Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 1

In the first chapter of the second book of The Two Towers, OH MY GOD. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


‘Well, master, we’re in a fix and no mistake,’ said Sam Gamgee.

OH SHIT OH MY GOD IT’S SAM. Oh my god, does that mean the next ten chapters or so will be ONLY SAM AND FRODO? I’m sorry, THIS IS BRILLIANT. Is this where George R.R. Martin got the inspiration to split up character POVs? I LOVE THIS SO MUCH.

It’s been so long since we’ve seen Sam and Frodo and Tolkien very promptly reminds us that everything is incredibly fucked up. Look, flat-out, I did not expect this novel to be harrowing at all. I’m at a point where I’m so invested in the characters that Tolkien has created that I am getting irrationally upset and worried by the things that are happening to them. They aren’t real, I keep telling myself. Your worrying is not going to help keep them safe.

And neither is the journey these two hobbits have chosen to take. The slopes of the Emyn Muil are possibly the most difficult terrain they’ve passed over yet, a steep and stony set of hills and cliffs that never seem to end and never seem to let them go in the direction they want to head. I think the most significant thing I picked up out of all of this is that Frodo is simply tired. Obviously, he and Sam are physically exhausted, but that’s not surprising. Frodo just wants to end this one way or another. He is sick of carrying the Ring, he’s sick of worrying about what awaits over the next pass, and he’s sick of fretting over the outcome of his trip to Mordor. He just wants to be there, to deal with whatever Sauron has for him, and to be done with it all. Plus, they’ve now reached a point where Gollum just annoys them, since they know he is following them.

Once again, Tolkien uses his brilliant grasp of geography and vocabulary to paint a bleak and expansive picture:

Along its brink there now stretched a wide tumbled flat of scored and weathered rock, cut every now and again by trench-like gullies that sloped steeply down to deep notches in the cliff-face.

It’s such an aggressive description, one that makes the hills of the Emyn Muil seem sinister and treacherous. But it also feels incredibly lonely, as if it is a constant reminder to us of where these hobbits are and that they’ve separated from the main group. When they come upon a cliff that leads into a gully and try to figure out a way down, I can’t ignore how much harder their journey is with only two people in the whole group. I like that Sam is fairly ready to just jump down first, to test the drop in a way that won’t harm Frodo. Is it impractical? Of course it is! Plus, all I could think was DUDE DIDN’T YOU BRING ELF ROPE WHAT ARE YOU DOING.

I find it impossible to really predict anything in this book both because it’s so detailed and because Tolkien is proving to be quite good at fooling me. I cannot even fathom a guess as to what the fuck happens when Frodo hangs over the edge and that darkness arrives. Tolkien says they heard it “far away in the Marish,” but I can’t even remember then what that was. At first I thought it might be a Nazgûl, but this darkness makes it so that Frodo can’t even see. Is this something else of Sauron’s design? Why is their a scream when it arrives? WHY AM I SO CONFUSED? Right, because I am eternally unprepared.

Actually, let me take that back. I think I finally figured out one thing in this book. When Sam’s rope mysteriously seems to come untied from the stump, I think that was Gollum who untied it. I suppose that doesn’t make the most sense; at that point in the story, why would he help them? Still, I bet there’s a reason for it. Oh god, wait, I just thought of another idea. What if elf-rope is, like, magic and shit? You know, you just think something while holding it and it does that? Okay, that’s even worse of an idea than Gollum untying it. LOOK, I’M TRYING, OKAY?

It did not, however, turn out half as bad as he had expected.

Do not use those words, Tolkien. You are trying to trick me into letting my guard down so you can destroy me later. I CAN SEE YOUR PLAN A MILE AWAY.

I got a sense that I was right once Sam and Frodo tried to rest underneath a boulder and spotted Gollum on a nearby cliff. However, it actually doesn’t end up to be quite the disaster I thought it would be. Actually, it’s not much of a disaster at all once I give it some thought. There’s actually a lot of crucial information that I learn not only about Gollum but about the journey ahead from their interaction with him:

  • You know, when I first met Dobby, I thought he was a combination between Yoda and Jar Jar Binks. But I think it would be hard to deny that there is a little bit of Gollum in him as well, at least in terms of influence.
  • The way that Gollum speaks is so fascinating to me because I can’t think of another character who does that was created before he was. I’m curious what Tolkien’s decision-making process was like concerning him. Why have him speak the way he does? (As long as it’s not spoilery, I’m actually cool with y’all sharing this with me.)
  • Frodo is kind of a badass with Sting.
  • There are cats and mice in Middle-earth???
  • Despite everything, he isn’t too fond of Mordor. I suppose that makes sense. According to Gandalf and Aragorn’s tale, Gollum wasn’t exactly treated well there.
  • There are pits and thousands of Orcs in Mordor. Are the Orcs in the pits? So they’re like evil ball pits and you just slide into them and get eaten or something. Right?
  • Okay, so at one point, he actually imitates Sauron, doesn’t he? And Sauron is rather upset that he cannot find the Ring.
  • Elf-rope (or perhaps objects made with elf magic) hurt Gollum terribly.

Here’s the thing, though: it really does seem as if getting Gollum to swear by the Ring (not on it, as Frodo isn’t a fool) actually calms him down. It’s a whole behavioral change on Gollum’s part, and there’s nothing in the text to suggest that it’s not genuine. Still, I don’t know if I necessarily trust Gollum yet. It might be in his best interest to destroy the Ring so that it eliminates this uncontrollable power it has over him, but he doesn’t even know why Frodo is going to Mordor, does he?

I’m completely intrigued by this idea, though. Is Gollum really going to help Sam and Frodo? Or is this all a trick?

(Note: I realize this is technically book “four,” but the way I’ve been labeling posts, it doesn’t make sense that way. Just pointing this out before someone says it’s a mistake.)

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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338 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 1

  1. Becky_J_ says:

    "Well, master, we're in a fix, and no mistake," said Sam Gamgee.
    <img src=""&gt;
    *ahem* anyways…….You know what the lembas bread reminds me of? Lothlorien. So freaking long ago, in Lothlorien. And we thought that shit was real, but looking back, EVERYTHING WAS SUNSHINE AND ELVES AND HAPPINESS. Everything now is so damn BLEAK in comparison. Gah. AND Gollum is still following them…. in case you wanted to sleep tonight, let me show you what they have to see all the time in the dark….YOU'RE WELCOME.
    <img src="; width="600">
    ~What do I love?? If you all have forgotten, I LOVE SAMWISE GAMGEE. And his rope. His blessed, blessed rope. So adorable, the love of a hobbit for his rope. And it comes in mighty useful, too! I love when they think they lost it and Sam pulls it and it just falls to his feet, because he CALLED it. Makes me think that they were only a split second away from doing the same, but it's elven rope, so that was not the case!
    ~"Poor, poor Smeagol, he went away long ago. They took his Precious, and he's lost now." GAH. Damn you Tolkien for making me feel pity for a creature that should be easy to hate!! Makes me wanna cry.
    <img src=""&gt;

    Mostly, I AM JUST SO DAMN EXCITED THAT WE'RE BACK WITH SAM AND FRODO, but damn, this chapter is bleak and depressing and disheartening and suspicious. WHAT ARE YOU DOING TOLKIEN. WHAT.

    I think this last gif is pretty apt for this chapter…..(man, I am OUT OF CONTROL with the gifs lately)
    <img src=""&gt;

  2. Jenny_M says:

    I never thought that it might have been Gollum who untied the rope – I always took what Sam said at face value: the rope knew it was needed, so it just…unknotted itself!

    I remember being so relieved to get to this chapter. I missed Sam and Frodo so much!

    Movie stuffs: Nyy gur Bfpnef sbe Naql Frexvf. NYY BS GURZ. V JVYY ARIRE SBETVIR GUVF BIREFVTUG.

    • plaidpants says:

      Frevbhfyl. V whfg pna'g vzntvar ubj Tbyyhz jbhyq unir ghearq bhg jvgubhg uvf nznmvat cresbeznapr.

    • blossomingpeach says:

      Re: your rot13. YES.

    • flootzavut says:

      Fb fbbbbbbb nterr jvgu lbhe EBG13 cerpvbhf – gubhtu V nz sberire FB UNCCL gung jr FGNEG GUR 3EQ ZBIVR jvgu uvz, NAQ gung ur trgf gb or va gur perqvgf nf Fzrntby <3

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Bar bs zl snibevgr ovgf va gur fcrpvny srngherf vf Frexvf qrpevovat ubj ur xarj nyzbfg abguvat nobhg Ybeq bs gur Evatf jura gur pnyy sbe Tbyyhz jrag bhg, naq gura ernq gur obbx naq ortna funxvat jvgu rkpvgrzrag. "Bu zl tbq, guvf vf nznmvat! Guvf punenpgre vf gur orfg jevggra cneg va vg!"

      • flootzavut says:

        <3 Naql Frexvf vf njrfbzr 🙂

        V qba#g jnag gb cbfg cvpf bs Tbyyhz, orpnhfr V'q ybir Znex gb or hafcbvyrq sbe gung, ohg FB grzcgrq gb cbfg cvpf bs Naql va gur zbgvba pncgher fhvg…

        • Fiona says:

          V nyjnlf srry fb fbeel sbe uvz orvat fghpx va gung guvat jvgu rirelbar fgnaqvat nebhaq va gurve pbby pbfghzrf naq jvtf. Vg zhfg unir orra xvaq bs qrcerffvat. Cyhf gung cneg jurer ur unq gb whzc va gung serrmvat pbyq evire. Ur qrfreirf na njneq sbe gung nybar :). Fvyyl npnqrzl njneqf crbcyr.

    • arctic_hare says:

      SO MUCH AGREEMENT to your rot13.

    • Alice says:

      Agree with your rot13;the asses!!:@

    • Icarus says:

      I'm not convinced Gollum untied the rope. Why not use it himself if he's following them, rather than climb face first down the wall?

    • Alexander_G says:

      Ur jba na ZGI njneq. Naq gura guvf unccrarq:
      ^there is a spoiler in there btw

      • flootzavut says:

        Oh PLEASE show this to Mark once it's no longer a spoiler 😀

        And thank you, I knew this had happened but couldn't recall enough of the details to find it!

    • bookworm67 says:

      Agreed so hard with the rot13. Because you know what happened? HE GOT NONE OF THE LEVELS AWARDS. NONE OF THEM. 🙁

      edit: npghnyyl, bxnl, ur tbg n fnghea naq fperra npgbef thvyq njneq be fbzrguvat ohg gur ubzrfghpx ersrerapr jnf gbb tbbq gb cnff hc 😉

  3. Ryan Lohner says:

    I love that the first thing we see Frodo and Sam doing after so long is a long, drawn-out sequence of descending a cliff that almost feels like it's out of a Buster Keaton movie. "Oh wait, I had a rope this whole time!" Both reminding us how completely out of their depth they are, and letting us have a bit of lightness from them before things inevitably turn dark as hell.

  4. knut_knut says:

    "No, no! Sam, you old ass! ' said Frodo.
    "Ninnyhammers! ' he said. "Noodles! My beautiful rope!

