Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 4

In the fourth chapter of the second book of The Two Towers, Sam Gamgee becomes my favorite literary character of all time, and Tolkien gets really serious about war. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


He set his two large flat hands on his shrunken belly, and a pale green light came into his eyes.

Well, that’s just the strangest way to demonstrate you’re hungry, isn’t it?

I hoped that this chapter would address the issue of hunger because Sam and Gollum’s constant reminder of it was starting to make me hungry. I’m satisfied that Tolkien’s bringing this up, though, because it’s another thing to show us that this journey these characters are on is complicated for a number of reasons. As Gollum takes them up into the mountains, the threat of the Eye looming nearby, Sam and Frodo are largely silent during their hike, the first of four that Gollum hopes to cover during nightfall. I think the fact that they travel during nighttime just makes this all so eerie. It’s definitely a better choice, since it makes it easier for them to stay in hiding than traveling during the day. At the same time, traveling into the land of the Enemy shows us that not everything is barren and destroyed. There are actually pine trees! The Dark Lord hasn’t quite destroyed everything, so I can see how uplifting this must be for them.

It’s interesting to me that the characters can see the history of the place as they walk, that the work done by Men many years ago still holds. Yet everything is injured or scarred by the Dark Lord and his minions and warriors. The remnants of peace and prosperity seem to loom everywhere, but they’re largely hidden by the effects of war. That’s such a depressing thing to me. Sauron doesn’t care about history or beauty. He is a man concerned with power, and everything else is just a victim of that.

It’s still nice that there’s life left out in the areas the Dark Lord hasn’t touched, even if that very life seems to make Gollum sick. Dude, just appreciate the streams and the sweet smells because it’s better than the slime and muck of the Marsh. Though I suppose he would like that smell more, being who he is. At least there’s some sort of respite here, a lake from which they can drink and bathe. Yet they can’t even go that far before being reminded of where they are:

They had not come very far from the road, and yet even in so short a space they had seen scars of the old wars, and the newer wounds made by the Orcs and other foul servants of the Dark Lord: a pit of uncovered filth and refuse; trees hewn down wantonly and left to die, with evil runes or the fell sign of the Eye cut in rude strokes on their bark.

Rude. They really don’t like nature that much, do they?

It’s here that three seek out shelter, and we move into utter perfection. Sam, constantly thinking of food, decides that it is time he makes it a reality. He realizes that he’s got a creature at his disposal that is trying to win their trust, so he sends Gollum off to find food. It’s funny that he hadn’t thought about it before, but that’s neither here nor there. You know what’s important? Sam’s love for Frodo. You know what’s even better than that? Sam’s desire to make dinner for Frodo. You know what’s even better than that? Sam making a stew with the rabbits that Gollum brought back.

And you know what’s better than that?

‘Sméagol won’t grub for roots and carrotses and – taters. What’s taters, precious, eh, what’s taters?’

‘Po – ta – toes,’ said Sam. ‘The Gaffer’s delight, and a rare good ballast for an empty belly.’


There is a downside to this meal; later, when Sam is rinsing his cooking gear, he notices that his fire is sending smoke up into the air. THAT’S NOT GOOD! But the realization comes too late: both Frodo and Sam hear voices and whistling and GREAT. It’s Orcs, isn’t it? Well, they lasted four chapters! That’s a pretty good run. It’s better than Merry and Pippin, isn’t it?

If they were astonished at what they saw, their captors were even more astonished. Four tall Men stood there. Two had spears in their hands with broad bright heads. Two had great bows, almost of their own height, and great quivers of long green-feathered arrows. All had swords at their sides, and were clad in green and brown of varied hues, as if the better to walk unseen in the glades of Ithilien. Green gauntlets covered their hands, and their faces were hooded and masked with green, except for their eyes, which were very keen and bright. At once Frodo thought of Boromir, for these Men were like him in stature and bearing, and in their manner of speech.

Oh. Oh. So…what? Not Orcs? And not Men of the Dark Lord? So who the hell are these Men? Why aren’t they going to eat Frodo and Sam?

‘Boromir son of the Lord Denethor?’ said Faramir, and a strange stern look came into his face. ‘You came with him?’

OH SHIT. THEY KNOW BOROMIR! Oh, this is wonderful! Well, I thought that for about all of five seconds before I remembered that BOROMIR IS FUCKING DEAD HOLY SHIT WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO TELL THESE GUYS. Oh, that is so awkward. Like, “Oh, yes! Boromir! Wonderful chap, rather brave and valiant, yes, we came with him! Right, and then he tried to steal something from me and he died twenty minutes later. So, we all good here?”

Still, I can’t deny that it’s good news. Will they have an escort further on their journey at this point? I suppose it’s possible, but there’s no indication of it just yet. Instead, after some conversation between the characters about the current state of affairs, Tolkien makes an interesting choice with what he decides to write about. When the Men that knew Boromir and served under him get into battle the scarlet-clad warriors we’d seen earlier in the chapter, Sam has a moment of reflection on the attack spreading out before him, especially after he sees one of the enemy die:

He wondered what the man’s name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace – all in a flash of thought which was quickly driven from his mind.

It’s such a unique take on the death of a total stranger, and you can see Tolkien’s own thoughts (since the man did live through two world wars) come through in the pages. He’s refusing to let us forget that despite that there’s a moral imperative behind the war that’s brewing, the people in it cannot be distilled so easily. I find it impressive and respectful that Sam has this brief moment where his heart sees a corpse as a full person, one that could very well have been deceived in a way that brought him here.

There is a war coming in Middle-earth, and I think this was a way for Tolkien to remind us as such. Even if the chapter ends with the group finally spotting an oliphaunt for the first time, I actually find this brief passage to be the strongest part of chapter four. War is a brutal, horrific thing, and I have a feeling Tolkien’s going to expand on it in the future.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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334 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 4

  1. Juliana Moreli says:

    PO-TA-TOES ….. Samwise you are made of gold!!!!!

    And also…. FARAMIR…!!!!!

  2. Jenny_M says:

    Fnqyl, Sebqb pna’g gryy Snenezve gung Obebzve vf qrnq orpnhfr Sebqb qbrfa’g xabj gung ur vf. Nf sne nf Sebqb xabjf, gur jubyr Sryybjfuvc vf svar naq qnaql yvxr pbggba pnaql, lb.

    Also PO-TA-TOES!

  3. Tauriel_ says:

    ‘What’s taters, precious, eh, what’s taters?

    [youtube ihMMw0rnKz4 youtube]

    😀 😀 😀

    • Jenny_M says:

      Mark shouldn't watch this, though! Because you see/hear Gollum and we want to keep him unspoiled on Gollum-y things!

      • rabidsamfan says:

        Alas, yes. Resist temptation, Mark! There's far too much of the scene and dialogue in that, but it will be waiting for you when you watch the movies.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Well, how come posting pics of other characters isn't a spoiler?

        I don't recall Mark saying anywhere he doesn't want to see pics of Gollum from the films… Please correct me if I'm wrong.

        • Jenny_M says:

          It was more of a…commenter consensus over the last couple of days? Sort of like we didn't want to spoil Sean Bean until after Boromir was dead, we figured the first time he sees Gollum should be in the context of the film since ur nqzvggrq ur unf ab vqrn jung Tbyyhz vf tbvat gb ybbx/fbhaq yvxr.

          So, not an official rule or anything, just sort of…a general thought-trend?

    • knut_knut says:

      <3 best part of the books and movies, in my opinion

    • blossomingpeach says:

      I cannot read that line of Gollum's neutrally anymore…

    • MzyraJ says:

      Oh lord, this song is going to be stuck in my head all day now… >.<

    • bookworm67 says:

      Nearly burst out laughing when I read that part of the review. Oh my god xD

      …it's going to be stuck in my head all night now.

  4. Tauriel_ says:

    Tauriel's Linguistic Corner

    Not much today, but still…

    Ithilien – "Moon-land". Sindarin origin, based on the word Ithil = "Moon"; named after the city of Minas Ithil before it was taken by Sauron and renamed Minas Morgul.
    Harad – "South", "the South". Sindarin word.
    Umbar – unknown meaning, it was given to the area by its original inhabitants. Incidentally, umbar is the Quenya word for "fate", but there's no connection between it and the place name.

    • stormwreath says:

      What about the name Faramir itself? As far as I can see, it means 'Jewel of hunters', from fara- 'to hunt' and mir 'jewel'. Sindarin origin.

      • Tul says:

        "Faramir" actually is quenya : "jewel of the seashore" from "fára" (seashore) and "mírë" (jewel).
        It's not sindarin because it's a king's name – there was a prince named Faramir long ago, and the kings had quenya names. Jung'f shaal vf gung gur Fgrjneqf nyfb unq dhraln anzrf ohg bayl jura gurl jrer Fgrjneqf gb gur Xvatf naq abg Ehyvat Fgrjneqf. Snenzve jvyy or gur ynfg Ehyvat Fgrjneq naq gur svefg Fgrjneq gb n Xvat va n ybat gvzr. Gung'f fbzr sberfunqbjvat !
        Nyfb V'z fher uvf zbgure pubfr gur anzr. Jr'er gbyq fur ybirq gur frn naq jnf pbafgnagyl cvaavat sbe vg. Zhfg unir orra ure jub anzrq ure frpbaq onol "wrjry bs gur frnfuber". Obebzve vf fvaqneva gubhtu.

