"Search Google to see if swans fly!! ….It comes up second in the autofill?? SEE?? I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE. No one knows if swans can really fly for sure, off the top of their heads!!!"

    ~"Hey, what sounds do swans make?? Do they honk? Do they hoot? THESE ARE IMPORTANT QUESTIONS. I NEED TO KNOW. ….They do what?? They trumpet, they hiss, and they whistle? Well… that's disappointing. I was really hoping they hooted. It would be cute."

    ~"What do you mean, someone asked, 'What is it called when swans swim gracefully?' THAT'S NOT A REAL QUESTION. It's called swimming gracefully. Come on now. I mean, we can't ALL be swan experts, but let's get real."

    ~"Look, I'm dancing like a swan! Normally, that would mean that I was dancing gracefully, but SINCE THERE'S NO SPECIAL WORD for how they swim, I GUESS WE DON'T KNOW HOW I'M DANCING."

    I then proceeded to draw a swan on my whiteboard, with the caption saying, "I'M BOB. Bob the swan. I don't eat, drink, swim, fly, or breath. I just sit here, being a swan. Except when there's a panda bear around, of course. HOOT." I was going to post the picture of this masterpiece, but I decided that there's really no reason to humiliate myself further. WHY YES I AM AN ART MAJOR THANK YOU.

    And, to end, here is my last quote of the night….
    ~"This is why I went to four years of school and spent thousands of dollars on my education. This exact moment. SWANS. THANK YOU TOLKIEN. "

    *DISCLAIMER* Please don't judge me, I promise that I am more intelligent than this conversation lets on…at least when I sleep. Tomorrow I will be back with a semi-intelligent and thought-provoking comment! 🙂

    • monkeybutter says:

      "Search Google to see if swans fly!! ….It comes up second in the autofill?? SEE?? I'M NOT THE ONLY ONE. No one knows if swans can really fly for sure, off the top of their heads!!!"

      And this is exactly why I would die if Google shut down for a day.

      • Becky_J_ says:

        EXACTLY. And I had a hard time with Wikipedia too, because I say "I don't know, Google it" or "I don't know Wikipedia it" EVERY SINGLE DAY. Also, how else am I supposed to learn about swans and other SUPER IMPORTANT THINGS without it??

        • monkeybutter says:

          It's impossible. Which is why all of the Americans on here should call their senators and representatives about SOPA and PIPA.

          And then disable javascript on wikipedia because you can't live without it.

        • blossomingpeach says:

          I don't know how I would live without the internet as it is today. I seriously have confidence in myself because I know I can do anything with Google behind me. I'm an effective troubleshooter in my job because I know how to find the answers to problems on the internet. My awesomeness would deteriorate 5000% percent if I couldn't just go to a computer every time I had a question or wanted to know some information. I also think I would lose my mind a little bit.


  54. Katherine says:

    Mark, I have a suggestion. If you don't want to watch the movies until you've read all the books, listen to the soundtrack for Fellowship of the Ring once you've finished the book. The musical themes for all of the major places are very distinctive and evocative and – while I'm not a huge fan of a lot of what the movies did – the music is very good at transporting you into the world of Middle-earth.

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      No no no no no! I completely disagree. Please, Mark, don't do it! It's too wonderful to hear the music for the first time when watching the movie. Don't spoil yourself!

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        I agree with you too – save the soundtracks for the movies! I've found in the past when I've listened to the soundtrack before watching a movie, it spoils one very important piece of the movie and changes my experience of watching it the first time. Save any soundtrack listening for after you've watched the movies!

    • rabidsamfan says:

      I admit that as I'm rereading what I'm hearing is not the beautiful music of these movies but the heroic travelling music of 'Monty Python and the Holy Grail.'

  55. notemily says:

    I had to look up a ton of words in this chapter! Most of them I could figure out by context, but I still wanted to know their exact definitions.

    "husband" = To use sparingly or economically; conserve. (Why? I have no idea.)
    "mead" = Meadow (Well, obviously. *facepalm*)
    "wold" = An unforested rolling plain; a moor
    "eyot" = A small island in a river or lake

    Anyway, I love the image of the Argonath, the great kings, towering over them, making even Frodo and Boromir avert their eyes as if the actual kings were watching them.