    These two lines made me laugh SO HARD. I need to start calling people old asses and yelling out “Ninnyhammers! Noodles!” when I’m frustrated. Even though a large portion of this chapter is Things Going Wrong, it feels so light hearted after everything going on in Rohan. Or maybe I’m just really excited to see Sam and Frodo

    Sam + Rope = <3

    Movie Spoilers: V yvxr gung gurl znqr Tbyyhz zber flzcngurgvp, ohg uvf fprarf jvgu Fnz ner fb hapbzsbegnoyr gb jngpu 🙁 🙁 🙁

    • ravenclaw42 says:

      re:your rot13, GUVF. V'z fgvyy cnefvat zl gubhtugf nobhg gur zbivrirefr "sng uboovg" ohfvarff n qrpnqr yngre, ohg zl ivfpreny ernpgvba gura naq abj vf fgvyy gb ungr vg naq jnag gb uvqr va n pbeare. Gur zbivrf pnzr bhg jura choregl jnf uvggvat zr jvgu gur jrvtug-tnva znyyrg, naq V eryngrq VEY fb zhpu gb Fnz'f pnergnxre ebyr jvgu zl zbgure jub vf obgu ovcbyne naq zl orfg sevraq, naq gura rirel nhqvrapr V jnf va gubhtug gung "fghcvq sng uboovg!" jnf yvxr gur zbfg uvynevbhf naq jvggl mvatre bs nyy gvzr orpnhfr YBY UR'F SNG NAQ HAPBBY naq ynhturq jnl gbb uneq. VQX, V qba'g guvax vg'f ernyyl bhg bs punenpgre sbe Tbyyhz be na nqqvgvba gung qbrfa'g jbex sbe gur fgbel? Ohg nyfb V ungr vg jvgu n svrel cnffvba. Fgvyy gelvat gb erpbapvyr gurfr bcvavbaf.

      • flootzavut says:

        Vg'f jrveq ubj guvatf pna uvg bar crefba fb qvssreragyl sebz nabgure. V ernyyl, gehyl qba'g erpnyy jung gur ernpgvba jnf va gur pvarzn jvgu gung, ohg V arire fnj vg nf shaal, ohg nf n fvta bs ubj ivpvbhf Tbyyhz jnf orvat gung ur jbhyq cvpx ba fbzrguvat gung Fnz zvtug or ihyarenoyr nobhg. Fb vg fgehpx zr nf zhpu zber "fnq" guna "shaag", fb va n jrveq jnl orpnhfr V gubhtug vg jnf whfg zrna, V arire unq n ovt ceboyrz jvgu vg… qbrf gung znxr frafr? Gung fnvq, V pna gbgnyyl haqrefgnaq ubj lbh jbhyq ungr vg, rfcrpvnyyl tvira gur pbagrkg jura lbh svefg fnj gur zbivr.

        Uzzz v qba'g xabj vs V'z rkcynvavat zlfrys irel jryy. V thrff V jbhyq unir ernpgrq gb vg irel qvssreragyl vs gur crbcyr/nhqvraprf V'q frra vg jvgu unq ynhturq ulfgrevpnyyl, fb znlor gung fnlf gurl qvqa'g.

        • ravenclaw42 says:

          Vg znxrf frafr! Gurer'f na bowrpgvir cneg bs zr gung frrf vg gur fnzr jnl. V zrna, gur aneengvir znxrf vg pyrne gung guvf vf -onq orunivbe-, gung vg vfa'g raqbefvat Tbyyhz'f gnhagf. V qba'g rira guvax vg gevrf gb znxr gubfr gnhagf vagb n wbxr. Gur aneengvir vf abg ng snhyg. Gur snpg gung gur nhqvrapr ynhturq ersyrpgf zhpu zber ba gur nhqvrapr guna gur svyz. V guvax zl thg ernpgvba bs ungvat gubfr cnegf pbzrf ragveryl sebz gur snpg gung V xarj V jnf fheebhaqrq ol wnpxnffrf, naq gur fprarf fgvyy hygvzngryl erzvaq zr gung gur jbeyq vf shyy bs pehry crbcyr. Gurl tvir zr na "V qba'g jnag gb yvir ba guvf cynarg nalzber" fbeg bs ernpgvba. Gurer jnf nyfb n fgebat juvss bs ovtbgel nobhg gur jubyr guvat, jurer gur ybpny nhqvrapr gubhtug gung zrnaarff=pbbyarff naq fb graqrq gb or ceb-Tbyyhz, rfcrpvnyyl jura ur nohfrq Fnz, jub sryy vagb gur bccbfvgr pngrtbel bs xvaqarff=jrnxarff, jvgu na rkgen ynlre bs pnergnxvat->srzvavar orunivbe->fvffl zna->npprcgnoyr gnetrg. V qb yvir va n ertvba jurer guvf xvaq bs fuvggl guvaxvat vf zber be yrff gur abez.

          GOU V jvfu V pbhyq unir arire unq guvf gurngre rkcrevrapr, fb gung V pbhyq whfg frr gubfr fprarf nf oynpx & juvgr, tbbq naq onq, naq fgvpx zl svatref va zl rnef naq tb ~yn yn yn V oryvrir gung rirel uhzna orvat vf anghenyyl ba Fnz'f fvqr naq jbhyq abg ubarfgyl purre ba na nohfvir punenpgre~

          • flootzavut says:


            V guvax cebonoyl bar bs gur orarsvgf bs orvat Oevgvfu vf gung jr ner trarenyyl (be fb vg frrzf va zl creprcgvba) yrff qrzbafgengvir jura vg pbzrf gb jngpuvat zbivrf. V'ir urneq n ybg bs npgbef naq qverpgbef fnlat nobhg fhpu-naq-fhpu n fprar, "Bu, gung nyjnlf trgf n purre" be "crbcyr nccynhq gung" naq V guvax, rez, abg ebhaq 'rer gurl qba'g. Sbe n svyz gb trg nhqvoyr ynhtugre vf eryngviryl ener. Fb rira vs gurer jrer tvgsnprf va gur nhqvrapr jub jrer gung pehry… V cebonoyl jbhyqa'g xabj nobhg vg!

            vg fhpxf gung vg ehvarq gung sbe lbh 🙁

            • ravenclaw42 says:

              V pna'g fcrnx gb bgure ertvbaf va gur H.F., ohg jurer V yvir nhqvraprf ner cerggl qrzbafgengvir. Vg qrcraqf ba gur zbivr naq ba gur qnl & gvzr. Hfhnyyl V gel gb frr zvq-jrrx zngvarrf, juvpu ner zbfgyl rzcgl… ohg, lbh xabj, vg'f YbgE! V unq gb tb bcravat avtug, jura crbcyr jrer ng gurve zbfg boabkvbhf. Frrzf yvxr vg fubhyq or gur bgure jnl ebhaq naq gur svefg nhqvraprf fubhyq or gur dhvrgrfg, ohg nynf ab.

              Naljnl, V'ir tbar bss ba n pbzcyrgr gnatrag gung V qvqa'g zrna gb. KQ Wrexf va gur jbeyq arire fgbccrq zr sebz ybivat gur fgbevrf. Gurer ner n ybg bs Fnzf va gur jbeyq, gbb!

    • bugeye says:

      If you really read the whole lines around the Ninnyhammer comment,
      “ Sam: You’re nothing but a ninnyhamer, that’s what the gaffer said to me often enough. Frodo: “Never mind you gaffer”
      Frodo: “If you can think of any way we both could have used the rope and yet brought it down with us then you can pass on to me ninnyhammer or any other name your gaffer gave you.

      Sam really has self image/confidence issues.

      We really see Character, here Frodo telling Sam to not listen to the gaffer anymore. The whole interaction with Gollum. To me there is so much personal/interpersonal things going on the action is just for the character development

    • Katarina_H says:

      Huh. I hadn't thought of this before, but… Middle Earth has noodles. Somehow, I hadn't expected that.

      • Dreamflower says:

        Of course it does! And I would bet they were invented by hobbits. I bet all the best culinary discoveries of M-e were made/discovered/invented/improved upon by hobbits.

        • Katarina_H says:

          Yeah, I don't know if it's the movies affecting me, but I do get the feeling that hobbits are centuries before everyone else. The Men and Elves and Dwarves are all having their iron age Big Epicness, and meanwhile hobbits have noodles and pipeweed and potatoes and tomatoes.

          • Dreamflower says:

            It's not just the movies.

            Gurer ner uvagf guebhtubhg gur yrtraqnevhz, rfcrpvnyyl va gur Uvfgbel bs Zvqqyr-rnegu cnegf gung pbire YbgE, gung uboovgf unir n zber "zbqrea" fgnaqneq bs yvivat guna gur erfg bs Z-r. Gur Fuver jnf fhccbfrq gb or ersyrpgvir bs na Ratyvfu pbhagel ivyyntr nobhg gur ortvaavat bs gur 20gu p. WEEG arire rkcynvarq ubj gurl unq fbzr bs gurve "zbq-pbaf"– gung'f orra yrsg gb snasvp jevgref gb svther bhg.

            Gur "Zra" bs Z-r snyy vagb gjb fbegf: gubfr bs "beqvanel" crbcyr (yvxr gur Ebuveevz) naq gubfr bs Ahzraberna qrfprag. Ng guvf cbvag, pvivyvmngvba unf gnxra n onpxjneqf ghea naq gurve fgnaqneqf bs yvivat ner fbzrjurer nebhaq gur Zvqqyr Ntrf bs bhe gvzr– rkprcg sbe Zvanf Gvevgu, jurer gurer ner fbzr erzanagf bs gur nqinaprq fbpvrgl gung jnf Ahzrabe. Gur Qharqnva ergnvarq n ybg bs gur xabjyrqtr, ohg qhr gb gur qrfgehpgvba bs gurve xvatqbzf, qvq abg unir gur erfbheprf gb hfr nal bs gung xabjyrqtr. (WEEG uvagf gung Ahzrabe rira unq vebapynq fuvcf naq sylvat znpuvarf). Zbfgyl nyy gurl frrz gb unir ergnvarq ner fbzr bs gurve ohvyqvat grpuavdhrf naq zrqvpny xabjyrqtr. WEEG nyfb uvagf gung fhpu arj-jbeyq cynagf nf cbgngbrf, gbonppb naq fb sbegu jrer oebhtug gb Z-r ol gur Ahzrabernaf.

            Gur Ryirf (rfcrpvnyyl gur erzanagf bs gur Abyqbe) unq zhpu zber nqinaprq xabjyrqtr, ohg pubfr abg gb hfr zhpu bs vg sbe inevbhf ernfbaf. Gurve pvivyvmngvba (be fhpu bs vg nf gur uboovgf bofreir) ner ng nobhg gur yriry bs gur Eranvffnapr.

            Va fcvgr bs gur snpg gung WEEG fnlf uboovgf qba'g unir zhpu znpuvarel be nal snpgbevrf ur nyfb tvirf gurz guvatf yvxr znagry-pybpxf, cbpxrg jngpurf naq hzoeryynf. Ur arire nppbhagf sbe guvf, ohg zl bja crefbany urnqpnaba fnlf vg'f qhr gb genqr jvgu gur Qjneirf. Jr xabj gung gur Qjneirf znqr guvatf yvxr zneirybhf zrpunavpny gblf naq fb sbegu– naq rira cnffrq ba fbzr bs gung grpuabybtl gb gur Zra bs Qnyr.

            Anyhow, it doesn't take high tech to make noodles; they are a very ancient food. If you're interested, here's a little fic in which Frodo makes a dish of noodles and cheese. (I love to write recipe!fics.)

            "Comfort Food"

            • Katarina_H says:

              Thanks for that rot13, it was highly interesting!

              And no, it doesn't take high tech to make noodles, but when I think of things like the Rohirrim (who I know are supposed to be Anglo-Saxon, but who will always feel like Vikings in my head), and then I think of noodles, my head goes SYNTAX ERROR DOES NOT COMPUTE. Even though of course it's technically possible for both those things to exist at once.

              Nf sbe gur Ahzrabevnaf, gurl'er napvrag Ngynagvnaf va rirel cbffvoyr jnl, nera'g gurl? *teva* Nygubhtu gur Rtlcgvnaf unq iraqvat znpuvarf, fb erny-yvsr unf rknzcyrf bs uvtu-grpu sebz napvrag phygherf gbb.