        Well, that's my interpretation anyway ! 😀 "jewel of the hunter/the hunt" or "hunter's jewel" is given often enough as an explanation.
        Encyclopedia of arda gives another solution (from sindarin "far") : "sufficient jewel", nf va pbagenfg gb Obebzve'f "snvgushy wrjry". Ohg vg'f gur yrnfg fngvfsnpgbel bar, VZUB.

        • anghraine says:

          Yay, someone shares my interpretation! I hear the sufficient/hunter interpretation all over, but I think it's very unlikely that Prince Faramir's name wasn't Quenya (I can't think of any member of the Gondorian royal family who has a Sindarin name, actually), and fára makes perfect sense. (V'ir nyfb nyjnlf ybirq gur vqrn gung vg'f yvathvfgvp sberfunqbjvat. V'ir arire frra nalobql ryfr guvax fb, gubhtu!)

          • Tul says:

            I think it's because so many names are sindarin in this book that people just don't look for quenya translation ! Or this theory would surely be more popular ! Because yes, fára just makes the more sense.
            Vs jr'er evtug, V'z fher gur sberfunqbjvat jnf qbar va checbfr gubhtu. Gbyxvra qbrf nznmvat guvatf jvgu gurfr anzrf !

            • stormwreath says:

              Actually, it's because I assumed that if his name were Quenya, it would have been Faramirë not Faramir…

              As for the earlier Prince Faramir, that can be explained by the Kings taking Quenya names when they were crowned , in place of their mundane given names which could well have been in Sindarin. Gur jnl Nentbea gnxrf gur Dhraln anzr Ryrffne ng uvf pbebangvba.

              • anghraine says:

                The Quenya -mírë names were usually shortened to -mir. Prince Faramir's older brother was Artamir, one of the earlier kings was Aldamir, and there are others. Also, it's not just the kings that have Quenya names – every single member of the royal family of Gondor has Quenya names.

                Vfvyqhe'f urvef jrera'g xvatf bs Tbaqbe, naq fgbccrq hfvat Dhraln anzrf jura gurl ybfg gurve guebar, nf n znex bs … abg orvat xvatf. Ohg Nentbea vf na rkprcgvba; gur Tbaqbevna xvatf, cevaprf, naq cevaprffrf jrera'g rire tvira Fvaqneva anzrf.

              • Tul says:

                Oh I just thought that since the first language in Gondor was sindarin, the spelling and pronunciation of any name would be sindarin there, regardless of its etymology. I can spell my name using two alphabets, and I pronounce it differently when using different languages. Most of the names we use today (in France at least) have a germanic or latin origin, but they aren't exactly the same as the words they derive from.
                (Anyway nothing fits perfectly for Faramir, if it was "jewel of the hunter", it should be "Faronmir" – "fara" is the verb form – and if it was "suficient jewel" it should be "Farmir")

                (I'm not sure if this makes sense, but I'm tired)

                As for the kings only taking quenya names after their crowning – I hadn't thought of that ! But checking quickly, Artamir and Fíriel, Faramir's siblings, also have quenya names, Minalcar (who was only the nephew of the King for a long time) too and even Eldacar (who was Vinitharya – quenya). I can find no mention of a prince with a sindarin name before his crowning, so it really seems like they all had quenya names naq Nentbea orpnzr Ryrffne gb xrrc gur genqvgvba.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          Obebzve vf zvkrq bevtva, nppbeqvat gb gur Nccraqvprf.

          But well said, I did indeed forget to explain Faramir's name. Mea culpa. I was too busy flailing about his appearance. :p

    • How about the word for potato? 😀

      • Tauriel_ says:

        There isn't one, but we could use the French word for potato, which is "pomme-de-terre", meaning "apple of the earth", and translate that. 🙂

        Quenya word for "apple" is orva; Quenya word for "earth", "soil" is cén or cem- in compounds (pronounced "kén" or "kem").

        Therefore a Quenya word for potato could be cemorva. 🙂

        Another possible translation is a neo-Quenya word cemmas, suggested by one Czech Tolkien scholar and linguist – this means "earth bread" and is a combination of cem- = "earth", "soil" and massa = "bread".

        • floppus says:

          In Sindarin, it would be cae (or maybe cêf) "earth" + cordof "apple" = caegordof, plural caegerdyf (or possibly cevgordof, cevgerdyf.) "Potato babies" would be caegerdevlaes. 🙂

          • flootzavut says:

            OK I love that we now know what potato babies would be in Sindarin. That is just… far out, man. or something. LOVE IT!

    • flootzavut says:

      I always loved the name Ithilien, it's so Elvish somehow, so poetic 🙂

      Totally random, but you seem the person to ask: How would one say "I love you" in Quenya and/or Sindarin? I have this thing where I collect ways to say "I love you" – I think the current total is… maybe 10 languages? In languages ranging from "am fluent in" to "this is the only thing I can say in this language. I keep losing count of exactly how many. It's one of those totally useless skills but I just love being able to say it in lots of different languages.

      Think my current list is: English, French, Italian, Spanish, German, Croatian, Russian, Polish, Japanese, Chinese, Hebrew… well that's 11 so I'm thinking that probably means I haven't missed any because I didn't think it was that many! I know I've learned and then forgotten a couple more :-/ I never remember to keep a written record of the ones from languages I barely know. I would LOVE to add an Elvish languages or two to my list 🙂

      • floppus says:

        In Sindarin, "I love" would be melon (pronounced differently from mellon "a friend", although the two words come from the same root.)

        "You" (accusative) seems to be somewhat unclear; it might be either len or le. So either "le melon" or "len melon" (or would the latter become "lem melon"?) Or you could put the verb first instead, depending on how you want to emphasize it.

        Also, the pronoun le is translated as "thee", and might be considered "formal," but if Sindarin has a separate set of "familiar" second-person pronouns, they're not attested in any of Tolkien's published writings.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        I did a bit of digging around Ardalambion, and there is an attested Quenya phrase "I love you" in Lost Road: Yonya inyë tye-méla, which means "I too, my son, love thee". Yonya means "my son"; inyë is the first person singular pronoun "I", but stressed, so as to form "I, too"; tyë is the intimate/familiar/singular second person pronoun (like the French "tu", as opposed to the formal/plural "vous"); méla is the present tense of mel- = "to love". Now, the sentence as it is now looks like an answer – like when someone tells you "I love you" and you reply "I love you, too", stressing the "I". But how would the first sentence look like? I believe there would be less stress on the pronoun "I", and therefore it would be handled as a suffix "-nyë" (or the shorter form "-n"). So the original phrase "I love you" would be Tye-melin or Tye-melinyë (the verb mel- takes the form meli- when taking on a pronominal suffix). 🙂

  5. Stephen_M says:

    Hzz, bar guvat Znex… Sebqb naq Fnz qba’g xabj Obebzve vf qrnq. Gurl yrsg gur pbzcnal orsber gung unccrarq. Juvyr gurl’q yvxryl unir urneq gur ubea oybjvat gurl’ir tbg ab jnl gb xabj gur bhgpbzr bs gung onggyr….

    Oh, yes, the chapter. Nice change of pace, some great character moments and the brief battle at the end is a subtle way of bringing that part of the story back into what is mostly quite a personal journey up to now. The oliphaunt leaves a definite impression, primarily because in many ways the reactions we get from Sam are a reflection of those of the reader for the last three and a bit books.

    • Stephen_M says:

      Disagree for two reasons:

      1) It's in no way a spoiler. Sorry but it just isn't , it's clearly happened in the book already and is surely a valid point of discussion as it was a) brought up in the review and b) doesn't require any knowledge of what's to come.

      2) Znex jevgrf gurfr erivrjf nurnq bs gvzr! Guvax ur gjrrgrq nobhg Tnaqnys qlvat va Zbevn nobhg guerr be sbhe qnlf orsber gur erivrj jnf cbfgrq. Fb vg jba'g fcbvy nalguvat sbe uvz naljnl.

      • James says:

        Didn't see the deleted comment, but as for your second point: the rot-13 isn't just for Mark. There are people reading along for the first time on the same schedule as the reviews are posted.

        • Stephen_M says:

          Again though I have to say I just don't see the spoiler in my initial post. It's a totally valid point using only the knowledge gained to this point in the book to make a correction!

      • BetB says:

        I think the decision has been made on whether it's a spoiler or not. 🙂 I want to explain where I got my reasoning on the "is it a spoiler" issue.

        From the spoiler policy:
        "5) Telling me the “answer” is in a past book.

        EX: “Mark, GO LOOK WHAT SO-AND-SO SAID ON PAGE 87 IN BOOK 4!!!!!!”

        Effect: Half the experience of reading/watching anything that is this dense is seeing what I pick up on and which details I pass over. You are essentially taking away a moment of epiphany/surprise. THIS INCLUDES TELLING ME TO GO BACK AND LOOK AT FORESHADOWING.."

        That is the only reason I questioned whether this was a spoiler or not. Znex unf pyrneyl zvkrq fbzr fghss hc. V jnf guvaxvat gung gryyvat uvz gung ur zrffrq hc uvf snpgf jnf fcbvyvat uvz. V nyfb yvxrq gur gubhtug bs gur vagreebtngvba bs Sebqb ol Snenzve jbhyq or zhpu zber vagrerfgvat vs gur gernpurel vffhr jnf raunaprq ol uvf ynpx bs xabjyrqtr.

        Lbhe cbvag #2 pnaabg or nethrq. 🙂 I can't wait for Monday and how he reacts to what happens next!