    Killing off Dumbledore? …Mark?

    Hee hee yeah, it was really easy to guess that the thing following them was Gollum, but we all kept quiet so as not to spoil you. Pale, luminous eyes! Sniffling! Climbing trees! IT ALL FITS.

    Yes, Legolas is pretty hilarious. 😀 As has been depicted in much fanart, fanfic, and silly images/gifs. Making fun of Legolas just never gets old.

    This is spoilery for a line in the movie, but it's Gingerhaze's wonderful take on silly Legolas: Legolas is totally my favorite

    • feminerdist says:

      I love sassy Legolas.

      But that quote under the link brought up something my friend and I discussed: zbivr Yrtbynf'f bayl qvnybthr vf fgngvat gur boivbhf.

    • rubyjoo says:

      Notemily, I seem to have links with all your geographical references, LOL! Not only do I live near Wetwang, I also live near the Yorkshire Wolds, attractive and gently rolling hills, mainly used as farmland.

    • Atrus says:

      Husband comes from an Old English term (itself derived from Old Norse) for "master of the house"; husbandry was the care and managing of a household and, consequently, it implied being able to conserve stuff and make good use of money. The current meaning of "the guy in a marriage" is much more recent.

    • Alice says:

      Gingerhaze killed me with that one xD

  56. arctic_hare says:

    Killing off… Dumbledore? xD

    And okay, yes, I did giggle a little at your not figuring out it was Gollum, but to be fair, it's not so obvious to everyone the first time through. I have no memory of whether I figured it out myself or not. But the whole thing did remind me of you being shocked that Ozai was Zuko's dad, and missing the description of Mr. World matching that of Loki in American Gods. Your unpreparedness is a gift (gb gur sbrf bs Zbeqbe BU ZNA V PNA ARIRE FGBC DHBGVAT GUR ZBIVRF RIRE) and we cherish it, precious.

    Anyway, down to the meat of the chapter. I have lots of feelings for Legolas, and they are all warm and fuzzy and amused. He is pretty funny. My favorite part with him this chapter, though, was that moment in the boats after he shot at that… thing… and Gimli is praising him and I just went AWWWW OMG YOU GUYS <3 because I love seeing them be friends now. Friendship themes are the bestest ever. 😀

    Back to the… thing: "Even as he did so, a dark shape, like a cloud and yet not a cloud, for it moved far more swiftly, came out of the blackness in the South, and sped towards the Company, blotting out all light as it approached." That… that could just be Appa, right? Appa and the rest of Team Avatar! OH MAN HOW USEFUL WOULD THEY ALL BE HERE, SERIOUSLY? ESPECIALLY TOPH! But I suppose one does not simply Bend into Mordor, so it has to be something else. 🙁 Jbj, ur pnhtug gung vg jnf n Anmthy. Avpr!

    BOROMIR WHAT THE FUCK. STOP THAT. YOU ARE FREAKING ME OUT. YOU BETTER NOT BE LIKE… FIXING TO EAT ROAST HOBBIT OR SOMETHING. Also, what is this? "To the tall isle I will go, but no further. There I shall turn to my home, alone if my help has not earned the reward of any companionship." Wow, BE MORE PASSIVE-AGGRESSIVE, DUDE.

    The Argonath is badass, I seriously would love to see something like that. <3

  57. cat lady says:

    A black swan, you say? Well, perhaps a white swan, swimming on a black river…
    <iframe width="420" height="315" src="; frameborder="0" allowfullscreen></iframe>

  58. So all I think I’ve learned is that the Elves live VERY long lives? That would explain why Elrond was so much older than I thought he could be, and why I was confused about that. But they’re not actually immortal, right?

    …is this just a kind of pondering or a question we can go ahead and answer, Mark?

  59. TheFormerAstronomer says:

    Orgjrra puncgre 10 bs SbGE naq gur arkg pbhcyr bs rcvfbqrf bs Ohssl, V nz cbfvgviryl obhapvat jvgu rivy tyrr gb frr jung Znex znxrf bs gurz.