  5. SGC51 says:

    This isn’t a spoiler because it has no impact on later events or is even really brought up again but the rope “unties” because it is Elvish rope. There is a type of magic to it. They made it down safely and the rope ‘knew’ the task was done and they needed it so it untied itself.

    • stormwreath says:

      That's never made explicit, though: it's just an assumption. (To be fair, it's the assumption Sam himself makes in the story.) It might be elven magic, or it might just be coincidence and good luck. Or it might even be divine providence watching out for Frodo and Sam, and nothing to do with the rope at all. At this stage, we just don't know.

  6. Erin says:

    We cannot tell you why Gollum speaks the way he does. Ng gur raq gur bar evat = qeht nqqvpgvba zrgncube vf cerggl pyrne ohg evtug abj vg'q or gbb fcbvyrel gb cbfg nobhg. Qeht nqqvpgvba pbhyq nygre fcrrpu va n jnl gung gur bar evat=srnef bs ahpyrne cbjre jbhyqa'g rkcynva naq tvirf jrvtug gb guvf vagrecergngvba.

    We CAN say that Tolkein once said of the idea behind the one ring "I should say that it was a mythical way of representing the truth that potency (or perhaps potentiality) if it is to be exercised, and produce results, has to be externalized and so as it were passes, to a greater or lesser degree, out of one's direct control." So perhaps the one ring affects speech because of it's "truthiness" affects a personality in some way. This is one possible interpretation of what we have read so far + Gollum's weird speech.

    • Nerdfoxy says:

      Just wild speculating here, I never thought about it much: Erin, your theory is very interesting! I think I had assumed it had something to do with Gollum being alone so much, that he developed an odd way of speaking, and if way back when he was Smeagol he spoke a different language? Then he learned the 'common speak' from hearing bits and pieces from orcs while huddled alone in the cave where Bilbo finds him? Then I would guess he'd have an odd way of speaking for sure…

      • castlewayjay says:

        I agree with your speculation more, Nerdfoxy. Years of living alone plus – gur pbasyvpg gung pnzr sebz obgu ybivat naq ungvat gur evat, ybivat naq ungvat uvzfrys, jung ur'f orpbzr – ur'f qrirybcrq gung fcyvg crefbanyvgl.

      • Saphling says:

        I always thought it was a subtler sign of the Ring kind of subsuming Smeagol's personality into an extension of itself (like the Ringwraiths). He never says "I" (as far as I can remember), but always says "we," meaning him and his Precious (the Ring).

        Example: "Baggins! We hates it forever!"

        He and the Ring hate. But that's not entirely correct. You could look at his verb forms almost always being in third-person. Not "We hate it!" but more, "It hates it," suggesting that Smeagol is more literally 'consumed' by his obsession with the Ring than might be obvious. He doesn't own the Ring. It owns him.

        Or, it's possible that I'm rambling before I've had my morning caffeine, which is always dangerous. >_>

        • castlewayjay says:

          good observation re gollum's use of "we"

        • stormwreath says:

          Actually, he does use "I" quite a bit in this chapter – especially after he promised Frodo his help.


          "We will swear to do what he wants, yes, yes. It hurts us."
          "We promises, yes, I promise! I will serve the master of the Precious."
          "There's only one way across between the North-end and the South-end. I found it, I did.(…) Very lucky you came this way."

          Basically, Gollum sometimes uses "I" and "you", and sometimes he uses "we" and "he/they/nasssty cruel hobbitses", and the difference might well be significant.

      • dazyndara says:

        Ooh, I like both these explanations! I wonder about the historical development of the “common speak” over time- would it have existed in some form at the time Gollum went into the cave, or was it a more recent development since that point? If it had existed prior, though it wasn’t his native language Gollum may have had a passing knowledge of it…while his syntax is certainly different, he still manages to comprehension Sam and Frodo. This makes me think that there must be some prior mental framework from his pre-cave days, because I can’t imagine that the goblins he encountered would have the need to use all the same areas of vocab as Sam and Frodo.

        Where’s Tauriel when you need her? 🙂

        (and yes there is a thing that I can’t rot13 about cause I’m typing this on my phone…enoovgfrf (I hope that’s right, rot13 in my head!))…

        • castlewayjay says:

          don't you hate it when you're on your phone and can't rot13??

        • stormwreath says:

          Assuming Gollum has been on his own for about 500 years, then the difference between the modern Common Tongue and the language he originally spoke would be similar to that between modern English and Shakespeare's English.

          More detail, from the Appendices:

          Gur Pbzzba Gbathr ('Jrfgeba') jnf bevtvanyyl gur ynathntr bs gur Rqnva onpx va gur Svefg Ntr, naq jnf fcbxra ol gur Aúzrabernaf – fb vg'f znal gubhfnaqf bs lrnef byq. Vg orpnzr gur bssvpvny ynathntr bs Tbaqbe naq Neabe nsgre Ryraqvy erghearq gb Zvqqyr Rnegu. Uboovgf nqbcgrq gur Pbzzba Fcrrpu nf gurve bja ynathntr nobhg n gubhfnaq lrnef ntb – Tbyyhz vf 'bayl' nobhg 500 lrnef byq.

          Gur ynathntr bs gur crbcyr bs Ebuna naq gur Abegu (gur Orbeavatf naq gur sbyx bs Qnyr) jnf eryngrq gb gur bevtvany ynathntr bs gur Rqnva orsber gurl yrsg sbe Aúzrabe. Gung'f jul Gbyxvra hfrq Natyb-Fnkba gb ercerfrag gur ynathntr bs Ebuna; gb n crefba sebz Tbaqbe be n uboovg, gur fcrrpu bs gur Evqqreznex frrzf bqqyl snzvyvne lrg nyvra gur fnzr jnl Natyb-Fnkba qbrf gb n zbqrea Ratyvfu fcrnxre. Nyfb, Jrfgeba unf znal jbeqf bs Ryivfu bevtva gung jrer nqqrq gb vg ol gur Aúzrabernaf, gur fnzr jnl zbqrea Ratyvfu unf znal jbeqf bs Serapu be Yngva bevtva gung jrera'g va gur bevtvany Natyb-Fnkba.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Tauriel is busy, unfortunately… 🙁

    • rubyjoo says:

      Well, I think we can tell Mark a couple of things that aren't spoilers about the way that Gollum speaks. I read somewhere (in The Hobbit?) that Gollum has spent such a huge amount of time on his own and in the dark that he has started to speak to himself just for a bit of company and to hear the sound of a voice. He seems to have a split personality where the Smeagol half that still forms part of his personality talks to the Gollum bit.

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      Ohg orvat pbeehcgrq ol gur Evat QBRFA'G rdhny qeht nqqvpgvba. V qba'g guvax crbcyr ernyyl shyyl haqrefgbbq qeht nqqvpgvba ng gur gvzr gung guvf jnf jevggra. Rira vs gurl qvq, Gbyxvra qvqa'g znxr nalguvat va gur obbx qverpgyl pbeeryngr gb nalguvat va erny yvsr. Ur fnlf va gur vagebqhpgvba V unir gb gur obbx gung ur ungrf nyyrtbel. Gb uvz, vg'f "nccyvpnovyvgl" gung ur frrf va gur obbx, gung pregnva fvghngvbaf pna nccyl. Naq lbh pna pregnvayl nccyl n ybg bs gur Evat fvghngvba gb qeht nqqvpgvba, ohg ng gur fnzr gvzr gurer ner n ybg bs cnegf gung qba'g pbeerfcbaq gung jnl. Vg'f n ovt cneg bs gur vagrecergngvba gung Crgre, Cuvyvccn naq Sena pnzr hc jvgu sbe gur zbivr, ohg vg fubhyqa'g or zvfgnxra sbe Gbyxvra'f vqrn bs jung gur Evat vf fhccbfrq gb or.

  7. castlewayjay says:

    My daughter hates tha Frodo parts & skips over them in the films. But I love Frodo, and I love his parts of the book.

    Gollum is a great character – a truly original creation by the dear professor. And he gives him so many fantastic lines!!

    • Nerdfoxy says:

      RE: "I’m at a point where I’m so invested in the characters that Tolkien has created that I am getting irrationally upset and worried by the things that are happening to them."

      I sometimes skip this section because it makes me so anxious!

    • Maartje says:

      I love Frodo as a character, but I just have no patience for Frodo-as-played-by-the-guy-with-the-annoying-eyebrows. Unfortunately. Every now and then I'll think "Ooh, I want to re-watch LotR!" but that thought is immediately followed by "Oh no, it has Frodo." Such a pity, because I heart the heck out of the rest of the movies.

      • castlewayjay says:

        to each their own. fortunately there's plenty in the films for everyone !
        V ybir Sebqb nf gur znva punenpgre, sbe zr, va gur obbx. V ungr jung gurl qvq gb gung punenpgre va gur svyzf. Punatrq uvz sebz n ureb gb n qnzfry va qvfgerff. onu. fgvyy, V guvax Ryvwnu Jbbq qvq n snagnfgvp wbo jvgu jung ur jnf tvira. naq V yvxr ybbxvat ng uvz, nf jryy nf ybgf bs bguref va gur pnfg…

      • tanbarkie says:

        D: !

        Elijah will always be Frodo in my mind.

        (Also, this is the first time I've seen someone refer to him by a facial feature OTHER than his eyes.)

    • Dreamflower says:

      I don’t *hate* the Frodo parts. I love Frodo and Sam as dearly as I do the other hobbits. But I do tend to skim the chapters jvgu gurz va Zbeqbe, orpnhfr vg vf fb ubeevoyl *cnvashy* gb frr gurz va fhpu qver fgenvgf, gb jngpu ubj qrgnvyrq naq ubj ernyvfgvpnyyl WEEG cbegenlf gurve fhssrevat, vg’f nyzbfg haornenoyr. V jnag gb whfg chyy gurz bhg bs gur obbx naq tvir gurz uhtf naq jngre naq n tbbq zrny.

      V nz qrgrezvarq ABG gb fxvz guvf gvzr. V nz tevggvat zl grrgu bire vg.

      • castlewayjay says:

        Forcing myself to read more slowly, after not reading the book for a long time, has been rewarding already. (Thanks, Mark!)

      • fantasy_fan says:

        I am just the opposite, and kind of the same (no, that is not a contradiction, is it precious?). I love Frodo more and more nf gur obbx tbrf ba. Uvf raqhenapr naq uvf fhssrevat, uvf jvyy naq uvf cnva, uvf fnpevsvpr naq uvf snvyher naq uvf gevhzcu, ner jung znxr uvz gur ureb sbe zr, zber guna Nentbea be Tnaqnys be Fnz. Sebqb'f qrgrezvangvba gb qb jung vg evtug, ab znggre jung vg pbfgf uvz, znxrf zr oyrrq, ohg vg nyfb fbzrubj chgf va crefcrpgvir nyy gur crggl naablnaprf bs qnvyl yvivat va gur erny jbeyq, nf jryy nf nal qrcerffvba V srry bire zl bja pvephzfgnaprf. Sebqb vf zl vafcvengvba, zl pbafbyngvba, naq gur ernfba V ernq guvf obbx bire naq bire ntnva. Ernqvat gur ynfg unys bs EBGX (rfcrpvnyyl gur Sebqb naq Fnz puncgref) vf nyjnlf thnenagrrq gb znxr zr srry orggre va fbzr jnl.