  6. Tauriel_ says:

    In this chapter ZOMG FARAMIIIIIIIIR!!! <3 <3 <3 😀 😀 😀

    <img src=""&gt;

    Ahem. 😀 Let's not get ahead of ourselves, shall we?

    First of all, I love the change of scenery. The last few chapters were so depressing, trudging through the empty, barren, poisoned lands – so when the hobbits and Gollum come to Ithilien, it is a truly refreshing change. I love the description of the flora – it does sound very Mediterranean, with cedars and cypresses and pine trees and olives and thyme and myrtle (just like Shire is described as being like "England's mountains green"), and early Spring. The hobbits' spirits are lightened, and Sam has an idea for a "homely meal" and asks Gollum to hunt something for them.

    ‘Sméagol always helps, if they asks – if they asks nicely.’
    ‘Right!’ said Sam ‘I does ask. And if that isn’t nice enough, I begs.’

    😀 I love how Sam, despite his constant mistrust and dislike of Gollum, is clearly trying to be, if not friendly, then at least polite with him – even adopting his manner of speaking.

    And between all this almost Boy Scout-like campfire and cooking, there's this lovely little moment where Sam watches Frodo sleeping and notices how Frodo has been changed, from within, by his past injuries and his burden, even though he can't exactly put it in words.

    ‘I love him. He’s like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But I love him, whether or no.’

    <3 <3 <3 This is a beautiful confession from Sam – I don't think it's sexual (despite a rather large number of slash fanfiction), but rather a very pure and deep form of loyalty and friendship. <3

    (con'd below)

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Anyway, back to the camping. Gollum and Sam have a bit of an argument over how food should be eaten (no surprise, Gollum prefers his meat and fish raw), then Frodo wakes up and they eat the stew.

      And then, ZOMG, they're ambushed! Or, well, discovered by some Gondorian soldiers who seem a bit like Rangers.

      ‘Elves do not walk in Ithilien in these days. And Elves are wondrous fair to look upon, or so ‘tis said.’
      ‘Meaning we’re not, I take you,’ said Sam. `Thank you kindly.

      *snigger* Oh, Sam, I love you when you're being snarky. 😀

      And thus we're introduced to Captain Faramir, leader of these Rangers of Ithilien, who asks Frodo and Sam who they are. The distrust is quickly dispelled by Frodo telling him that they come from Imladris, and quoting the verse that Boromir had spoken. There's not much time to discuss things in more detail, so they part:

      ‘Farewell!’ said Frodo, bowing low. `Think what you will, I am a friend of all enemies of the One Enemy. We would go with you, if we halfling folk could hope to serve you, such doughty men and strong as you seem, and if my errand permitted it. May the light shine on your swords!’
      ‘The Halflings are courteous folk, whatever else they be,’ said Faramir. `Farewell!’

      And again we have another example how courtesy and politeness is valued in Middle-earth. <3

      We also learn a little bit about the history between Gondor and Harad, and how the Haradrim are now fighting under Sauron. Then there is a battle, or a skirmish, between a group of Haradrim and the Gondorian Rangers, and we finally meet a Mûmak of Harad, Sam's fabled oliphaunt:

      John Howe's version:

      <img src="; width="650">

      Alan Lee's version:

      <img src=""&gt;

      • cait0716 says:

        Holy crap, that first picture is gorgeous. I want to go there and never, ever leave

      • rabidsamfan says:

        Just give us the link instead.

        • divAndRule says:

          Thanks mods .. I am posting a link to Anke Eissman's artwork.

          below is one of my favorite images of Faramir

        • blossomingpeach says:

          Abg fher jul gung pbzzrag jnf qryrgrq? Ohg V tbbtyrq gur negvfg, Naxr Rvffznaa, juvpu yrq zr gb ure jrofvgr. Gbaf naq gbaf bs Snenzve neg! (Naq fgnegvat jvgu Snenzve'f svefg nccrnenapr gb gur raq, irel yvggyr bs nalguvat ryfr.)Gur snatvey va zr jub arire tbg rabhtu va gur zbivrf vf irel fngvfsvrq evtug abj.

          • divAndRule says:

            V jnf'g noyr gb rzorq gur vzntr. Rira abj gur yvax vf oebxra. V guvax fur znl unir qvfnoyrq yvaxvat be fbzrguvat. Fb V nfxrq gur zbqf gb qryrgr gur pbzzrag. NX Rvffzna'f Snenzve snaneg vf zl snibevgr ercerfragngvba bs Snenzve. Erdhverq ivrjvat sbe Snenzve snatveyf :). Fur frrzf gb unir n fcrpvny snfpvangvba sbe gur Fgrjneq snzvyl naq fbzr bs gur Snenzve, Qrargube barf ner fb shyy bs rzbgvba. V fb jvfu V pbhyq cbfg fbzr bs gur (aba-fcbvyrel) fghss urer. 🙁

            • blossomingpeach says:

              Lrf, gunax lbh fb zhpu sbe oevatvat gurz hc! Zl yvggyr snatvey urneg vf dhvgr unccl evtug abj!

              • divAndRule says:

                Tynq lbh ner rawblvat gur negjbex oybffbzvatcrnpu :). Bapr jr trg vagb gur Snenzve qvfphffvba cebcre ba Zbaqnl V jvyy gel ntnva gb cbfg zber vzntrf. Znlor frr Vs V pna trg fbzr bs ure vzntrf sebz Ebybmmb juvpu V guvax vf n serr neg fvgr jvgu frireny qvssrenag Gbyxrva negvfgf.

      • atheistsisters says:

        I always feel so sorry for the oliphaunts, poor things.

        also, V fvzcyl pnaabg cbfg zhpu gbqnl, sbe gur fdhrr vf arneyl hapbagnvanoyr. V jngpurq n pbhcyr snaivqf bs Snenzve lrfgreqnl naq vg znl abg unir orra n tbbq vqrn. Fubhyq unir jnvgrq!

        • Rheinman says:

          Historically, elephants have not been effective in combat. While they look impressive as all-get-out, they are not very practical. Unlike horses, they are not truly domesticated and can be spooked rather easily by fire or injury. Then they tend to run wild and trample friend and foe alike, which does terrible things to unit cohesion and formation discipline.

          • atheistsisters says:

            Quite true. Speaking of the spooking issue, have you ever read Mulliner's Buck-U-Uppo? OMG, so FUNNY! But yeah, horses will (unfortunately for them) take on the excitement/desperate valor of their riders and do amazing things on fields of battle, but elephants get scared easier and yikes, I would not want to be in battle with one. Or in battle.

          • Tauriel_ says:

            But that's exactly what the oliphaunt is doing in this chapter:

            On the great beast thundered, blundering in blind wrath through pool and thicket. Arrows skipped and snapped harmlessly about the triple hide of his flanks. Men of both sides fled before him, but many he overtook and crushed to the ground.

            Clearly Tolkien knew very well what he was writing about. 🙂

            • Rheinman says:

              Yes, but not from personal experience this time. 😉

              Alex the Great and his Macedonians figured out how to counter Oliphaunts when he invaded India. Almost older than dirt.

          • Icarus says:

            Yes, but they're hell on cavalry.

        • flootzavut says:

          Me too, re the Oliphaunts.

          movie spoilers:

          V nyjnlf srry nobhg gur Zhznxf gur fnzr xvaq bs flzcngul nf Crgre Wnpxfba znqr zr srry sbe gur pnir gebyy va SbgE, gung gurl jrer cebonoyl dhvgr tragyr perngherf ernyyl, whfg uhtr, naq unq snyyra vagb onq pbzcnal…

    • stingingpetals says:

      I agree with all of this. Ever single point.

      Yea, the love Sam for Frodo… it's just unexplainable in its depth and beauty. It makes me very happy.

    • castlewayjay says:

      I think there are many kinds of love. It's interesting how Frodo seems to have that charisma that makes everyone love him.

    • sixth_queen says:

      Yay Faramir!!!

      I've been an avowed Faramir swooner for over 20 years, and I'm very anxious to see what Mark thinks of him.

      But Mark, did you notice how Faramir treats Frodo much the same way that Eomer treated Aragorn at first? Suspicion and distrust, until they started name-dropping.

  7. knut_knut says:

    – Oh, Sam, I love you, but couldn’t you give Gollum just one rabbit instead of sending him off to find his own? I know you’re hungry and Frodo isn’t doing so well, but you and Frodo have had lembas bread while Gollum has had nothing. You can’t spare just one rabbit for poor Gollum?

    – FARAMIR! Frodo sure is talking a lot to these strangers. I know he’s trying to prove to them that he and Sam aren’t bad, but he sure is giving them a lot of information. He’s lucky it paid off and Faramir isn’t secretly evil…for now.

    – I love that little moment Sam has, but I wish we had more. Even though Tolkien didn’t give us much detail, I’m uncomfortable with the way he portrayed them, describing them as swarthy, and I wish we could have actually met one. I guess there wasn’t really an opportunity for that unless one was captured or they captured the hobbits, and there’s still another book, but yea. Naq V ernyyl, ernyyl ungr gur jnl gurl jrer cbegenlrq va gur zbivr.

    • cait0716 says:

      I though Gollum had already had a couple of rabbits? Wasn't he eating something when he presented the two rabbits to Sam? And then he's just mad because Sam is going to cook the rabbits and "ruin" them instead of eating them raw, like Gollum things should be done. He'd probably be a fan of sushi.

      • blossomingpeach says:

        Ha ha, Gollum at a sushi bar. Love it. "V yvxrf gurz enj naq jevttyvat."