    V nz fb zrna! 😉

  60. NotQuiteDave says:


    Gur pybfre jr trg gb gur raq bs 'Sryybjfuvc..' gur zber pbasyvpgrq V trg. Sbe vs Znex jngpurf gur svyz fgenvtug nsgre svavfuvat gur obbx gura ur jvyy or znffviryl fcbvyrq sbe gur bcravat bs 'Gur Gjb Gbjref'. Ubjrire, gb jnea uvz bs guvf jbhyq or fcbvyrel va naq bs vgfrys. Fb V'z nfxvat lbhe sbe bcvavbaf/crezvffvba vs V fubhyq gryy Znex gung ur fubhyqa'g jngpu 'Sryybjfuvc..' hagvy ur ernqf gur svefg puncgre bs 'Gbjref'. Jung qb lbh guvax?

  61. Leah-san says:

    I still think you should read all the books, THEN watch the movies. There are some arrangements in the movies that take plot elements that are later in the book earlier, and it would spoil you a lot. I hope I haven't said too much already.

  62. jenesaispas21 says:

    The sheer number of times the mods must read "please make sure Mark reads ALL the books before watching the movies" is straight up mind-boggling, lol. You can tell most people don't read comments regularly…

    *much love for all your patience!*


    • wahlee says:

      If Mark would just tell us when he plans on watching the movies, we wouldn't have to keep bringing it up. 😛

      • rabidsamfan says:

        *snerk* Yeah, movies and maps both get mentioned a lot, but there has been a bit of a dearth of "answer" to explain our persistence.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Yeah, I agree with wahlee, I think that's the issue – we haven't heard any response from Mark regarding the serious concerns we've had about him watching the movies as he reads the books. That's the main reason why it keeps coming up, and now that we're near the end of FotR we're all wondering if there's going to be any change in plans. I guess we'll find out tomorrow or Friday.

      Also, I find it a bit unfair to state that by bringing up the topic again, we're not reading the comments like everyone else. I usually go through the majority of the comments on here, but I support Team One Novel. Unless I missed something, I didn't see Mark's response to the debate. (correct me if I'm wrong)

      • jenesaispas21 says:

        I agree that he should as well (the "Team One Novel" thing). But there's no way he's "missed" this argument or the various points on each side, given how vociferous everyone has been. My comment was meant to be funny and sympathize with the mods.

        That said, perhaps he has good reasons for not weighing in just yet.

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          Yeah I think in the back of my mind I figured he'd wait to announce anything until he finished FotR. Still, with no response that he was reconsidering his movie schedule and/or would make the decision at the end of FotR, it kind of left us wondering what Mark was thinking. We weren't mentioning it again to be redundant, or out of ignorance, but because it was clearly up for debate and was not yet resolved. So…we just kept waving our Team One Novel flags here and there, to show we still existed, and hoped for a response from Mark. 🙂

          That being said, I also see what you're saying about the patience of the mods. They should win ALL THE THINGS for combing through our long-winded and persistent rants, editing out any spoilers. 🙂

  63. Eira says:

    This chapter is quite the opposite from the former, where the fellowship were in safe lands (oh well, as safe as you can possibly feel in Middle Earth anyway, it's not exactly Kansas, and they are now on their own again, heading for unknown places. The uneasiness that the fellowship is experiencing is so intimidating, but at the same time, they are not really getting anywhere in this chapter (metaphorically speaking. Obviously they are moving many miles).

    I am also quite astonished over how long it took you to solve the Gollum-mystery, Mark! I know you are an observant reader and all, but I had guessed/hoped for Gollum since the very first signs of the company being followed. But on the other side, I guess it depends on which character you find most interesting. Personally I have been creeped out/fascinated beyond limits of Gollum ever since I first read the Hobbit as a kid, and though he tends to give me nightmares from time to time, I still can't get enough of him. There simply isn't enough Gollum in these books!