        • castlewayjay says:

          My Gosh, how did you get in my head, fantasy_fan?? Cause that is EXACTLY how I feel. and well stated by you, too

        • Dreamflower says:

          V qb xabj jung lbh zrna. Sebqb yraqf zr vafcvengvba zber guna nal bs gur bgure punenpgref qb, va gur grezf bs fvzcyl fybttvat guebhtu gur uneqrfg cnegf bs yvsr jvgubhg tvivat hc. Fgvyy, V xabj vg'f veengvbany, ohg jura V ernq bs Sebqb'f naq Fnz'f fhssrevatf, V jvfu V pbhyq URYC gurz naq V pna'g. Juvpu vf jul V qb graq abg gb qjryy ba jung gurl ner tbvat guebhtu rirel gvzr V ernq gur fgbel.

          Ohg V jba'g or fxvccvat vg guvf gvzr. Naq nyernql V svaq zlfrys srryvat fbeel sbe gurz– naq jr unira'g rira tbg naljurer arne gur uneqrfg cnegf…

          • fantasy_fan says:

            Ohg V jba'g or fxvccvat vg guvf gvzr. Naq nyernql V svaq zlfrys srryvat fbeel sbe gurz– naq jr unira'g rira tbg naljurer arne gur uneqrfg cnegf…

            Yes, sometimes it's not good to be prepared.

        • This comment deserves all the accolades. Frodo is one of the two people I list when someone forces me to pin down a favorite character in Middle-Earth. I love all of them deeply… but none of them had to endure the kind of things that Frodo did. None of them had to suffer the way he did. Naq ubarfgyl, V qba'g guvax nal bs gurz ybfg nf zhpu ur qvq, va gur raq. Naq ur qbrfa'g unir nal ertergf be erfragzrag sbe vg ng gur raq. Uvf yvar nobhg crbcyr univat gb ybfr guvatf fb gung bguref pna xrrc gurz oernxf zl urneg rirel gvzr V ernq vg. Ur'f fhpu n jbaqreshy crefba ba fb znal yriryf naq zrnaf n ybg zber guna n svpgvbany punenpgre fubhyq.

          • castlewayjay says:

            so so true. You and I are on exactly the same wavelength here!!

          • atheistsisters says:

            So what is your other favorite character? I agree with everyone saying they just want to fhccyl svefg nvq naq sbbq naq jngre naq fbsg orqf naq guvatf gb gur cbbe uboovgf va Zbeqbe. Rira Tbyyhz, V guvax V ungr uvz ohg vs ur jrer erny V jbhyq gbgnyyl or gelvat gb snggra uvz hc. Ur'f whfg fb cngurgvp. *ebyyvat rlrf ng frys* V bsgra qb fxvc encvqyl guebhtu gur Zbeqbe fghss, cnegvphyneyl jura Sebqb trgf pncgherq, orpnhfr vg'f whfg gbb cnvashy.

            • Rbjla vf zl bgure snibevgr, ohg nyy zl ernfbaf ner horefcbvyrel, urapr gur ebg13. V ybir ubj zhpu fur fgehttyrf gb svaq fbzrguvat jbegu yvivat sbe naq gung fur fgnlrq ng Gurbqra'f fvqr naq gevrq gb pner sbe uvz, qrfcvgr gung vg'f vzcyvrq gung Tevzn jnf unenffvat ure naq gung fur pbhyqa'g frr nal cbvag gb vg. V ybir ubj synjrq fur vf naq ubj fgebat fur vf qrfcvgr gubfr synjf. Ure urnyvat fgbel erfbangrf jvgu zr ba n erny yriry, zbfgyl orpnhfr V jrag guebhtu n fgntr jura V jnf lbhatre jurer V ernyyl jnagrq gb qb fbzrguvat jvgu zlfrys gung pbhyq znxr yvsr zrnavatshy, abg pnevat vs vg zrnag qlvat. Gubhtu V qvqa'g tb guebhtu nalguvat ba gur yriry bs ure gevnyf be ure frnepu sbe zrnavat, vg jnf fgvyy n ernyyl qnzarq qrcerffvat gvzr sbe zr, naq fb V ernyyl flzcnguvmr jvgu ure sbe trggvat guebhtu vg naq fgvyy orvat jvyyvat gb tvir yvsr naq vg'f wblf nabgure punapr.

          • blossomingpeach says:

            Guvf gvrf va cresrpgyl gb jung fgehpx zr lrfgreqnl. Tnaqnys naq bguref serdhragyl ersre gb ubj uboovgf ner erznexnoyl erfvyvrag; gurl yrnea jvfqbz sebz fbeebj ohg gur cnva naq gur fhssrevat vgfrys vf sbetbggra naq purreshyarff fbba ercynprf vg. Gur snpg gung Sebqb arire shyyl urnyf sebz uvf jbhaqf (vafvqr naq bhg)haqreyvarf rira zber whfg ubj zhpu ur fnpevsvprq va uvf wbhearl.

        • glyneth says:

          Nf n puvyq, nalgvzr V unq gb raqher fbzrguvat cnvashy be n uneqfuvc, V'q guvax bs Sebqb naq Fnz naq nyy gurl unq gb raqher. Vs gurl pbhyq znantr vg, V pbhyq. Fhpu nf gur qragvfg (V unq ernyyl onq qragny cubovn nf n xvq, qhr gb n ernyyl onq qragvfg), be gur puvpxra cbk V tbg jura V jnf 16, be nal bgure ahzore bs vawhevrf V qvq gb zlfrys.

          So I totally get you there.

      • notemily says:

        rot13'd a bit more of your comment because gurl'er abg npghnyyl va Zbeqbe lrg.

    • Katie says:

      V xvaq bs trg vg: va gur obbxf, gur Sebqb cnegf ner terng. Ohg n ybg bs vg vf qhr gb Gbyxvra gryyvat hf jung vf tbvat ba va uvf urnq, naq bs gur ynetre cuvybfbcuvpny fgehttyrf bs pneelvat bhg gur zvffvba qrfcvgr srne naq orvat hafher vs vg’f cbffvoyr, gur zrepl gbjneqf Tbyyhz rgp. Qbrf abg ernyyl genafyngr gb svyz jvgubhg fhpu vaare zbabybthrf, fb V graq gb fxvc vg nf jryy.

    • Fiona says:

      I do love the world building that Tolkien does and that seems more apparent in some ways in the other POV from Frodo's in some ways. Plus I just love the culture of the Rohirrim so those parts are probably my personal favourite. Saying that I can't imagine skipping any of Frodo and Sam's part because it acts so much as a balance to the rest of it and shows you exactly what everyone else is fighting for.

    • Katarina_H says:

      I like Frodo, but I must admit, I'll miss the rest of the Fellowship while these chapters last, because I have a thing for ensemble stories, and I *really* love Merry and Pippin.

  8. chikzdigmohawkz says:

    Movie spoilers (well, sort of): Lbhfr thlf, V guvax jr fubhyq xrrc vzntrf bs Crgre Wnpxfba'f Tbyyhz bss gur fvgr, orpnhfr vg vf bar bs gur ovttrfg (naq zbfg njrfbzr) fhecevfrf va gur zbivr. Whfg…fb tebhaq-oernxvat va grezf bs pbzchgre navzngvba. Gur pnegbba irefvbaf ner…jryy, gurl rkvfg. Fb V qba'g zvaq gurz. Ohg gur zbivr irefvba jnf fb njrfbzr gung V xvaq bs qba'g jnag uvz fcbvyrq sbe gung. Vg'f n gubhtug.

  9. Saphling says:

    You are trying to trick me into letting my guard down so you can destroy me later. I CAN SEE YOUR PLAN A MILE AWAY.

    Yes, Mark. Just keep telling yourself that you're prepared. >________>

    ^_^ 'Cause you're really not.

  10. flootzavut says:

    "I’m at a point where I’m so invested in the characters that Tolkien has created that I am getting irrationally upset and worried by the things that are happening to them."

    Oh Mark – join the club, seriously! Even knowing what will happen, I still get upset when bad things happen to them – especially to the hobbits.

    Fgvyy fbbbbbbbbb hacercnerq…

    " It did not, however, turn out half as bad as he had expected.

    Do not use those words, Tolkien. You are trying to trick me into letting my guard down so you can destroy me later. I CAN SEE YOUR PLAN A MILE AWAY."

    Hahaha Tolkien is trolling you again 😀

  11. Alice says:

    THE TAMING OF SMEAGOL…"what is this chapter title?????I can't even…oh my…" 😀 that was my reaction when I first read the book.On another note,yay!Frodo and Sam are back!I've missed those guys.And talk about making a deal with the devil…And the events of the chapter in pics 🙂

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;

    <img src=""&gt ;

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""&gt;

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;

    In this order: Ted Nasmith-No way down,John Howe-Lembas,John Howe-Gollum sketch,Angus McBride-Gollum sketch,John Howe-Gollum,Donato Giancola-Sam Gamgee(sketch), Alan Lee-The Taming os Smeagol, Donato Giancola-The Taming of Smeagol,Darell Sweet-Taming of Smeagol.

    • LadyViridis says:

      Wow. I… I didn't think there was worse character art than Ted Nasmith, but… that last one just might do it. o_o Why are the hobbits tiny old men!?

      At least it's made up for by Donato Giancola's version. Wow. That's some impressive old masters-style awesome right there.

      • ZeynepD says:

        It's Darrell K. Sweet, may he rest in peace. He's … not known for drawing characters well. Or rather, he's known for not drawing characters well.

        (If you ever have half an hour to kill and want some easy entertainment, go over the covers of the Wheel of Time series. For extra entertainment, have a Wheel of Time fan commenting on them. Factors of note are the Amazing Mutable Main Character whose face changes every time he appears, people drawn with hobbit proportions when they are not hobbits, monsters with animal heads drawn as humans with animal-shaped helmets, copy-paste horses, characters milking the great invisible cow, one cover that can best be described as "The Passion of Supergirl" when the scene in the book depicted is nothing of the sort, and a strange understanding of how waists and arms, among other movable body parts, work.)

        (And the sad thing is, he was awesome at scenery. The composition of these book covers usually show half of the picture with no humans on the back covers, and are gorgeous and awe-inspiring. In fact, he drew my favourite cover for The Silmarillion, which showed Gur Terng Jnir penfuvat vagb Ahzrabe. With no characters in the scene.)

        Totally agreed about the Giancola picture. Now I want to see the rest of the Lord of the Rings illustrated in that style.

        • LadyViridis says:

          Mm. Whenever I see these illustrations I always kind of wonder how those artists got hired if they were so terrible at characters… but you know, then there's Rob Liefeld who apparently still gets work, so. Clearly there is money to be made in all types of art. It seems nowadays bad cover drawings have largely been replaced by bad photo-manip, and I'm honestly not sure if that's better or worse. Normally I'd say worse, but in light of tiny old men hobbits… I'd have to say better. o_o

          • ddr says:

            I'm pretty sure what happened is he did a REALLY GOOD job on the cover for Eye Of The World and then they gave him a contract for all the rest of the books and he promptly stopped caring even a little.

            Man, those covers are bad.

        • Kiryn says:

          *is a Wheel of Time fan* Lord, he really can't draw people. Like, my favorite cover is for the fifth book, "The Fires of Heaven", because despite the PEOPLE, the city in the background is absolutely GORGEOUS. And, yeah, he does not really stick with one continuous look for the characters, so I'm constantly guessing as to who is actually on the cover. And then there's the Little Woman Cooking on the Oregon Trail one….*headdesk*

      • Alice says:

        My guess is that he took the age thing literally,so that's why they look like tiny old men.I know how it feels,my reaction is kindda "uughh" 😀 when I see something like this,but I've said it before:it's the diversity that I enjoy! And yeah,Donato Giancola's version I can see it in a museum besides the great masters and it would not look outta place.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Naq ahzore 6 jnf erperngrq rknpgyl va gur zbivr, jvgu Nyna Yrr gurer gb jngpu. Gung zhfg unir orra n uhtr snaobl zbzrag.