      • knut_knut says:

        You’re right! He was eating something, but for some reason I didn’t think it was a rabbit because they look like they’re hard to catch and 2 seems like a serious accomplishment. I assumed he was chewing on something small and not all that nourishing. Now that I think about it, my thought process doesn’t make much sense. Just because I’d be shit at catching rabbits doesn’t mean he would. But I still think Sam should have shared just a little, or at least offered. Gollum always sounds so hungry

        I would love to see Gollum in a fancy sushi bar! He’d fit right in with all the business men, crouching at the counter, grabbing fish out of the chef’s hands, knocking over bottles of soy sauce.

    • monkeybutter says:

      Perfect comment, I agree with everything.

    • Hidden_Hi says:

      Swarthy. I've never really heard that word before. Is/was it rude?

      I figured that the men of Gondor were trying to demonize the men they were going to fight against. A captain doesn't tell his men, "Listen, these people are alright folks, and are here because their leaders think Sauron can help them, or because they were threatened, and they've got family and kids of their own, but you need to kill them anyways."

      Which is why it was so wonderful and necessary to have Sam remind us that they are people. I still would have liked to meet one as well, but it wouldn't really have fit into the story, and Tolkien was far more interested in writing a story than writing an allegory.

      • castlewayjay says:

        I agree so much with your post! Tolkien wrote a huge book – If he had included more about all the other peoples of Middle Earth, well, it would never have been published probably. He was right to stick with his focus, I think.
        And that's the horrible irony of war – many soldiers realize that the other sides' soldiers are just people like them – but the go and kill them anyway to protect their own homes, families, and friends. Endlessly sad.

    • Atrus says:

      My dictionary simply defines swarthy as "of a dark colour or complexion". Is there some other offensive/racist meaning or usage of the word that I'm not aware of? (honest question, English is not my first language)

      • Seumas the Red says:

        That definition is the proper definition. The only racist thing about it is that when one uses it they are describing someone's skin colour. The problem in this case is not the word "swarthy" but its use in conjunction with a description of a seemingly warlike people in league with Sauron. As we see though, Tolkien does not regard the people themselves as evil (shown by Sam's thoughts about the man who was killed; and in contrast with the portrayal of Orcs), merely that circumstances have come about that this alliance seemed the best option for the leaders of the people of Harad – be it disagreements with Gondor or an evil dictator or whatever.

        • Atrus says:

          From knut_knut's comment it seemed that 'swarthy' was problematic in itself, so I thought it was one of those words that started 'innocent' and in time got a whole different meaning or cultural weight.

          About the Haradrim, I think this is one of those cases where the great history backdrop of Middle-earth doesn't work in its favour. We know from the Council of Elrond that they come from the southern hemisphere ("where the stars are strange"), and from the Silm/HoMe we know that they have good reasons to be at odds with the Dunedain, so it should not come as a surprise that they're a dark-skinned population and that they're willing to ally themselves against Gondor. But that first bit of information appeared hundreds of pages before, and the other one is not in this book, and so it does.

          • knut_knut says:

            I'm sorry! I should have been more specific. I like that Tolkien doesn't make everything so black and white, where everyone who is light and fair is good and everyone who is dark is bad, but it still makes me uncomfortable that the majority of Sauron's followers are described as dark skinned.

      • Jenny_M says:

        I believe swarthy is most often used as a negative descriptor, generally, which the dictionary definition may not reflect. I'm not 100% sure on that, though.

        • Eregyrn says:

          No, you're right. I'm trying to think of any instances in which using "swarthy" as a description is considered a positive thing. I think you'd have to dig into the language used in romance books to describe dark, exotically romantic heroes — when "Gypsy" heroes were in fashion, for example. I think the word gets used in descriptions of pirates, too, and of course, you can have romantic pirates. But I'm not sure if, when it comes time to talk about dark-complexioned/haired romantic heroes, some other term isn't used besides "swarthy".

          It also strikes me that I've never heard a woman described with the term.

          • Jenny_M says:

            I think I've heard women described with it in very specific context – IE an undesirable woman or a woman who doesn't present as "female" or sexual enough might be described as swarthy. To be totally honest, I didn't realize that 'swarthy' could be a racial descriptor as a long time, and I just thought of it as a very negatively charged word – IE describing something ugly or gross. So the cultural connotation, to me, has always been negative. When I later found out that it was usually used to describe race, I was just completely horrified.

            • Eregyrn says:

              Yeah, you're right, I could see it being used of a woman if the intent was negative.

              I think I also always knew it was a negatively-charged word. Although, to be honest, for a long time I never came across it used in what I thought of as a "racial" way, but rather, always in an "ethnic" way. Which is to say — in my reading experience, "swarthy" was ALWAYS used to describe Caucasian people who had darker coloring… not non-Caucasian people. Early on, I most often came across it being used to describe people like Spaniards, Italians, "gypsies", and so on. But the sense I got was that it wouldn't be used to describe someone African, or Native American, or Asian, despite similarities in coloring. (Definitely, it would be used to describe Semitic peoples, and that is a gateway to a broader discussion of "who's white and who's not?")

              I do think that the usage has broadened a bit, but I still have that sense, I suppose. And that is not to say it's not really a pejorative. It certainly is. It's definitely an "othering" term, even if it's "only" used in an ethnic sense. It's impossible to escape the intention that what it's describing is a bad thing, and that what it's describing is "darker hair and skin tone than is ideal".

              • threerings13 says:

                By the way, I've always had the same impression of it's meaning, in that I've seen it used mostly to described people of darker skin tone, but still Caucasian.

              • Tauriel_ says:

                Yep, that's how I understand "swarthy" – tanned, dark haired and dark eyed, but still European.

                Then again, English is not my first language, so… 🙂

                • rabidsamfan says:

                  That's how I've always thought of it too. And blue-chinned, if male. (As in having a heavy beard that shows within a few hours after a shave.) A complexion rather than a skin color, howver strange that sounds. And neutral too — until these conversations I' haven't really thought of it as a negative term, just a description, like "cleft-chinned," or "bald", or something like that. If it had any negative conntotation it was about health, like "bilious" might be.

                  • Seumas the Red says:

                    Uncleanly shaven has always been my impression of it also, with complection being muddy rather than ethnically specific.

                    "Swart" is a related term, and I tend to find to be more descriptive of actual skin tone.

              • Katarina_H says:

                Greg Beeman described Adrian Pasdar as being swarthy (apropos the Pasbeard), which would be a semi-positive example, but it's still definitely a term that suggests a certain roughness. Like you said, pirates.

              • flootzavut says:

                That's how I've seen it used: for darker, maybe olive complexions. If a character were described as swarthy and then played by someone with black or brown skin I'd be wrongfooted, as I would've imagined someone with "dark skin for a caucasion" rather than having a different ehtnic background.

            • arctic_hare says:

              I remember in My Big Fat Greek Wedding, the main character/narrator (played by the woman who wrote the film) described herself as a "swarthy six year old". That's the only time I've seen/heard it used to describe a woman.

          • jenesaispas21 says:

            I believe that Margaret Mitchell used the word 'swarthy' in a paragraph describing how attractive Rhett Butler was in Gone With the Wind.

        • stormwreath says:

          I don't think the word itself had a negative connotation, any more than the word 'black' does when talking about people. But since it's a word used to designate a person's race or appearance, then inevitably racists will use it, and over time it acquires negative meaning by association.

          Incidentally – as I posted yesterday – 'swarthy' to someone of Tolkien's era was generally used to mean a person of European ethnicity, but darker than the typical fair-skinned English person. So either someone who spent a long time outside exposed to the weather, like a sailor or pirate; or someone from the Mediterranean region like an Italian or Spaniard. Or a Carthaginian, which as someone mentioned earlier is what I suspect Tolkien was basing these Haradrim on.

          • bugeyerita says:

            Frodo and Sam have never seen armies before. Here you have "other". They are riding horses in formation of thousands. They are dressed for battle, all red, black, gold, with painted faces. Arrayed with shiny weapons and spiked shields.

            Now, I have evacuated all my bowels, dug into the mud of Mordor and praying for the Cloak to hide me. I really think I would have responded the same if the faces, in all that accoutrements of war, had been white.

            I am glad that Sam sees the individual, the personal horror of war.

      • Geolojazz says:

        I always though swarthy meant really thick legs. I have no clue why the hell I thought that. But I imagined row on row of really thick legged men marching slowly…

    • settledforhistory says:

      Sam, I love you, but couldn’t you give Gollum just one rabbit instead of sending him off to find his own?

      I agree, I was really surprised that Sam didn't share.
      I belive the main reason wasn't hunger, but that he wanted to be rid of Gollum and alone with Frodo for a while.

      I love that little moment Sam has, but I wish we had more.

      I have to admit I was shocked about the way people from the South where described in the last chapter. It's a relive to read Sam's thoughts on that, because we've just had Gollum's opinion before.
      It also shows that people who seem evil in your eyes because they support your enemy, may be really nice, have a family and could be your allies in other circumstances.
      Just like our choices show who we really are, it's also the point of view that my define a person's character.

      • Sam does not respect the dietary habits of those with different dietary habits. This is wrong. Sam should be banned from eating potatoes for 1 hour.

        I always thought Sam could be a little nicer to Gollum, especially in a world where politeness is so valued. It was sad and surprising, but that's why Sam is so perfect because he's imperfect and therefore a real person.