    As a linguistic note, I can mention that Gollum's words "my precious" are translated in the Norwegian version of the book as "min kossssteligste" which almost literary means the same thing, apart from "kosteligste" being a word that hardly ever is used in Norwegian (I don't think that I've heard of it before the Hobbit) which gave it an extra EXTRA creepy sensation. In fact, I now dread going to bed after writing this. 😀

    • ARITHMANCER says:

      That's a good job by the translator! They must have picked that obscure word for its lovely hissy s's…

  64. I love the scenery in this chapter so much, weird as that may sound. Not only is it a beautiful contrast to the beauty that was Lothlorien, it's also really chilling to the reader. Just by describing the bleak country and the fact that they're all stuck in boats for extremely long periods does wonders for showing just how miserable their journey is.

    I've always been so impressed by the Argonath- and the change it wreaks on Aragorn. It's almost like he'd lost sight of what his heritage as Isildur's heir was- I'm not saying he ever forgot it, mind you, but I think it says something that one of Tolkien's favorite sayings (according to my old history teacher anyway, who owns pretty much everything he wrote) was "Out of sight, out of mind." I think that seeing the evidence of the glory of his ancestors really- I don't want to say gave Aragorn a confidence boost, since he's been pretty strong throughout, but I think it definitely brought his resolve to the forefront. He's been so mysterious throughout, but now we see the full force of his claim to his ancestry, and him taking pride in it, which I think is easy for just about anyone to relate to. It's probably one of my favorite overlooked character moments in the series.

  65. kasiopeia says:

    I work in a bookstore and today there was this 10-year old boy there who had just finished Lord of the Rings, and demanded that I found him something equally good. I wanted to kiss him (only I didn't because that would have been totally inappropriate and unprofessional). I know we talk a lot here about how dense this book is, how much information it contains, and about HOW MUCH TIME IS SPENT WALKING. But this kid had read through the entire thing in three weeks, and just wanted more! I find that amazing, and after so many young people coming to the store only interested in Twilight, it's refreshing 🙂

    • Maybe there's still hope for the younger generation! (though who am I kidding, I'm not even twenty, lol) But in all seriousness, that's adorable and awesome and may that child live long and prosper.

    • Cassie5squared says:

      I want to meet this kid. 😀 That reminds me so much of what I was like after reading the books for the first time. I must've been about nine or so, I just picked up the books one day and sat down and just read and read and read until I'd finished. A lot of the subtler stuff went way over my head at that point – I'd never even heard of Tolkien beyond my grandmother saying "I think you might like these" and giving me the books – but that was my introduction to real high fantasy, and I've never looked back.

      We need more kids who enjoy this stuff. One of the very few ways I can actually make real friends is through shared love of reading.

      …I think that's why I love this site so much. As soon as I have my financial issues fixed, I'm definitely buying Mark's books. His reviews have taken me back into the books I love and shown me things I hadn't noticed before, and made me love them even more.

      Keep going, Mark! And if you ever manage to come to the UK I will do my utmost to come and see you!

      • kasiopeia says:

        I read it for the first time when I was 11, and I missed a lot the first time as well. But that means that I've gotten to discover new things every time I read it again, and I love that 🙂

        That's exactly why I love this place as well! You get to experience all the books again through new eyes and I love it! Mark often notices different things than I did and that makes it even more fun 🙂 I will definitely buy the books as they come out 🙂 And the HP book when I get paid 😀

  66. AmandaNekesa says:

    "Bu tbq, Tnaqnys, jurer ner lbh? Bu, evtug, lbh’er qrnq. Gunaxf sbe gung, Gbyxvra."
    Rirel gvzr V frr Znex zragvbavat Tnaqnys'f qrngu V whfg ynhtu dhvrgyl gb zlfrys. V'z trggvat zber naq zber nakvbhf gb frr Znex'f ernpgvba gb gung erirny. Nyfb – YBY Qhzoyrqber! V guvax lbh'er trggvat lbhe obbxf & punenpgref zvkrq hc gurer, Znex!