      • flootzavut says:

        V nyjnlf gubhtug vg jnf jbaqreshy gung gurl qvq gung. Nyna Yrr vf fhpu n ybiryl thl, vg jnf fb avpr gb frr uvf jbex orvat erperngrq naq ubabherq yvxr gung! <3

    • stormwreath says:

      Interesting that most artists make Gollum look like a ghoul, but Alan Lee makes him look like a Deep One and Donato Giancola for some reason makes him look like a vampire… (And I'm not sure what they're doing in that picture, but it sure doesn't look like fighting to me… ;))

    • BetB says:

      The Donato Giancola image seems almost erotic.

      It's amazing how all the images of Gollum are so similar. I don't remember the description in the books being detailed enough for everyone to come up with such similar images. Maybe that's just my head canon…

    • flootzavut says:

      I've come past this post several times reading other comments, and the more I see the little old man hobbits the more I wonder what the heck the artist was thinking…

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

  12. cait0716 says:

    I am so excited to get back to Sam and Frodo! All the stuff with the other characters was interesting, but this feels like a return to the main plot of the book, rather than a side quest.

    The little detail that Sam didn't actually tie the rope around Gollum's ankle very tightly at all made me smile. His bark is worse than his bite.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      I always find myself looking at that and wondering how Sam interacted with the Gaffer. Harsh words and gentle handling, perhaps? Because it's a real mismatch, considering that Sam's first thoughts about Gollum are pretty murderous.

  13. Suzannezibar says:


    Bxnl, fgbel gvzr…

    V svefg ernq gurfr obbxf jura V jnf gjryir. V unq tbggra guebhtu gur svefg unys ng n snveyl nirentr cnpr. Gura V pnzr qbja jvgu gur syh. Naq zl zbz pbhyqa'g gnxr bss jbex, ohg gubhtug V jnf gbb fvpx gb fgnl ubzr nybar, fb fur qebccrq zr bss jvgu arvtuobef. Jub unq ab gryrivfvba. Naq gur bayl obbx V'q oebhtug jvgu zr jnf GGG. Naq V jnf gbb fvpx gb fyrrc, FB gur bayl guvat V qvq nyy qnl jnf ernq "obbx sbhe" bs YBGE. Jvgu n 100-qrterr srire. ZBFG QRCERFFVAT PBZOVANGVBA, L'NYY. V QB ABG ERPBZZRAQ VG.

    Fb, gjryir-lrne-byq Fhm'f gubhtug cebprff: "Guvf vf fb obevat, V'z ernyyl fvpx bu jbj guvf vf ernyyl *qrcerffvat*, Sebqb fgbc orvat n ohggurnq, bu uv Snenzve! :Q jnvg abj ur'f tbar naq guvf vf ernyyl qrcerffvat ntnva naq jul qvqa'g V oevat nabgure obbx jvgu zr julllllllll."

    Vg gbbx zr lrrrrrrnnnnnnnef orsber V pbhyq npghnyyl ernq guvf unys ntnva. Fb, grpuavpnyyl, V'ir bayl ernq vg gjvpr! Naq V fgvyy qb pynffvsl vg nf zl yrnfg snibevgr cneg bs gur gevybtl, ohg tvira gur nobir vasbezngvba, V'z ernyyl abg fher ubj snve gung vf :C

    • ARITHMANCER says:

      Hehe! Sorry about your first TTT experience…

      Reminds me of high school. I was hospitalized for a month with appendicitis and complications, running a high fever through most of it, and trying to get some of my homework done so I would not be a full 4 weeks in the hole when I finally got back. My "favorite" memory was reading "The Heart of Darkness" while running a fever of 102 and trying to ignore my roommate watching a sitcom on TV. "The horror" indeed.

  14. stormwreath says:

    Remember that Gollum first appeared in The Hobbit, which was itself based on the bedtime stories Tolkien made up for his children. So I would guess that Gollum's speech is based on Tolkien trying to put on the silliest, most over-the-top sinister and evil voice he could to make his children either giggle or cower under the covers. 🙂

    • LadyViridis says:

      It reminds me a bit of how the servant/Igor talks in most movies featuring a mad scientist. TVTropes claims this portrayal was established in the 1931 Frankenstein movie, so it's possible Tolkien saw it and added it in, but I'm not sure how likely I think that is. Tolkien didn't seem to like most technology, so I'm having a hard time picturing him going off to the theater to see a monster movie.

      Hm. Although it also says the movie stole the idea from a Frankenstein-adapted play that started off in the 1830's, so maybe Tolkien saw that? Either way, I could perhaps see a little influence but it's hard to pin anything down exactly.

      • flootzavut says:

        Hah, you're now reminding me of (Discworld spoilers) gur jnl gur Vtbef gnyx va Greel Cengpurgg'f obbxf – gurl unir yvgucf gung ner onfvpnyyl na npprag, bu lbh unir gb ernq vg ernyyl gb haqrefgnaq ubj shaal vg vf…

  15. stellaaaaakris says:

    've shared this video approximately a thousand times on these websites and I do not care. This is Team Starkid's interpretation of this chapter with Lauren Lopez as FRODO. It can be rather difficult to hear, especially since the guy holding the camera (pretty sure it's Darren) keeps laughing. I always feel like I need context with Starkid stuff, but it's still a fun interpretation.

    I don't think it's spoilery, but let me know if it is and I'll take it down.
    [youtube par_CijDWIc&feature=plcp&context=C328c9a7UDOEgsToPDskJWiDZvM3B-TIBek9b5SWz7 youtube]

  16. Jenny_M says:

    Lrnu, Tbyyhz fubhyqa'g or fcbvyrq! Vg'f fbeg bs yvxr n Frna Orna guvat, evtug? Jr pna nyy znxr n cnpg?

  17. Clamarnicale says:

    Why Gollum speaks the way he does? I always thought it had to do with the fact that he was crawling around inside dark caves for hundreds of years, speaking only to himself and his "precious". That's bound to degenerate anyones speech, in my opinion.

  18. flootzavut says:

    "Frodo is kind of a badass with Sting."

    Absolutely <3

    "So they’re like evil ball pits and you just slide into them and get eaten or something. Right?"

    Oh, the mental images.


    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos" />

    And apropos of nothing much: I was trying to find the AMAZING B and W photo of Elijah Woods from the DVD and stumbled across this:

    <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos" />

    Baby Elijah! How cute!?!?!

    • castlewayjay says:

      Love both these photos!

    • Jenny_M says:

      Mr. Woods, Mr. Woods! Do you wear wigs?

      • Ashley says:

        Will you wear wigs? When will you wear wigs?

        • Jenny_M says:

          *insert Elijah Wood laugh here*

          • AmandaNekesa says:

            I sooo want to put a gif of Elijah's laughing during the interview, but, alas, there is a poster of RotK in the background, and I think it *could* be considered spoilery, maybe?

            I love it when he just breaks out laughing, and then later just goes with it and starts answering questions. 😀

      • notemily says:


        • Jenny_M says:

          HOW COULD IT NOT? Oh God, I watched it this weekend and was laughing so hard I started crying. IT NEVER GETS OLD.

          • flootzavut says:

            I feel like I've missed something totally obvious… *unsure*

            • Jenny_M says:

              Only the greatest Easter Egg in the history of Easter Eggs.

              No spoilers, I don't think, and Mark will undoubtedly also enjoy this when he gets done with the movies. Your post made me think of it because you called him Elijah Woods instead of Elijah Wood and Dom uses the phrase "Mr. Woods, Mr. Woods!" constantly in this.

              • atheistsisters says:

                Oh my goodness, I have never seen that before. I 100% for real spat my water out at one point, paused it, and fell on the floor trying to call my sister to come watch it. I wish Dom was my best friend or something. Wow.

                • Jenny_M says:

                  IS IT NOT THE GREATEST THING EVER?!?! "He died in a car accident."

                  • AmandaNekesa says:

                    Hahaha, love that!

                    Dom: You have very big, blue eyes. Do you think this is the reason why you are successful and famous?
                    Elijah: Um…
                    Dom: Big. Blue.
                    Elijah: yes. *laughs*

                    Dom: do you kick balls?
                    Elijah: *stares at camera*…*busts out laughing*

                    Dom: Will you wear wigs?
                    Elijah: maybe

                    The fact that Elijah kind of goes with it halfway through makes it so hilarious. 😀

                    • notemily says:

                      You can see Elijah struggling with being respectful to this "interviewer" and yet wondering if someone's taking the piss out of him. <3

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      Yeah, up until about halfway through, he at least tries to answer the questions, though struggling not to laugh out loud. After the first time he busts out laughing, he still goes with it but the look on his face is just precious because he knows something is going on but he's not sure what or who is doing it. I love the part early on when Elijah gets all wide-eyed with his mouth open, like, "what the &#$% is going on here, is this really happening?"

                    • flootzavut says:

                      lol yeah… and when Elijah gets wide eyed… it's rreeeeeeeeeeeeeeeally wide! he has such an expressive face it makes everything even funnier <3 bless!

                      <img src="; border="0" alt="Photobucket Pictures, Images and Photos" />

                      … I'm so glad I typo'd Elijah's name up there 😀

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      Is it weird that I can't stop staring at his eyes…? They're just…staring back at me 😀

                      I love how much Billy, Dom, and Sean joke about Elijah's eyes! <3

                    • flootzavut says:

                      Yes, it's actually really sweet, how hard he tries to be respectful and answer questions even though he is CLEARLY thinking "WTF?"

              • flootzavut says:

                😮 I have three VITAL questions of VITAL importance:

                Where do I find this on my DVDs?
                Where do I find previous Easter Eggs?

                (And I suppose, a 4th one – how come it NEVER occurred to me to look for Easter Eggs on any of my NINE LOTR discs… I mean… Whhhhhhhyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyyy??!)

                Also: Dom is awesome (not that this is news to anyone) and THANK YOU 😀

                • AmandaNekesa says:

                  YOU'VE NEVER SEEN THIS BEFORE???

                  "I…have bee searching for him, all my life. He has incredible blue eyes…"

                  Dom: I don't know if anyone can hate you, Mr. Woods, with- with your eyes, and- and your American voice
                  Elijah: Th-thank you.

                  Oh, Dom, ILU! <3 <3 <3

                  I LOVE IT when Elijah straight-out starts laughing at the questions. 😀

                  Also, I think there are some things that could potentially be viewed as spoilery, specifically the RotK posters in the background, and Elijah talking about the end of Frodo's journey.

                  • flootzavut says:

                    I KNOW!


                    (OK ALL LAST 8-9 YEARS OF MY LIFE BUT YOU GET MY POINT!)

                    Elijah is a good sport 😀 his reactions are priceless. He always comes off as a really sweet guy. I remember seeing him on Graeme Norton (Graham Norton? It just looks wrong both ways… :o) and they'd pulled up some doctored pictures of him and Sean Astin, as hobbits, gettin' it on, in hopes of embarrassing him, and it totally threw GN when Elijah MENTIONED them and asked him to look them up. I think they assumed they were going to completely leave him dying of embarrassment, and he brought them up… it was most amusing!

                    Man, Dom is hilarious 😀

                    ROT13 'cause I'm too tired to work out if this is spoilery:

                    V guvax Qbz vf terng nf Zreel, ohg ur'f npghnyyl bar bs gur pnfg jub V yvxr zber (naq, rez, svaq zber snavpnoyr YBY) jura ur'f whfg orvat Qbz, abg orvat Zreel. (V nyzbfg fnvq, bhg bs pbfghzr, ohg gung whfg fbhaqrq fb jebat… :b) V guvax cebonoyl orpnhfr va erny yvsr, Qbz vf n ybg zber yvxr Cvccva!

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      Yeah, Elijah is such a good sport with this interview, and he just seems like a really nice, fun guy to be around.