      • divAndRule says:

        Sam did offer to share the stew. 🙂 Gollum would have none it. I do think Sam was actively trying to be as friendly as he could manage under the circumstances. He even offers to make Gollum Fish and Chips.

        • flootzavut says:

          V ybir gur vagrenpgvba orgjrra gur gjb bs gurz ng guvf cbvag va gur zbivrf, jvgu Fnz raqvat hc whfg fnlvat "Lbh'er 'bcryrff!" Vg srryf yvxr bar bs gurve sevraqyvre zbzragf.

    • notemily says:

      Naq V ernyyl, ernyyl ungr gur jnl gurl jrer cbegenlrq va gur zbivr.

      V unqa'g rira ernq gur obbxf lrg jura V fnj GG va gurngref, naq V jnf yvxr "hu… qbrf nalbar ryfr abgvpr gurfr qhqrf ybbx xvaq bs Nenovp?" Qrsvavgryl trgf n fvqr-rlr sebz zr.

  8. blossomingpeach says:

    <img src=""&gt;

    Love you, Samwise Gamgee. (I also am a bit obsessed with potatoes.)

  9. Tiffany says:

    Oh Mark, so unprepared. FARAMIR! <3

  10. Ryan Lohner says:

    The Men in Sauron’s army are another problematic element to some people, as they’re specifically described here as being “swarthy.” Though I think that’s easily balanced out with Sam’s ruminations on whether the dead man in front of him truly was evil, with that obvious influence of fighting a war over basically nothing.

  11. rabidsamfan says:

    Sam! Oh, this chapter only reinforced my love, but it is a wonderful love and worth sharing. We do love him, whether or no. He's so unquenchable!

  12. Alice says:

    Ithilien. Rabbit stew. All is good for now. Mumakils. Harad. Faramir!!<3 <3

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – First Sight of Ithilien

    <img src=""&gt;
    John Howe – Rabbit stew

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Hildebrandt Bros – Rangers of Ithilien

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Donato Giancola – Faramir in Ithilien

    <img src=""&gt;
    John Howe – Faramir

    <img src=""&gt;
    John Howe – Faramir

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – The Mumak of Harad

    <img src=""&gt;
    John Howe – Mumak

  13. rubyjoo says:

    I find Sam's reflection the best part of the chapter too, Mark. Such thoughts are found scattered through English Literature. Here's a poem by Thomas Hardy, written in 1902, during the Boer War that the Brits fought in South Africa:

    The Man he Killed

    Had he and I but met
    By some old ancient inn,
    We should have set us down to wet
    Right many a nipperkin!

    But ranged as infantry,
    And staring face to face,
    I shot at him as he at me,
    And killed him in his place.

    I shot him dead because–
    Because he was my foe,
    Just so: my foe of course he was;
    That's clear enough; although

    He thought he'd 'list, perhaps,
    Off-hand like–just as I–
    Was out of work–had sold his traps–
    No other reason why.

    Yes; quaint and curious war is!
    You shoot a fellow down
    You'd treat, if met where any bar is,
    Or help to half a crown.

    This reflects my father's own thoughts on war. He fought through WWII and said the same about the Germans. Nothing personal, just something you had to do to protect your country and your way of life. This empathy for "the other side" was seen in the trenches of WWI when Germans and Brits united for a football match on No Man's Land and sang Silent Night together at Xmas. Of course, the officers soon jumped on that because you can't feel too much empathy for the enemy or else you won't win. Thus Sam's speculations happen "all in a flash of thought which was quickly driven from his mind."

    • castlewayjay says:

      thanks for posting that poem – I've read it and was going to google it cause I couldn't remember the author! It's so completely appropriate here!

    • JustMalyn says:

      Love this poem <3

    • This review also made me think of a poem I read long ago:

      Strange Meeting

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

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

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

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

      Wilfred Owen (1893 – 1918)

      • rubyjoo says:

        Yes, I know that one too, bmp. "I am the enemy you killed, my friend….Let us sleep now." Our soldiers have always understood this and I'm sure that Tolkien understood it as well. So much compassion and understanding came out of the horrors of the first world war but you also see literature that reflects similar ideas which was written long before this. Wilfred Owen is my favourite WWI poet. He was shot in the head and died only a week before the war finished.

        • The only line I clearly remembered was "I am the enemy you killed, my friend" – that hit me so powerfully -impossible to forget, which was useful for finding the whole poem. Wilfred Owen is definately one of my favourites too.
          You calling me bmp made me think I should have a nickname like 'bumpy' or something … or 'bimpo' … 'bemap' … ?

    • flootzavut says:

      The stories of singing together and playing football with the other side in WWI always makes me sad. I dare say the men in the trenches on both sides may well have had more in common with each other than with their respective superiors. I can't imagine what it must be like to be killing each other mercilessly one day, playing football with each other the next, and then back to senseless slaughter… 🙁

  14. LarrikJ says:

    I was wondering why people would rot13 the word "potato" by itself in their comments…

  15. Ryan Lohner says:

    One more thing to keep in mind: this side of the story is now ahead in the timeline of where we left off on the other side. In fact, IIRC the previous chapter even says that at the moment its events are going on, Gandalf and Pippin are setting off.

  16. Vagrerfgvat ubj gur cnffntr ng gur raq bs gur puncgre vf tvira gb Snenzve va gur svyz gb fnl, abg Fnz

    • BornIn1142 says:

      Pbafvqrevat gung gur zbivr znqr Snenzve n ybg zber qvpxvfu, V'z tynq gurl tnir uvz gung pbzzrag gb uhznavmr uvz zber.

      • bluejay says:

        V'q engure gurl yrsg guvf yvar sbe Fnz naq xrcg Snenzve'f uhznavgl ol abg znxvat uvz qvpxvfu va gur svefg cynpr.

    • Rheinman says:

      Movie thoughts: V guvax gung vg urycf ohvyq hc qenzngvp grafvba gb unir gur evat grzcg Snenzve. Vg tanjrq naq gjvfgrq Obebzve'f tbbq vagragvbaf vagb rivy. Jub xabjf jung vg jbhyq unir qbar gb gur erfg bs gur pbzcnal unq gurl fgnlrq jvgu Sebqb. Cvccva'f fhfprcgnovyvgl gb gur cnynagve rfcrpnvyyl fhttrfgf n jrnxarff gb zntvp gung pbhyq unir orpbzr htyl vs ur unq fgnlrq jvgu Sebqb.

      Ernqvat gur obbx nf n grrantre, V rawblrq gur abovyvgl bs Snenzve, rfcrpnvyyl va pbagenfg gb uvf byqre oebgure, jub V qvq abg yvxr orpnhfr ur gevrq gb gnxr gur evat, naq jnf gurersber n onqql. Abj gung V nz byqre (naq jvfre? jryy znlor… ) V haqrefgnaq Obebzve orggre naq guvax Snenzve znl unir orra cbegenlrq nf n yvggyr gbb cresrpg. Fb V rawbl gur zbivr fubvat uvz gb ng yrnfg or grzcgrq ol gur vqrn bs gnxvat gur evat gb jva uvf sngure'f nccebiny naq svanyyl or bar hc ba uvf oebgure. Gura ur fubjf uvf orggre angher ol erfvfgvat gur grzcgngvba. Ohg fubjvat gung ur jnf ng yrnfg grzcgrq tvirf uvz n zber oryvrinoyr crefban.

      • Tul says:

        Well I don't agree at all, but I don't think it's time yet to debate the point. Let's wait until the movie posts, this is about the books ! 😀

    • MrsGillianO says:

      V nz abg ng nyy unccl nobhg frireny bs gur guvatf gurl qvq gb Snenzve va gur svyz, rfcrpvnyyl jura vg pnzr gb uvf grzcgngvba.

  17. Katarina_H says:

    Sam's thoughts about the dead Harad soldier is my favourite part of the chapter, and one of my favourites of the whole book.

    I found it interesting that Gollum has a "pale green light", since previously he's been described as having a pale light and a green light alternating in his eyes. Is this a sign of both his personalities coming together? I honestly have never noticed it before; another upside of reading this so thoroughly.

    As we discussed in the comments yesterday, I think it'd be best if people left off cvpgherf bs (zbivrirefr, rfcrpvnyyl) Snenzve until Monday.

    • blossomingpeach says:

      Re: your rot13, agreed.

      Znex unf ab vqrn vs ur'f tbbq be vs ur'f onq, be vs ur'f nalbar bs fvtavsvpnapr.

      • sixth_queen says:

        Agreed on the rot13. I'm reading RotK right now where it's described in more detail. Not prepared. So not prepared.

        Monday will be fun!

    • Jenny_M says:

      Regarding your rot13: BUT SO PRETTY. I'll just go look at Google images until then.

      • Katarina_H says:

        Vg uhegf zr gbb (naq V unir n pbzvp V jnag gb funer nf jryy), ohg Znex unfa'g fhffrq gur oebgure guvat lrg naq Qnvfl vf fb irel zhpu n zvav-Orna.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          V nofbyhgryl YBIR vg jura crbcyr pnyy uvz Qnvfl! 😀 😀 😀 <3

          • Katarina_H says:

            Ururur, V rawblrq vg fb zhpu jurarire gurl fnvq gung ba gur rkgenf, naq V unir rira zber sha jvgu vg abj gung V unir n png anzrq Qnvfl.