    "I’ve said it a few times, but the amount of tension that’s built up so far is unbelievable to me. WE ARE STILL IN THE FIRST “BOOK” AND I CAN BARELY HANDLE THIS."
    UNUNUNUNUN….V nyjnlf trg fb tyrrshy jurarire Znex gnyxf nobhg Gbyxvra'f fxvyy sbe ohvyqvat fhfcrafr. Lbh qba'g xabj unys bs vg lrg, Znex. Vg'f jura vg fcyvgf bss sbe unys n obbx gung V nyjnlf mbbz guebhtu gur obbxf. V'z eryvfuvat va gur zrer gubhtug bs uvf ernyvmngvba gung jr qba'g trg gb Fnz & Sebqb'f fgbel hagvy Obbx Sbhe.

    "V nz fb ybfg vafvqr gur jbeyq bs Zvqqyr-rnegu, naq V ybivat rirel frpbaq bs vg. Nyfb, pna l’nyy whfg trg n ohapu bs cvyybjf naq gvffhrf ernql sbe zr? Vs gurer’f nalguvat gung guvf puncgre qbrf sbe zr, vg npgf nf n tvnag jneavat gung gur shgher bs guvf vf tbvat gb qrfgebl zr sberire."
    Bu zna, jr'ir oneryl fpengpurq gur fhesnpr bs urnegoernxvat ng guvf cbvag…V'z fb shyy bs pbzcyrgr naq hggre wbl bire gur snpg gung ur'f nf hacercnerq nf ur vf. V rkcrpg fbzr cerggl XRLFZNFU-svyyrq cbfgf gb fgneg hc fbba. Jung, jvgu gur fcyvggvat bs gur fgbevrf, rnpu punenpgre'f fgbel nep, naq gur creznarag punatr/qnzntr gung jr frr va rnpu bs gur punenpgref sebz gurve rkcrevraprf & fhssrevat… Znex vf fb hasngubznoyl hacercnerq, naq V ybir vg!

    Gollum, lol! Mark, we definitely weren't saying you were dense whatsoever, but we were all rather shocked that you didn't pick up on this earlier. I mean, you picked up on the subtlest of subtle hints that there could be something between Aragorn & Arwen, which most people completely miss on their first time through, but yet you missed THIS? It did indeed fill a lot of rot-13'd comments, which mostly consisted of unbridled glee, evil grins and laughter at your unpreparedness.

    V pna'g jnvg hagvy Tbyyhz wbvaf gur fgbelyvar bs Sebqb & Fnz…V'z rkpvgrq sbe Znex gb haqrefgnaq zber nobhg Tbyyhz'f vagragvbaf naq uvf riraghny ebyr va gur cybg.

    " Sebqb ghearq naq fnj Fgevqre, naq lrg abg Fgevqre; sbe gur jrngurejbea Enatre jnf ab ybatre gurer. Va gur fgrea fng Nentbea fba bs Nengubea, cebhq naq rerpg, thvqvat gur obng jvgu fxvyyshy fgebxrf; uvf ubbq jnf pnfg onpx, naq uvf qnex unve jnf oybjvat va gur jvaq, n yvtug jnf va uvf rlrf: n xvat ergheavat sebz rkvyr gb uvf bja ynaq.

    Abj, boivbhfyl ur vf abg culfvpnyyl zbecuvat vagb nabgure crefba. Gbyxvra’f hfvat guvf gb gnyx nobhg Sebqb’f creprcgvba bs guvf punenpgre, gb qrzbafgengr ubj n ybpngvba be n evat be na rirag zvtug pnhfr uvz gb creprvir fbzrbar va n arj yvtug."
    Nz V ernqvat guvf jebat, be qbrf vg frrz yvxr Znex arire cvpxrq hc ba gur snpg gung Nentbea vf gur urve bs Vfvyqhe, naq urve gb gur guebar bs Tbaqbe? V qba'g erzrzore uvz zragvbavat vg va rneyvre puncgref jura vg'f ersreraprq. Unf nalbar ryfr abgvprq guvf, be nz V whfg orvat sbetrgshy?

    Here is some wonderful Ted Nasmith art of the Argonath (a slightly different angle from another of his posted earlier):

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

    And here's John Howe's take on it:

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

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:


      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Tolkien's description, brought to life by these artists, creates such an epic location. <3 The Argonath!

    • notemily says:

      [Qhqr, vs Znex UNFA'G cvpxrq hc ba gur Nentbea = Xvat guvat lrg, vg'f whfg tbvat gb or zber tybevbhf jura ur QBRF.]