                      I agree with your rot13. Zreel vf n terng punenpgre naq rirelguvat, gung'f sbe fher, ohg V ernyyl yvxr Qbz whfg orvat uvzfrys gur zbfg. I enjoy watching his interviews, and he seems like a nice, funny guy…he seems like a very real type of guy, as well. Gur uboovg npgbef nyy pyrneyl terj irel pybfr, naq V ybir uvf qrsrafr bs gung sevraqfuvc, jura crbcyr nfx gurz nobhg jul/ubj gurl'er fb pybfr. Ur fgenvtug-bhg ybirf uvf sevraqf, naq vfa'g nsenvq gb fubj vg, naq vg'f gur fbeg bs crefcrpgvir gung V guvax arrqf gb fcernq zber va gur jbeyq. (not sure if the EE extras info like this would be considered spoilers)

                      "out of costume" hahaha 😀

                    • flootzavut says:

                      V nyy bhg NQBER ubj pybfr gurl ner… vg'f nqbenoyr <3

                      V'z tynq lbh trg jung V zrna jvgu Qbz. V guvax Zreel vf whfg n ovg, lbh xabj, frafvoyr naq fghss – jurernf vg frrzf yvxr, shaal naq dhvexl nf Ovyyl vf, Qbz vf Cvccva gb Ovyyl'f Zreel… Ovyyl frrzf dhvgr Cvccva-vfu jvguuvf frafr bs uhzbhe, ohg Qbz vf whfg gung zhpu zber fvyyl naq shaal guna rira Ovyyl/Cvccva vf YBY.

                      Gung vagreivrj vf whfg fbbbbbbbbbbbb jbaqreshy! YBY V guvax jung ernyyl fgehpx zr nobhg Ryvwnu vf, rira gubhtu gur dhrfgvbaf ner trggvat FB FGENATR naq FB CREFBANY, naq ner znxvat uvz ynhtu gurl ner fb bqq, ur fgvyy gevrf gb or cbyvgr naq nafjre gurz, rira nf lbh pna FRR uvz guvaxvat "Jnug? JUNG??"

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      Exactly! 🙂

                    • flootzavut says:

                      ps yeah I know, out of costume, OOPS! :$ 😀

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      definitely made me laugh there 😀

                    • flootzavut says:

                      Especially given I had accidentally* stumbled upon a pic of Dom, ahem, NOT in costume… LOL 😮 erm, nice butt, let's not go there 😮 LOL

                      * Truly, honestly an accident, believe it or not! What can I say, I am just lucky…?!

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      Apparently…hahaha! 🙂

                    • Jenny_M says:

                      I'm assuming you've seen the Orlando Bloom interview on GN. "EAT SHIT, JESSICA. IT'S CARROT!!!"

                    • monkeybutter says:


                      sex on the beach, whateverrrrrrrrr…and then you WOKE UP!

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      What?? I'm not sure if I've seen this video before – do you have a link to it?

                    • monkeybutter says:

                      [youtube LvUcd9Hzgjo youtube]

                    • flootzavut says:

                      LMAO! I saw that at the time but I'd totally forgotten about it – fantastic!

                    • AmandaNekesa says:

                      Bwahahaha…oh man, those fans are dedicated.

                    • flootzavut says:

                      My favourite GN/LOTR crossover was (is this spoilery?! ROT13 just in case) jura gurl unq Ryvwnu Jbbq ba naq ur fgnegrq gnyxvat nobhg gur (senaxyl ornhgvshyyl qbar) cvpgherf bs uboovgf trggvat vg ba ba gur vagreghorf. Gurl unq boivbhfyl genjyrq vg hc nf "guvat zbfg yvxryl gb rzoneenff Ryvwnu" naq gura UR oebhtug vg hc naq TA'f ernpgvba jnf jbaqreshy, V'ir arire frra uvz fb abacyhffrq 😀

                      Also if memory serves, that ep had John Malkovich and leg wrestling. Now that's entertainment.

                • Jenny_M says:


                  • flootzavut says:


                • notemily says:

                  1. Go to "Select a Scene" on Disc 1 of your ROTK Extended Edition. Select scene 36. Press the down button on your remote. You will see the Ring appear. Press the enter button on your remote.
                  2. Every Extended Edition movie disc has an Easter Egg except Disc 2 of The Two Towers. You know you've found them when you see the Ring or another unexpected graphic pop up. There are instructions on how to find them here. My favorite (besides this interview) is the one on Disc 1 of The Two Towers.

                  • flootzavut says:

                    YOU ROCK ALSO!

                    and seriously, first time I have EVER been told I did not spend enough time on the intertubes, which frankly, has totally made my day 😀

    • devilscrayon says:

      Is that Macaulay Culkin with him??

      • Rheinman says:

        Yes, as Golumn, apparently. Who knew?

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        It was a movie called The Good Son, in which Wood discovers his cousin Culkin is pure evil and struggles to convince his aunt of it. Pretty crappy movie, that destroyed Culkin's career.

        • threerings13 says:

          I always feel BAD for Macauley Culkin. My ex-boyfriend's brother went to high school with him and I've heard a few interesting stories. But as is typical with child stars, they tend to be rather sad figures.

        • notemily says:

          I don't know if THAT movie destroyed his career–I think it was more the Child Actor thing where you become known as a kid actor and have trouble moving on to more adult roles once you hit puberty. His brother is doing okay for himself though.

          • flootzavut says:

            I think also some people have more luck than others growing into their looks – or not. If you're constantly compared to how cute you were when you were a kid… :-/

            • sixth_queen says:

              Agree. The cuteness of many child actor boys doesn't often survive puberty: Jerry mathers (beaver cleaver) is nothing to look at. Culkin turned out average, Aaron Carter didn't turn out, and it's not looking good for The Bieber. Elijah — well — depends on the beholder. So far, I would say that the ONLY Tiger Beat cutie boy who has grown up to be inarguably good looking is Daniel Radcliffe. He will look spectacular when he's 40.

              • ladysugarquill says:

                Of course, they could still be good actors and have a career without being "cute", or they could keep working on something else like Ron Howards did.

        • ladysugarquill says:

          I always thought it was an amazing movie that proved Culkin could do great characters other than "the cute kid of Home Alone". Everybody I taked to thinks this is when they saw it as a real good actor.

    • JustMalyn says:


  19. settledforhistory says:

    SAM!!!! Let me hug you, you adorable perfect person!
    Finally we have Sam back, this is wonderful and awesome. I was afraid that I would have to wait for the next book to see my favorite Hobbit again.
    Not that I want to disregard Frodo, because he is great and important, too. Still, SAM!

    Anyway, I feel really bad for these two Hobbits, walking around a seemingly endless mountain labyrinth that has them walk in circles and that has no path leading down. Also, can you imagine getting tiered of eating the best food possible? Man they really have a rough time. (There is not even grass!)
    So now they have to climb down and Sam is a total hero for simply trying it out without a rope or safety net. (I'm terrible scared of heights, so this is incredibly brave in my eyes.)
    The way he treats the rope as something almost sacred is so cute and he even has a family history of people making ropes and knots.
    My guess as to why the rope fell down: Sam was so sad to leave it behind, so it simply came back to him, like a stray dog. which teaches us: Be kind to everything even inanimate objects. You never know when it proves fortunate that you talk nicely to your pen or your toaster.

    Speaking of stray dogs. Now I want to pity Gollum and I do to a point, he mostly just freaks me out though. I could get angry at him for trying to kill Sam, but he is right, Sam attacked him first.
    Still, I'm really scared of what Gollum might do, villains suddenly turning good never has a happy ending.

    Please, I want more Sam (and Frodo). Don't let me wait for them half a book again Tolkien!

    • notemily says:

      I love the image of Sam talking nicely to pens and toasters. "That's a good toaster, now. You always toast the bread evenly on both sides and no mistake."

  20. monkeybutter says:

    Frodo! SAM! Rope! it’s so good to be back to them. <3 Oh, Sam, don't be so hard on yourself. And then Gollum had to come along and be creepy as hell. The stalking, the pleading, the golluming, that's all terrible, but what really unnerved me was the beaten-puppy behavior at the end. It's just…unwholesome. And I couldn't help but think of this thing:

    Oh, and this is only slightly related to anything, but did y’all see Empire’s 25 Sexiest Male Movie characters? [ETA: I just realized that there are spoilers there, so DON’T CLICK THIS LINK] Gollum came in at #10, two spots ahead of Edward Cullen. Sounds about right. And Aragorn got #1. Because, duh.

    Shoulda just filled all 25 spots with his various identities.

    • castlewayjay says:

      Yes – even Gollum is sexier to me than Edward Cullen!

    • Rheinman says:

      Jr qbrfa'g yvxr fcnexyl inzcverf, qb jr abj, Cerpvbhf?

    • knut_knut says:

      *sigh* I loved Stephen Gammell's illustrations. And by loved I mean they made me cry and gave me terrible, terrible nightmares. But they were awesome.

      I agree with your last point. Why did they even bother with the non-Viggo characters?

    • flootzavut says:

      That's brilliant about the Edward Cullen/Gollum thing. Hilarious 😀

      And in other news *thud* not that it is apparently possible to get a BAD shot of the man (especially in this role) but WOW, that's a gooooooooooood piccie of Viggo… <3

      • Ryan Lohner says:

        Well, there's always that scene where we can only see the left side of his face, thanks to him getting a black eye while surfing.

    • flootzavut says:

      (I'm joyed to note that on the poll on that page, 74% of respondents thought Edward Cullen should be LOWER in the poll… whereas only 73% think that Gollum should be lower on the poll 😀

    • Hotaru_hime says:

      Of course Aragorn is #1. He's fucking gorgeous, strong, calm, wielder of Anduril, heir of Isildur, Elendil's son, etc.
      Mad that Edward Cullen is on that list.

    • nanceoir says:

      I'm looking at the full list, and this just makes me laugh: "Indiana Jones. Profession: Incredibly unprofessional archaeologist." LOL!

    • threerings13 says:

      That's actually a really brilliant list. And the Gollum thing is explained by the fact that it was a poll, and it's the internet. 🙂 Apparently women like scruffy guys who don't bathe.

      • monkeybutter says:

        When I first read it, I laughed it off as "oh, internet," but then I spent a couple minutes staring at that Giancalo art in Alice's comment, and I'm just not sure anymore. There might be a legit, earnest Gollum-is-sexy faction.

        • Alice says:

          I wonder what Andy Serkis thought about this 😀 (after I'll read all this enjoyable comments I'll go read that article too)

        • JustMalyn says:

          Oh hell. Rule 34….SWEET SON OF A MOTHERLESS BUMBLEBEE.

          • Alice says:

            I wish that Arwen and Galadriel and Eowyn would have been too in the women's top…And since I posted my earlier comment I can't stop imagining Gollum's acceptance speech :p xD

          • monkeybutter says:

            Oops, my comment just caused a thousand Gbyyhz/Fzrntby fics to spring into existence, didn't it?

    • notemily says:

      Oh my god I love that they say Gollum is sexy because HE RECOGNIZES THE IMPORTANCE OF BIRTHDAYS. I can't

    • Becky_J_ says:

      This is BRILLIANT.

      That art, first of all… I never read those stories as a child, but my roommate just showed them to me the other day and HOLY CRAP HOW DID ANY OF YOU EVER SLEEP EVER. Excuse me while I go rock back and forth, humming to myself, in a corner.

      Second of all…. Of COURSE Aragorn is first. But I also loved this: "Ideal chat up line: 'Are those the Shards of Narsil in your pocket or are you just pleased to see me?'" LOL FOREVER

      • monkeybutter says:

        I loved those books! I lived for anything scary when I was a kid, and the grosser the better, so those illustrations were like candy. And the stories? Where is my toooooooe? So much fun at slumber parties!