            • Fiona says:

              Nu Qnvfl :). V org Ovyyl naq Qbz fgvyy pnyy uvz gung jurarire gurl frr uvz. Ur zhfg or fb fvpx bs vg. Gurer'f n terng tvs frg V'ir frra ba Ghzoye sebz gur ovg jurer uvz naq Frna gnyx nobhg ubj fvzvyne gurl ybbx naq pbzcner abfrf. V'yy unir gb svaq vg naq gel gb jbex bhg ubj gb cbfg vg jura jr trg gb gung. Rrrrrxxx, V pna'g jnvg.

          • flootzavut says:

            LRF GBGNYYL!

            V graq gb ersre gb uvz nf Qnvfl Jraunz, juvpu vs lbh'er gnyxvat gb fbzrbar jub qbrfa'g ernyvfr gung'f n avpxanzr (vr zbfg crbcyr jub nera'g dhvgr fb bofrffrq jvgu jngpuvat rkgenf qbmraf bs gvzrf) vg pna trg lbh fbzr ernyyl jrveq ybbxf… :$

    • rabidsamfan says:

      Agree with your rot13. Anticipation spoilers, alas! But we'll see how the mods deal with it.

  18. castlewayjay says:

    Mark this quote you pulled – " He wondered what the man’s name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace " – is one of my very favorites from these books. I would expand on this, but I can't say it better than Tolkien here, so I won't try. understated, yet – So wise.

    Frodo always knows the right things to say to strangers, doesn't he? Love him.

  19. saphling says:

    Love this chapter. For so many reasons that deserve reasoned discussion that I, in my pre-caffeinated state, cannot give them. This must suffice: Faramir <3, Oliphaunts, and Taters, oh my!

    And my favorite exchange in the book and movie:
    "What's taters, precious? What's taters, eh?"

    "What's tater tots, precious? What's tater tots, eh?"

  20. Jenny_M says:

    Also, can I just talk about potatoes for a second? I have an endocrine disorder that makes potatoes extremely bad for me (something about white starches, idk). I mean I can eat them but a single french fry will make me gain like 10 pounds and go into an emotional breakdown. I MISS POTATOES EVERY MINUTE OF EVERY DAY. Sweet potatoes are great but there is NO SUBSTITUTE FOR THE REAL THING. There is this place across the street from my office building that makes the most incredible fries and every day I can smell them and I want to crawl down the side of my building ala Gollum to get my personal precious. WHAT'S TATERS, INDEED.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Ugh, I feel sorry for you. 🙁

      I LOVE potatoes, in all shapes and forms, but my Dad doesn't like them (whenever we have potatoes for lunch or dinner, he only takes a very small portion. And whenever someone asks him why he doesn't like potatoes, he says, with a straight face: "Well, you know, my great-grandfather ate potatoes and died." 😀

      • manybellsdown says:

        I never liked potatoes much. When I was very little, I guess one of my first phrases was "No potatoes!" at the dinner table. For years afterward, my father would pretend to serve me from an invisible bowl containing "nopotatoes" instead.

      • Jenny_M says:

        That is really cute! I don't love potatoes in their basic, baked form, but holy crap, if you fry 'em, mash 'em, make a plate of hash? I AM A HAPPY CAMPER!

    • arctic_hare says:

      That is so awful. :'( I would not be able to live without potatoes, rice and pasta, SO HAVE ALL THE HUGS. *hugs*

      • Jenny_M says:

        I am straight up the most fun person in the world to go out to eat with. "Hi, can you completely remake this dish for me with lots of vegetables and no starches whatsoever? Thanks so much." It works okay in nicer restaurants, but in chain places like TGI Fridays (which is close to us) they sometimes reheat prepackaged stuff so they can't make substitutions.

    • knut_knut says:

      NOOOOOOOO!! I'm sorry!!


    • platoapproved says:

      This is the saddest story. :c I don't know if I could survive without white rice or potatoes, tbh.

    • flootzavut says:

      That sounds like an EVIL ILLNESS


    • sporkaganza93 says:

      It sucks that you can't eat french fries anymore, but on the bright side: Sweet potato fries! I can understand not liking them when craving regular potato fries, but OMG seriously sweet potato fries are SO DELISH. It's pretty much a crime.

  21. plaidpants says:

    PO-TA-TOES. Best written line in the entire book. Obvy rz, znfu rz, fgvpx rz va n fgrj!

    As other people have mentioned, Tolkien's experience fighting in the "Great War" can be seen all over the pages of these books. I think it's something that those of us who have never fought can only try to imagine how it was, how it made people feel, and just how scarring the experience must have been. I love that he shows the humanity behind the "other side", and I think it's something that probably a lot of soliders realize and recognize, more than we're aware of.

  22. MsSméagol says:

    If my heart wasn't promised to Aragorn, I would give it to Faramir. <3

  23. msw188 says:

    I remember being blown away by the moment with the dead enemy soldier when I read it for the first time as a kid, and it is still powerful now. At the same time, there were some passages in this chapter that I practically skimmed over the first time. I could figure out the general meaning of words like "uncouth" as a child, but not "primerole" or "eglantine".

  24. minorthalia says:



    So much to love in this chapter and that is all my brain can say.

  25. ADB says:

    Movie Stuff:

    Ertneqvat zl bcvavba bs cersreevat Snenzve'f punenpgre nep va gur svyzf (na hacbchyne bar, V xabj, ohg zl ubarfg bcvavba abarguryrff), V ybir gung vg'f Zbivr!Snenzve gung trgf Fnz'f yvggyr zhfvatf ba jne naq qrngu (Gjb Gbjref Rkgraqrq Rqvgvba). Vg whfg fubjf ubj zhpu bs n "Crefba bs Dhnyvgl" ur vf, naq fb vg'f abg fb fhecevfvat gung, gubhtu gur Evat grzcgf uvz, ur hygvzngryl nonbaqbaf vg.

    Gur jubyr guvat znxrf Snenzve n zber vagrerfgvat punenpgre gb zr juvpu vf jul V'z fhecevfrq ba ubj cbbeyl vg frrzf gb or erpvrirq ol Gbyxvra snaf. Gung ur lrneaf gb or erfcrpgrq yvxr uvf oebgure jnf, ortvaf gb tb qbja gur fnzr cngu, naq GURA erwrpg vg orpnhfr ur'f orpbzr gur orggre zna nyy nybat (abg gung Obebzve jnfa'g inybebhf, ur jnf whfg tvira rirelguvat ol Qrargube jurernf Snenzve unq gb jbex sbe vg naq rnea vg).

    Gung'f whfg zl bcvavba. Qvfnterr vs lbh jvfu, whfg qba'g synzr zr.

    • Jenny_M says:

      Nterrq. Zbivr!Snenzve arire obgurerq zr. Creuncf orpnhfr V xarj gur Obbx!Snenzve fgbel naq fnj ubj gur zbivr jnf fgevivat gb pncgher gubfr fnzr dhnyvgvrf juvyr tvivat uvz zber bs n pbasyvpgrq wbhearl. V nyfb ernyyl yvxrq Qnivq Jraunz'f cresbeznapr.

    • blossomingpeach says:

      V'yy nyjnlf cersre Obbx!Snenzve (orpnhfr V zrg uvz svefg), ohg V jbhyq arire synzr lbh sbe lbhe bcvavba! Vg jnf rkcerffrq irel jryy naq V qrsvavgryl frr lbhe cbvag. Obbx be Zbivr irefvba, Snenzve'f n terng punenpgre! Naq V guvax Qnivq Jraunz cbegenlrq uvf fgeratgu naq tragyrarff irel jryy.

      • flootzavut says:

        Gbgnyyl nterr nobhg Qnivq Jraunz, V gubhtug ur jnf gbgnyyl oevyyvnag va n ebyr juvpu pbhyq fb rnfvyl, rfc va gur zbivr, or qvfertneqrq. V zrna, ur'f vzcbegnag, ohg uvf ebyr (rfc va gur GR) vf eryngviryl cnerq onpx naq abg gung vzcbegnag, ur qbrf n pbhcyr bs pbhentrbhf guvatf, arneyl qvrf naq gura… fzvyrf ng Rbjla?! Ohg ur jnf fbbbbb sno va gung ebyr gung rira sebz svefg jngpu bs gur GRf V ybirq uvz.

    • ek_johnston says:

      V qb cersre "Abg vs V sbhaq vg ba gur uvtujnl jbhyq V gnxr vg" Snenzve, ohg ur'f abg ernyyl zbivr sevraqyl, naq V nqber Qnivq Jraunz'f cresbeznapr. Gurl arrqrq fbzr qenzn va gur onpx unys bs Sebqb naq Fnz'f wbhearl (fvapr gurl zbirq Gung Bgure Guvat gb gur guveq zbivr), naq bs nyy gur qryvorengr punatrf znqr va Gur Gjb Gbjref zbivr, vg'f gur bar V zvaq gur yrnfg (jryy…lrf, vg'f gur bar V zvaq gur yrnfg).

      V nyfb yvxr gung gurl tnir Fnz'f gubhtug gb Snenzve gb ibvpr. Vg tbrf n ybat jnl gbjneqf znxvat uvz zber yvxr uvf obbx!frys naq cnivat gur jnl sbe uvf riraghny ghea nebhaq.