      Also, fantastic arts!

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        Haha, you're right, gung erirny vf tbvat gb or fb nznmvat, vs ur gehyl unfa'g cvpxrq hc ba gung lrg. Vg znxrf zr ynhtu gbb, orpnhfr ur'f cvpxrq hc ba zbfg bs gur ernyyl fhogyr uvagf eryngvat gb bgure guvatf. Gvqovgf yvxr Nentbea/Nejra naq Tnynqevry = Nejra'f tenaqzbgure ur pnhtug, ohg fbzr bs gur ynetre cybg cbvagf ur'f gbgnyyl zvffrq, juvpu vf svar ol zr, ohg gbgnyyl uvynevbhf gb guvax bs! 😀

      • TheFormerAstronomer says:

        V'ir qrpvqrq gung Znex vf n ovg yvxr Cvccva* – raguenyyrq ol gur fheebhaqvatf naq gur vzzrqvngr fvghngvba jvgu gur crbcyr gung ur'f jvgu fb znlor fbzr bs gur onpxfgbevrf ner orvat zvffrq.

        *V'z guvaxvat bs gung cbvag va EbGX jurer Tnaqnys vf yvxr 'Bu ogj, qba'g zragvba Nentbea gb Qrargube, xguk?', naq Cvccva vf nyy 'Jnvg, jung?'

  67. rabidsamfan says:

    I've done just enough canoeing and camping to find things to appreciate in this chapter. In particular the description of how difficult it was to portage around the rapids strikes me, because it's clear that they were given a good deal more than some belts and trinkets by the Elves. Most of it I imagine was food — they couldn't really stop to hunt from the river.

    And several years ago — gosh! — I wound up writing a fic about that. Because as much as the Professor gave us, there are enough details left out that we can kind of fill in the corners.

  68. WindsName says:

    Whats your opinion on SOPA?

    • notemily says:

      Mark said here:

      I would have liked to comply with the protest, as I support it, but I literally can't afford to. I would lose money from advertising that is now going to support myself. BUT I APPROVE OF THE PROTEST!

  69. Dreamflower says:

    I'm late to the party, since I was offline today in protest of SOPA and PIPA, so most everybody's said what I would have said.

    So instead, here's a link to a little fanfic vignette that is no longer spoilery:


  70. bookbug says:

    "Bu tbq, Tnaqnys, jurer ner lbh? Bu, evtug, lbh’er qrnq. Gunaxf sbe gung, Gbyxvra." Zna, V pna'g jnvg gb frr Znex'f hacercneqarff zrrg gur Juvgr Jvmneq. Zjnununun.

  71. Pearl Took says:

    I am so lost inside the world of Middle-earth,

    Oh, THIS. This, times a thousand. 🙂 I got lost inside Middle-earth many years ago. It will never, ever leave you. Ever. 🙂 There are many other books I enjoy: many other writers who I regard as good as Tolkien. But nothing else has ever affected me in the extraordinary way his imaginary world does.

    He's a wonderful storyteller, a magnificent world-builder and a great STYLIST. 🙂

    I am SO GLAD you are reading the books before seeing the Extended Editions. I speak as one who enjoyed Peter Jackson's films (I saw them enough times, LOL) but this really is the better way round!

    • rabidsamfan says:

      *perks up* He's decided? Where has he said so? (I haven't managed to find his tumblr or twitter pages yet.) This is so cool.

  72. Icarus says:

    i admit in my ROT13 I *might* have mentioned that, when I was 13, I didn't figure out it was Gollum until they reached Lorien. The skillful climbing of trees reminded me of how Gollum had escaped the elves and, oh.

  73. Parmadil says:

    You said "Losing Dumbledore"…. BEST FREUDIAN SLIP EVER!

  74. Smurphy says:

    Oh… you know what I want to do. I might do it later. I want to find all the descriptive words Tolkien used to describe Gollum as he is following them up to this point and go search for those words and see how often he used those exact same words to describe Gollum. I love that I can easily do that if I wanted to.

    I probably won't though. Thank you again for this experience. It is wonderful.

Comments are closed.