        • drekfletch says:

          Yes! Somebody else who knows the Toe story! I don't remember anything about it, except the toe. And that I heard it at the same time as mi-ti-do di-walker.

        • Becky_J_ says:

          Man, my roommate was telling me the story of the toe… it's the only one she really remembers, and it gave me the creeps just listening to a generalized version of it! Also, the illustration of the woman with the spiders in her face kept me up whimpering for like three hours. WORST. FEAR. REALIZED.

    • MidnightLurker says:

      To quote Westley, DEAR GOD WHAT IS THAT THING. o.O;

  21. flootzavut says:

    OH! I knew I recognised that other lad, could NOT figure out why!

  22. castlewayjay says:

    Half a book WAS a long time to wait – but I love the wait Tolkien juggles all his great characters

  23. ea says:

    There are definitely cats in middle-earth. And a crazy cat lady. It’s pretty anecdotal and not at all important to the story, just a bit of gondorian history one of the characters brings up… Her name’s queen beruthiel.

  24. Momzter says:

    Gollum wouldn't untie the rope because it would hurt him. I think we are supposed to trust Sam's intuition on this as being elf magic.

    To me Gollum's odd speech is a combination of years of having nobody to talk to but himself, the ring's influence, his mental and emotional pathology, and the simple fact that he was transforming into a physically different creature.

  25. msw188 says:

    This chapter blew me away when I first read it as a kid, and I wasn't even sure why. But the interaction between Frodo and Gollum is so powerful on so many levels. It really highlights just how far Frodo has come from the hobbit who claimed Gollum was "as bad as an orc" and "deserves death". And the moment when he flat out TELLS Gollum that he KNOWS that Gollum knows where his Precious is?

    To quote Mark, OH MY GOD.

  26. Dreamflower says:

    It’s been so long since we’ve seen Sam and Frodo and Tolkien very promptly reminds us that everything is incredibly fucked up. Look, flat-out, I did not expect this novel to be harrowing at all. I’m at a point where I’m so invested in the characters that Tolkien has created that I am getting irrationally upset and worried by the things that are happening to them. They aren’t real, I keep telling myself. Your worrying is not going to help keep them safe.

    Oh, Mark, join the club! I never re-read this book without still worrying about them, and I already know all the spoilers…

    But…they aren't real?

    Oh, shoot.

    • Wheelrider says:

      "Look, flat-out, I did not expect this novel to be harrowing at all."

      You might want to look into meditation, or at least purchase a large bottle of antacid…

  27. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    FRODO AND SAM! FINALLY! As Book IV opens, the pair have been wandering in the Emyn Muil for three days, looking for a "safe" route down the cliffs, and this is the best they can find. (I'm with Sam: a drop of 18 fathoms is still plenty terrifying.)

    For the fun of it, I've marked the locations of the other major characters as well. As this is happening, the Three Hunters have stopped to rest on a hill in northern Rohan, while Merry and Pippin are at Wellinghall with Treebeard.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      Yay! I was hoping you'd do the parallel positions once they were unspoilery. Makes the timeline a lot clearer.

    • Mauve_Avenger says:

      Maybe my reckoning is off, but it seems to me that Merry and Pippin would still be in orc custody on the plains, or they'd be meeting Treebeard for the first time.

      And I just looked it up: In "Flotsam and Jetsam" Merry and Pippin say that they were probably held captive by the orcs for about three days, as well. Dunno why I thought it was longer.

      This chapter spans about a day, and Treebeard, Merry, and Pippin spent one day getting to/staying at Wellinghall. So this chapter corresponds pretty much exactly to the first third or so of the "Treebeard" chapter, and Merry and Pippin's map is the same as the one for that chapter (minus the little swoop down to Derndingle and Isengard).

      • floppus says:

        Ah, yes, you're right, this chapter does span a day (it begins around sunset the day before, just as Eomer and his men have surrounded the Orcs; Merry and Pippin escape later that night.) I was in a bit of a hurry and missed that somehow.

  28. ZeynepD says:

    Frodo is simply tired. Obviously, he and Sam are physically exhausted, but that’s not surprising. Frodo just wants to end this one way or another. He is sick of carrying the Ring, he’s sick of worrying about what awaits over the next pass, and he’s sick of fretting over the outcome of his trip to Mordor. He just wants to be there, to deal with whatever Sauron has for him, and to be done with it all.

    Say, does this sound familiar at all? Of course it does. Many of us have been there . Many still are. I don't know what rings we were wearing around our necks; the most common one I have seen around me (and the one I myself bore) was graduate school—let's call it "the dissertation," my precioussss… Something that is striking is how often people don't recognize the bone-deep weariness, the "just want it to be over," as what it is: long, drawn-out tiredness. And their performance falters and fails, and they attribute it to themselves being lacking in some way or not trying hard enough when it is really the result of too long a road trodden under too heavy a load without a breather. So they blame themselves and struggle harder and of course that is a feedback loop, right there.

    I may have too many feelings about Quests like that. But here we are: Yet another thematic point in The Lord of the Rings.

    • redheadedgirl says:

      Law school. The bar exam. CONTRIBUTORY NEGLIGENCE OH GOD.

      Well said.

    • msw188 says:

      Haha, does this mean I should rethink my plans to go back to school to begin working towards a PhD?

      • ZeynepD says:

        I don't know that the comment threads here are the place to have a serious discussion about that 🙂 . But speaking as one from the other side, no, this is not a good reason to rethink that. Self-awareness may be hard to gain, but it helps a lot.

        • msw188 says:

          Hm, I'm going for mathematics so I'm not sure how much "self-awareness" I'll get out of it, but I'm only joking around anyways. Oh, unless you're saying that ALL grad school programs lead to self-awareness because they all make you realize just how tired you are. Haha, we'll see, yes we will, my precious.

        • I don't know that the comment threads here are the place to have a serious discussion about that

          No no, you want PhD Comics for serious grad school discussion. 😉

    • I hadn't seen the comparison, but this comment is beautiful. Brought a tear to my eye – my Ring is rather heavy just now

  29. castlewayjay says:

    right on – at least that's how I see it too

  30. fantasy_fan says:

    I’m at a point where I’m so invested in the characters that Tolkien has created that I am getting irrationally upset and worried by the things that are happening to them. They aren’t real, I keep telling myself. Your worrying is not going to help keep them safe.

    And thus the genius of Tolkien, who generated hoards of fans who will endlessly argue interpretation and debate trivia and write fanfic, in part because of his spectacular characterizations. More than the descriptive scenery or the worldbuilding, I care about the characters. I'd cry at their fictional funerals (and weddings) were he to write them. (This is hypothetical, not a spoiler for anything.) These guys are more real to me than somebody like the president of the united states.

    • Dreamflower says:


      And it's not just the major characters he makes real, but all those little side characters who are also given a personality, like the hobbits in the Green Dragon or Barliman Butterbur or Vbergu be Unyonenq.

      Naq bs pbhefr vg nyfb nppbhagf sbe gur znffvir nzbhagf bs snasvpgvba gung jr ybir, naq juvpu jr trarengr va pbcvbhf nzbhagf fb gung jr pna frr gur jrqqvatf naq sharenyf naq oveguf bs puvyqera gung WEEG arire tbg nebhaq gb fubjvat hf.

      Orpnhfr jr pna'g yrg tb bs gurz. Orpnhfr jr ybir gurz.

      Naq orpnhfr GURER VF ARIRE RABHTU PNABA!!!!

    • castlewayjay says:

      Exactly! – both to your post and Dreamflower's response.

  31. There are cats and mice in Middle-earth???
    There are always cats. Cats are everywhere. Lance survived the annihilation of Caprica. Buttercup survived the destruction of District 12. Jonesy made it off the Nostromo. Evolution really likes cats.

  32. Sooo… can I just ramble about how much I love Frodo? I can? Oh, good.

    Right about here is where you really begin to see just what a toll the quest has taken on him- and he's not even into Mordor yet! Yet already he's starting to lower his expectations of what will come and what he has to do, as shown by the line "Mordor! If I must go there, I wish I could come there quickly, and make an end." It's not exactly a hopeful thing to say, and a few lines later he's referring to the journey to the mountain as his 'doom.' And he says openly that he doesn't know what to do now. Nor does he have any clear idea of how they can get to where they need to go. He's tired. And he's lost in a barren place with Mordor ahead of him and orcs behind him.

    Yet when Gollum finally appears, this is where we get to see just how much Frodo's grown. The journey hasn't just exhausted him, it's also lent him an incredible strength. This part:
    "On the Precious? How dare you! Think!
    One Ring to rule them all and in the darkness bind them"
    Would you commit your promise to that, Smeagol? It will hold you. But it is more treacherous than you are. It may twist your words. Beware!"
    is one of my favorites. Here we get to see Frodo as he's grown. He's already known suffering, exhaustion, betrayal, and he's steadily losing his hope. But that doesn't come without giving him the kind of strength that you'd normally associate with Aragorn or Gandalf here. Yet his strength and his courage are all his own. He's a hobbit first and foremost, and as Bilbo did before, he can feel pity, and with more understanding, because he has a much greater understanding of the thing that warped Gollum. His pity and his mercy are to me, even greater, because he's burdened with the full knowledge of what the Ring does to those who bear it and for that reason can empathize more deeply with what Gollum is enduring. I think this is why he's so gentle to Gollum. Sam can't figure it out, and truth be told, I couldn't either when I first read this. But I think it speaks volumes about Frodo and just how strong he is as a person and as a hero; his weakness and burdens do a great deal to lend him strength. And yes, for my money, Frodo is a hero.

  33. stormwreath says:

    Just for reference:

    18 fathoms is 108 feet, or 33 metres. That's about an 11-storey building.

    An ell is 45 inches – the length of a man's forearm. 30 ells is 112.5 feet or 34 metres.

    • stormwreath says:

      Edit – twice a man's forearm, unless you have REALLY long arms. 🙂

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      I know about ells purely from a line in The Comedy of Errors about the obese kitchen maid, Nell.

      "Her name and three quarters, that's an ell and three quarters, wouldn't measure her from hip to hip!"

  34. Hotaru_hime says:

    There must be cats in Middle Earth. I choose to believe it and therefore it is true.
    You've been asking about Sam and Frodo and here they are! Desperately trying to get to Mordor and having no idea how! Except now they've got sneaky Gollum… will he be more help than harm? (DUN DUN DUNNNN!)
    I think the elf rope came untied by itself. "Elf magic" although elves don't know what is meant by magic.
    As for Gollum's speaking pattern, I think he's been by himself so long that the only thing he talks to is the Ring. So he knows how to talk to other people, but he can't help but talk to "the Precious."

  35. Fiona says:

    Nyy V pna guvax bs abj qhevat guvf frpgvba bs gur svyz vf yrrrrzzzzzzzzzoooooooonnnnnnnnnnnfffffffffff. Qnza lbh Frna naq Ryvwnu :).

    On the serious side I like how it's clear from the start what a complex character Gollum/Smeagol is. You can sympathise with him as so much of his troubles were caused by the ring but you still can't entirely trust him or understand his motivations. V guvax Naql'f cresbeznapr va gur svyzf vf cerggl zhpu cresrpg naq V nyjnlf nccerpvngr ubj zhpu gvzr rirelbar gbbx gb trg uvz evtug. Ur'f fhpu na vpbavp punenpgre naq lrg frrzf fb uneq gb qb cebcreyl fb vg'f n grfgnzrag gb rirelbar'f novyvgvrf gung ur jnf fhpu n fhpprff. V pna'g jnvg hagvy Znex trgf gb frr uvz cebcreyl va gur svyzf.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Gurer'f gung terng fgbel va gur fcrpvny srngherf nobhg ubj Frexvf pbhyqa'g qb gur Tbyyhz ibvpr jvgubhg tvivat n shyy snpvny cresbeznapr, juvpu tbg Wnpxfba gb ernyvmr gung gurl arrqrq uvz ba pnzren gb fubj gur navzngbef jung gb qb.