      • Laurelluin says:

        V cersre n Snenzve aboyr rabhtu gb fgvpx ol uvf fgngrzrag bs ershfvat guvf haxabja guvat, rira vs ur sbhaq vg ylvat ba gur uvtujnl naq pbhyq fnir Zvanf Gvevgu jvgu vg fvatyrunaqrqyl. V frr jung l'nyy ner fnlvat nobhg gur zbivr cnpvat naq gur punenpgre nep naq gur veerfvfgnoyr cbjre bs gur Evat. Ohg jbhyq vg ernyyl unir xvyyrq gur jubyr cbvag vs bar punenpgre, whfg bar, jnf noyr gb erfvfg hajnirevat gur cbjre bs gur Evat? Jr unq Tnaqnys, Tnynqevry, Obebzve, naq bs pbhefr Fzrntby nyernql gb vyyhfgengr gur chyy. V ybir gur pbagenfg va gur Obbxf bs Snenzve haqrefgnaqvat gung gur Evat vf n crevy sebz juvpu ur zhfg syrr gb Obebzve oryvrivat gung gur Evat pbhyq or ghearq gb gur fnyingvba bs gur serr jrfg. V srry gur zbivr cbegenlny bs Snenzve jnf abguvat fubeg bs punenpgre nffnffvangvba.

        Abg synzvat nalbar; whfg fgngvat zl bccbfvgr bcvavba.

        • anghraine says:

          I completely agree with you.

          V gubhtug svyz!Snenzve'f nep jnf na vapburerag erunfuvat bs jung jr'ir nyernql unq jvgu Obebzve naq (va gur zbivr) Nentbea, jnfgrq n gba bs fperra gvzr gb obbg, naq jnf hygvzngryl yrff qenzngvp guna gur zber fhogyr grafvba bs gur obbx. V nyfb guvax vg znxrf *zber* frafr vs Snenzve erwrpgf gur vqrn bs gur Evat, jvgubhg frrvat vg be xabjvat jung vg vf, naq gura fgehttyrf jura pbasebagrq jvgu gur ernyvgl bs gur Evat. Yvxr Tnynqevry, yvxr Fnz.

          (Va snpg, vg sbezf n avpr pbagenfg gb Obebzve nhgbzngvpnyyl guvaxvat bs hfvat vg, jvgubhg univat gbb pyrne na vqrn bs jung vg vf. Cerggl zhpu gur jubyr cbvag bs Snenzve'f punenpgre va GGG vf orvat Obebzve'f bccbfvgr, nsgre nyy.)

          • Tul says:

            Gbgnyyl nterr jvgu lbh, gubhtu V'z jnvgvat sbe gur zbivr cbfgf gb fgneg cbyvgryl gnyxvat nobhg gung ! Vs V fgneg gnyxvat nobhg gur cbegenlny bs Snenzve abj, V jba'g or noyr gb fgbc 🙂

            (jryy rkprcg vs crbcyr ner ernyyl va n uheel gb fgneg qrongvat gur vffhr !)

          • Laurelluin says:

            This. The opposite thing.

        • divAndRule says:

          V pbzcyrgryl nterr jvgu Ynheryyhva. V haqrefgnaq gung guvf jnf arprffnel sbe gur zbivr'f cnpvat ohg V qb abg yvxr vg.
          Gur punatr gb Snenzvef punenpgre vf bar bs zl gjb yrnfg snibevgr guvatf va gur zbivr. Gur bgure bs pbhefr vf gur nffnfvangvba bs Qrargube'f punenpgre.

          • Flowerry Pott says:

            V qba'g guvax gur cevznel ernfba sbe gur punatr gb Snenzve jnf sbe gur zbivr'f cnpvat fb zhpu nf gb cerfreir gur pbeehcgvat cbjre bs gur Bar Evat, juvpu jnf fnvq gb unir n cnegvphyneyl fgebat vasyhrapr ba Zra. Gurer ner n YBG bs punatrf gung gur zbivrf znqr gung ner hayvxrnoyr (V fgvyy unira'g sbetvira gurz sbe znxvat Ybguybevra ybbx fb tybbzl naq qvatl – be Ryebaq fnlvat gung Nentbea unq "ghearq sebz gung cngu [gbjneq gur xvatfuvc] ybat ntb"; gung bar znxrf zr vyy), ohg univat Snenzve fgehttyr jvgu uvzfrys orsber orvat noyr gb erwrpg gur Evat znxrf cresrpg frafr gb zr naq vf n tbbq punatr V guvax. Gur Evat fubhyq abg or na rnfl guvat gb qvfertneq.

            • Tauriel_ says:


            • Ashley says:

              Nterrq, naq fbzrguvat gung znxrf Snenzve'f punenpgre fb vagrerfgvat va gur svyzf vf gur snpg gung ur vf n fbeg bs zvqqyr-tebhaq orgjrra Nentbea jub ershfrf gur evat bhgevtug, naq Obebzve jub fhpphzof nyzbfg vzzrqvngryl. Uvf fgehttyr fubjf gung gur vasyhrapr bs gur evat cynprf crbcyr ba n fcrpgehz, naq gung vg vf nyfb abg nofbyhgr–crbcyr pna punatr jvgu ertneqf gb ubj gurl srry nobhg gur evat. Gung uhzna qlanzvfz znxrf zr srry nyevtug nobhg gur svyz'f cbegenlny bs guvatf.

          • MrsGillianO says:

            V nterr gbb. Abg synzvat, ohg qvfnccbvagrq gung Snenzve vf znqr n yrffre crefba guna Nentbea be Tnynqevry jura vg pbzrf gb erfvfgvat gur grzcgngvba bs gur Evat. V haqrefgnaq jung nyy gur ceb-svyz crbcyr zrna nobhg perngvat n zber vagrerfgvat ivfhny wbhearl sbe gur punenpgre, ohg V qvq fb ybir gung yvar nobhg abg gnxvat vg rira vs ur sbhaq vg va gur ebnq. Vg'f n fbeg bs rkrzcyvsvpngvba bs "Gurer'f fbzr tbbq va guvf jbeyq, Znfgre Sebqb."

        • Wheelrider says:

          Nf sbe gur zbivrf, V'z va gur "arire frra 'rz, arire jvyy" pnzc — vg'f ybaryl urer — ohg ernqvat guvatf yvxr guvf znxrf zr tynq V'ir fghpx gb guvf cbfvgvba.

          Bar bgure fhogyr cbvag sebz gur obbxf vf gung Snenzve vfa'g grzcgrq ol gur Evat orpnhfr ur unf "unq grnpuvat" naq nyernql xabjf gur qnatre, ng yrnfg va gurbel, fb uvf "abg vs V sbhaq vg ba gur uvtujnl" cbfvgvba znxrf zber frafr. Bs pbhefr vg urycf gung ur'f grzcgrq sbe nyy bs gjb qnlf, hayvxr cbbe Obebzve.

          Naq sbe zr, vg jnf fgvyy na BU FUVG zbzrag ba svefg ernq.

          • Tul says:

            Arire frra gur zbivrf ? Jryy gung'f ener rabhtu !

            V fnj svyz VV orsber obbx VV (juvpu qbrfa'g trg zr sebz enagvat nobhg jung gurl qvq gb Snenzve), fb V'z fgvyy tynq gurl pnzr bhg orpnhfr gurl jrer jung crezvggrq zr gb trg vagb ZR'f jbeyq va gur svefg cynpr naq ernq gubfr qnea obbxf. Ohg V erterg gurve vasyhrapr ba gur Gbyxvra snaqbz fbzrgvzrf – juvpu vf abg zrnag nf na bssrafr gb nalbar !

            VZUB V guvax lbh fubhyq frr gurz, vs bayl gb or noyr gb haqrefgnaq jung rirelbar vf gnyxvat nobhg ! Gurer ner cnegf gung ner irel jryy qbar (gur ivfhnyf zbfgyl, abg fb zhpu gur fpevcg – V unir uhtr ceboyrzf jvgu gur fpevcg naq cbegenlnyf bs gur punenpgref), vs lbh jnag zl bcvavba. Guvf jnl lbh pbhyq rvgure nccerpvngr gurz, be wbva gur vaqvtanag chevfgf' gebbcf (cbbe hf, obbx ybiref, jbhaqrq sna) jub ner fhssrevat ohg fgvyy svtugvat cebhqyl sbe bhe bcvavba.
            Ng yrnfg lbh'yy or xabjyrqtrnoyr. (Va snpg V'z chmmyrq : ubj vf vg lbh nera'g qlvat bs phevbfvgl ?)

            • Wheelrider says:

              I would not watch it if I found the DVD on the highway. 😉

              I was a bit curious, but I really don't want to ruin my own internal images from this book, one of my favorites of all time. When is a movie ever as good as a book? Also, I don't really like modern Hollywood movies in general. I do appreciate the effort that must have gone into their making, but I also can't help seeing it as hubristic.

              So basically, I'm trying to avoid getting wounded, as you say! Funny, it's a constant temptation to watch… everybody keeps offering me rings… er, DVDs to borrow…

          • divAndRule says:

            Are you by any chance wildwood from TORC 🙂 . She was the only other person I know of who had adopted that stance.
            Lbh unir znqr gur cbvag nobhg Snenzve'f "univat grnpuvat" sne orggre guna V pbhyq. Gur evat'f vasyhrapr vf zber fhogyr va gur obbxf. Nyfb Snenzve naq Nentbea ner noyr gb jvgufgnaq gur evat orpnhfr gurl qb abg fhowrpg gurzfryirf gb gur grzcgngvba va gur svefg cynpr. Snenzve vf jvfr rabhtu gb xabj gung hygvzngryl ur jbhyq abg or noyr gb ernyyl erfvfg gur evat. Fb ur ershfrf gb frr vg, ur ershfrf gb gnxr gur grfg.V nterr gung guvf jbhyq or uneqre gb pbairl ba fperra gubhtu. Zl znwbe tevcr jvgu gur zbivr vf gung Snenzve frrzrq fb rntre gb cyrnfr va gur zbivrf. Tbar jnf gur dhvgr fpubyneyl frys nffherqarff naq jvfqbz. Guvf vf gbgnyyl whfg zl bcvavba naq V haqrefgnaq gung bguref srry qvssrenagyl. Guvf nfcrpg bs gur zbivr nyzbfg ehvarq GGG sbe zr.