      • Fiona says:

        V ybir nyy gung xvaq bs fghss. Yvxr gur 'Tbyyhz whvpr' juvpu ur qenax gb gel naq fgbc uvf ibvpr sebz tbvat pbzcyrgryl nsgre ur'q orra qbvat vg sbe n juvyr. Ur chg fb zhpu vagb uvf cresbeznapr gung vg'f nznmvat, rfcrpvnyyl nf ur'f orpbzr xvaq bs na rkcreg ba zbgvba pncgher naq pbzovavat vg jvgu qvssrerag grpuavdhrf fvapr gura nf jryy nf nqibpngvat sbe gur vzcbegnapr bs npgbef cynlvat gubfr ebyrf. Nuu, V pbhyq snatvey nobhg uvz nyy qnl V guvax :).

    • castlewayjay says:

      orsber gur svyzf V jbhyq arire unir gubhtug nalbar pbhyq oevat guvf pbzcyrk punenpgre bs Tbyyhz gb yvsr. Ohg Crgre Wnpxfba naq Naql Frexvf zber guna qvq Gbyxvra whfgvpr urer. terng terng wbo gurl qvq.

  36. flootzavut says:

    V fhfcrpg Fnz nterrf jvgu gur fghcvq, ur'f abar gbb xvaq gb uvzfrys…

  37. arctic_hare says:

    Yay, we get to check in with Frodo and Sam! I remember when I first read this as a kid, I was overeager to get here and kinda rushed through the first half of TTT. Now I enjoy everything. I'm still happy to see Frodo and Sam, though. The Emyn Muil sounds absolutely terrible, I'd hate to be lost in a place like that. And I definitely sympathize with Sam's dislike of looking down from high up, that is terrifying to me, though not as much as climbing down is. We hates heights, precious.

    I love Gollum as a villainous figure, but I would never ever trust him. That said, I love that Frodo pities him and chooses to let him live. <3 He learned from what Gandalf said.

  38. @evatweets says:

    SAM, oh Samwise Gamgee, how so wonderful? When I read the book (it was one of those huge all-in-one LotR paperbacks) for the first time, he was my amongst my favorites (him, Merry and Snenzve*), and his parts of the story are so full of AMAZINGNESS (also: angst), I can't wait for you to read them!

    * rot13'd, just in case

  39. MsSméagol says:

    I just LOVE the thing that so many people have already brought up here: gung Tbyyhz vf guvf pbzcyrgryl fxrgpul naq perrcl punenpgre naq gung Fnz naq Sebqb unir nofbyhgryl ab ernfba gb gehfg uvz naq LRG GURL UNIR GBB orpnhfr ur'f yvgrenyyl gurve bayl punapr bs trggvat gb Zbeqbe ng guvf cbvag. Naq gurfr fprarf jvgu gur guerr bs gurz (Fnz, Sebqb naq Tbyyhz) va gur zbivr ner whfg synjyrff. Bhgfgnaqvat jbex sebz nyy guerr npgbef. <3<3<3

  40. flootzavut says:

    I think the first thing I ever saw him in was LOTR, not sure I've seen him act any younger.

    • Allyndra says:

      He was also on screen for a few seconds in Back to the Future II as one of the kids playing video games. "You mean you use your hands?! It's like a baby's toy!"

    • notemily says:

      I first crushed on him when I saw him on Huck Finn, which was randomly on TV when I was looking for something to watch. (Which, ha, also has Robbie Coltrane in it. When Fandoms Collide!) And then of course there was North, a ridiculous movie about a kid who goes on a search for new parents. Roger Ebert gave it a famously horrible review.

  41. PewPewPew says:

    Okay, before we fully transition to the SamFrodoGollum plotline, I just want to bring this up:

    [Bella's heart beats in her chest rapidly as she raises her eyes to see Edward sitting closer, at a table by himself. Like the great wizard Gandalf, he beckons Bella to his table with a bony finger, as if to say, "Come hither, maiden, so I may lay softly at your bosom."]

    LOL FOREVER, MARK. I LOL UNTIL LOLTERNITY. What slander is this against the great wizard Gandalf?

  42. Chris says:

    The Good Son! Sooooooooooooooo adorable.

  43. Noybusiness says:

    Kreacher reminded me of Gollum.

  44. GamgeeFest says:

    Yay! This is my favorite part of LOTR, everything involving Frodo and Sam and Mordor, so I'm so excited I caught up in time for you to start reading this part. I think I hated Book 3 so much because 1) not enough hobbits and 2) WTF IS GOING ON WITH FRODO AND SAM ALREADY?!?! GAHHHHH!!!! I really considered skipping Book 3 entirely the first time I read the books. I still don't know how I managed to restrain myself.

    The rope – I too always assumed Sam had the right of it – the rope came when it was needed. I don't think Gollum cares all that much about helping them at this point.

    Frodo not being able to see – most likely (and this is speculation here) he hit the back of his head while sliding down the cliff and it temporarily blinded him. That's been known to happen with those sorts of injuries. Whether this was amplified by the darkness or not is up for debate, and it could, really, go either way.

    Smeagol/Gollum – It's quite an interesting character dynamic and I never get tired of it.

  45. LarrikJ says:

    Is anyone else worried that Mark hasn't really posted in any of these threads for the past few posts?

    Rfcrpvnyyl pbafvqrevat gung gur enpvfz va gur obbx vf nobhg gb trg n ybg yrff fhogyr.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      He's traveling. And probably dodging even the mildest of spoilers — I know I would be in his shoes!

  46. monkeybutter says:

    This scene made me fall in love with this show.

    thank you

  47. JustMalyn says:

    I can finally say this without it being a spoiler: They run off together and there's a Ring involved 🙂 Perhaps I'm reading too much into it, but you have to admit: They'd be an incredibly cute couple 🙂

  48. Icarus says:

    I love how Tolkien uses the weather to tie different parts of the story together. Here, the storm that hits Frodo and Sam is the same one that eventually hits Helm's Deep. And later Naq yngre jr frr gur fnzr ng gur pebffebnqf, jura gurl frr gur fnzr fhafrg gung Cvccva qbrf va Zvanf Gvevgu.

    So that means that Frodo and Sam have been stymied in the Emyn Muil for nearly a week.

    As for Gollum's speaking pattern, hmm.Tolkien has a very famous essay called On Fairy Stories, where he explains their importance to the literary mind. I think he may have pulled Gollum's manner of speaking from fairy tales, characters such as Rumpelstilskin. The way we learned Rumpelstilskin's name is from him mumbling to himself in the third person.

    • bugeye says:

      Yes. As with the societies of Middle Earth, Tolkien also uses the moon as the constant and consistent point of time. The problem is that reading one chapter a day we forget when the moon was waxing in the Aragorn story line so we can't run the timelines in our heads in the Frodo line. That is why we have appendices, OH, and map makers.

  49. ldwy says:

    Mark. I also think Gollum untied it, but I think he untied it with the hope that they were still on it! So he could come down to their tiny broken hobbit bodies and steal the precious. 🙁

  50. ADB says:

    I agree too.

    I recall jura V svefg fnj Tbyyhz va GG, nsgre jnvgvat gb frr uvz sbe n lrne, orvat qvfnccbvagrq ng svefg. V jnf yvxr "Ur'f gbb uhznabvq. Jurer'f zl [Enaxva-Onff] Sebt Zbafgre?" Va svir zvahgrf, zl ghar punatrq gb "Jnvg n zvahgr, V gubhtug ur jnf nyy PT? Gubfr rlrf ner pbzchgrel, ohg gung'f tbggn or n chccrg be znxrhc be fbzrguvat…" naq gura gb "UBYL FUVG BA N FUVATYR UR'F PTV OHG UR YBBXF ERNY!"

    • ADB says:

      P.S. "naq ur pna NPG!!"

      • flootzavut says:

        LRF! Gur tbbq guvat vf, rira vs fbzrbar cvpfcbvyrerq Znex, gurer'f ab jnl ur jvyy or cercnerq sbe ubj ERNY Tbyyhz vf. V ubcr ur'yy pbzr gb vg hafcbvryrq, ohg vs ur nibvqf npghny ivqrbf, ur'f fgvyy tbaan fuvg n oevpx!

  51. monkeybutter says:

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

  52. bugeye says:

    Late post and silly, but now we can post in Gollum speak. It has been very very hard to not "my Precious" things or add a lot of ss and ess. We needs it my precious, we needs it! We wants it!

  53. fantasy_fan says:

    Mark, you are the hobbits. Both of them.

    it really does seem as if getting Gollum to swear by the Ring (not on it, as Frodo isn’t a fool) actually calms him down. It’s a whole behavioral change on Gollum’s part, and there’s nothing in the text to suggest that it’s not genuine.

    You are Frodo. He is counting on this.

    Still, I don’t know if I necessarily trust Gollum yet.

    You are Sam. He's not counting on anything.

  54. flootzavut says:

    Oh soooo true – I remember seeing Titanic and was sooooo disturbed when some folks laughed at people falling into the sea and, you know, DYING…?!!?!?!??

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Ugh. Yeah, I tend to be a sort of obsessive movie watcher, in the way that, well, I hate being interrupted if I'm watching a movie (especially if I'm seeing it for the first time). So when I'm watching a movie in the theater and people in the audience are making random comments or laughing during serious moments, I have to admit it does sometimes makes me a bit peeved, especially if it's a movie I've been waiting a long time to see.

      When I went to see Deathly Hallows Part 1, that was actually my first HP movie I'd seen in the theater, and the first midnight showing I'd ever gone to. While it was neat to have that midnight showing experience, I was conflicted when I left, unsure if my disappointment was with the movie, or with the audience and their out of place reactions.

  55. Mark, I’m hugely enjoying following you on your journey with The Lord of the Rings! It calls up memories of my own first reading way back in my teens, when dinosaurs still roamed the Earth.

    A few years ago I came across an interesting snippet in a book from the 1930s that belonged to my late father-in-law. It’s full of stirring stories of the British Empire, all Adventure and Courage and suchlike. Here’s something that made me wonder if JRRT might have read stories like this (and perhaps even this particular story) to his sons. A boy who is fleeing from his enemies escapes into a tunnel. He follows it for a long time, then finds himself in a cave full of treasure. A strange creature comes towards him:

    “Like some spectral thing he came from the shadows… I looked into that lined and wizened face…. matted white eyebrows almost concealed a pair of old eyes that blinked strangely at me….

    “I bethought me of my two knives, for he was looking askance at them….

    “The newcomer was so old… he looked as though he had lived for hundreds of years, someone condemned to exist forever as penance for an act of blasphemy….

    “He spoke as though always he had been accustomed to living with shadows, and the words he had uttered had been addressed to himself rather than to me. I was afterwards to learn that years of loneliness had made him confide things to himself in this manner.”

    While I’m on the subject, another story in this volume makes me think of Merry and Pippin among the orcs:

    A boy named Terry has been hit on the head and captured by a gang of ruffians.

    “Terry’s head felt as though it had been split from top to bottom. He opened his eyes, and immediately felt sick…. Everything whirled before his eyes, and he closed them….

    “A hand was laid roughly on his jaw. ‘Here, drink this. It’ll do you good….’

    “Terry’s teeth were forced apart. He had neither the strength nor the will to resist the man, who thrust a cup against his lips….

    “Now he began to feel better. What it was they gave him he did not know, but his heart beats strengthened and steadied, and the nausea began to pass. It left him at last. His head did not ache so much. The powerful stimulant had got rapidly to work.”

    Now to see what you make of the next chapter!

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