            • Wheelrider says:

              You mean there's more than one? I should meet this person!

              Naq evtug gurer vf zber whfgvsvpngvba sbe zl fgnapr.
              Npghnyyl, lbh oevat hc nabgure ernfba Nentbea vf n ureb va guvf… ur unq gur cbffvovyvgl bs grzcgngvba sbe n ernyyl ybat gvzr, ybatre guna nalbar ohg gur bgure uboovgf.

              • divAndRule says:

                Oh yes!. She is famous in the forums for her stance. If you are a fan of LOTR I do recommend those forums as well. They are full of passionate, erudite Tolkien fans debating everything about the books and the movies. The forums are divided into books and movies so you can keep your fandoms separate 🙂 if you prefer. I ahem…lurked there when ROTK was about to be released and was entertained for ages. I really thank Mark and the commentators here. This is the most fun I have had on the internet since then.

        • @mossomness says:

          I agree with this statement 100%

    • Tauriel_ says:

      V gbgnyyl haqrefgnaq jung lbh fnl, naq V dhvgr nterr. V jnfa'g gbb unccl nobhg gur enqvpny punatr bs Snenzve'f punenpgre va gur svyzf, ohg gur Rkgraqrq irefvba znqr vg zber pbafvfgrag vagreanyyl, naq jura V jngpurq gur oruvaq gur fprarf ivqrbf jurer gurl rkcynvarq jul gurl punatrq uvz, V haqrefgbbq jul gurl qvq vg. Vg'f gehr gung univat Snenzve bhgevtug ershfr gur Bar Evat rira orsber ur xarj jung vg jnf jbhyq haqrezvar gur Evat'f cbjre bs frqhpgvba gung gur svyzf gevrq fb uneq gb qrirybc naq cbegenl. Naq V nterr gung Sebqb naq Fnz fubhyq unir bar "bofgnpyr" gb birepbzr va GGG (fvapr Furybo tbg zbirq gb EBGX qhr gb puebabybtl).

      Gurer ner fgvyy ryrzragf gung ner evqvphybhf, yvxr Sebqb fgnaqvat va sebag bs gur Anmthy naq cerggl zhpu bssrevat vg gur Evat (JGS???), ohg Svyz!Snenzve qbrfa'g naabl zr nf zhpu nf ur hfrq gb. V unir npprcgrq gung Svyz!Snenzve naq Obbx!Snenzve ner gjb qvssrerag punenpgref, naq V rawbl rnpu bar sbe jung ur vf. 🙂

      • divAndRule says:

        "Gurer ner fgvyy ryrzragf gung ner evqvphybhf, yvxr Sebqb fgnaqvat va sebag bs gur Anmthy naq cerggl zhpu bssrevat vg gur Evat (JGS???)"
        V gbgnyyl nterr jvgu gur Gnhevry'f fragvzrag. Vg nyfb znxrf Snenzve'f qrpvfvba gb yrg Sebqb tb ybbx evqvphybhf. Nsgre guvf vapvqrag jung thnenagrr jnf gurer gung Sebqb jbhyqa'g or qevira gb fheeraqre gur evat gb n Anmthy ng fbzr bgure cbvag. V haqrefgnaq gung gurl nqqrq guvf punatr gb engpurg hc gur grafvba naq tvir Snenzve n ivfhny ercerfragngvba bs gur cbjre bs gur evat ohg gb zr vg fgvyy frrzf yvxr n uhtr cybgubyr.

    • arctic_hare says:

      Ab synzrf sebz zr! V yvxr obgu Obbx!Snenzve naq Zbivr!Snenzve naq gbgnyyl haqrefgnaq jul gurl znqr gur punatrf gurl qvq, naq ubj uvf obbx irefvba jbhyqa'g ernyyl jbex nf jryy ba svyz, naq gur gvzryvar vffhrf, rgp. Cyhf pbhag zr va jvgu gur "V ybir Qnivq Jraunz'f cresbeznapr" pyho, V gubhtug ur jnf jbaqreshy. <3

    • Fiona says:

      V nterr jvgu lbh nyy. V pna qrsvavgryl haqrefgnaq jul gurl punatrq vg naq V ybir obgu irefvbaf cerggl rdhnyyl ernyyl. V guvax znlor vs Qnivq unqa'g orra fb terng gura V jbhyq unir unq zber ceboyrzf jvgu gur punatrf ohg nf vg vf vg'f n terng punenpgre nep.

      Nyfb V pna'g jnvg hagvy Znex frrf gur svyzf naq trgf gur synfuonpx cneg jvgu Obebzve naq Qrargube. V'ir nyjnlf gubhtug gung jnf n terng nqqvgvba naq trggvat gb frr Obebzve ntnva nyjnlf trgf zr cerggl rzbgvbany :).

      • ADB says:

        I just want to say thank you to you all. This is the most erudite and polite debate on opinions I've ever encountered. Usually when I share an unpopular opinion, I get accused of trolling. So I like Jar Jar Binks and feel the prequels are just as good (and bad) as the original Star Wars trilogy and therefore love them all. So I like most Marvel movies better than the comics, including Ang Lee!Hulk, Daredevil, Ghost Rider, and Spider-Man 3 (even Howard the Duck has its moments). And so….I like that thing we've Rot13ed that I see a lot of LotR fans showing displeasure of.

        This is just the most accepting web community ever and I cry tears of joy.

    • Katarina_H says:

      V ybir zbivr Snenzve, ohg gura, V jnf jnearq orsber-unaq. Nyfb, V graq abg gb or n chevfg jura vg pbzrf gb nqncgngvbaf (hayrff vg'f gur jebat guvat gurl'ir qbar jebat, frr "JGS ZNECYR GUNG'F ABG RQZHAQ FJRGGRAUNZ"), engure gnxvat gur ivrj gung Arvy Tnvzna qrfpevorq nf "V jbhyq ungr sbe crbcyr gb tb naq frr n irefvba bs Fgneqhfg gung vf Fgneqhfg gur obbx, bayl abg nf tbbq." Zbivr Snenzve znxrf frafr nf n punenpgre (bxnl, lrnu, abg gur Anmthy fprar) naq vf jryy-cynlrq.

      Naq V zhfg nqzvg, juvyr V ybir obbx Snenzve qrneyl gbb, ur'f ng gur nofbyhgr yvzvg bs ubj tbbq naq cvbhf naq ubabhenoyr n punenpgre pna or naq fgvyy unir zr yvxr uvz. Fb V'z unccl gung gurl reerq ba gur fvqr bs snyyvovyvgl.

    • flootzavut says:

      FWIW: V nz bar bs gubfr hahfhny crbcyr jub xvaqn yvxrf Snenzve zber va gur obbxf, ohg npghnyyl ybirf Snenzve'f nep va gur zbivrf, naq gbgnyyl haqrefgnaqf jul gurl qvq vg naq guvaxf gurl jrer evtug gb qb fb… vs gung znxrf frafr?

      Nyfb, V qba'g guvax zbivr!Snenzve vf nf rivy nf fbzr crbcyr yvxr gb fnl ur vf – ur'f whfg UHZNA! Jurernf obbx!Snenzve vf nyzbfg gbb aboyr gb or erny, lbh xabj?

    • freelancerrh says:

      Bxnl, V nyzbfg arire pbzzrag urer, gubhtu V ybir ernqvat rirelbar'f bcvavbaf, ohg bs pbhefr, gur frpbaq Snenzve fubjrq hc, bar bs zl ohggbaf tbg chfurq, fb urer V nz, abg gb synzr nalbar ohg whfg gb guebj va zl gjb pragf.

      Obbx!Snenzve vf cerggl zhpu zl snibevgr yvgrenel punenpgre va rkvfgrapr. Vs ur jrer erny, be V jrer svpgvbany, V jbhyq qribgr zl yvsr gb fgrnyvat uvz njnl sebz Rbjla. (Wbxvat. Zbfgyl.)

      V ybir Qnivq Jraunz. V guvax ur jnf terng pnfgvat sbe gur ebyr, naq uvf bssfgntr pbzzragf fubjrq n erny haqrefgnaqvat bs jub gur punenpgre jnf. Gur ceboyrz vf gur fpevcg. V pna nyzbfg npprcg gur whfgvsvpngvba gung zbivr ybiref nyjnlf oevat hc, nobhg ohvyqvat gur fhfcrafr bs gur evat, fb ur unq gb svtug naq erfvfg gur grzcgngvba. V qvfnterr gung gung vf zber qenzngvp, ohg jungrire. V fcrag gur jubyr zbivr bs GGG naablrq jvgu Snenzve npgvat bhg-bs-punenpgre, naq gura orvat eryvrirq ng gur irel raq jura ur fhqqrayl orpnzr (nyzbfg) uvzfrys ntnva.

      Gur ceboyrz vf gung nsgre GGG pbzrf EbgX, jurer Snenzve'f jubyr punenpgre nep va gur zbivr frrzf gb or, Qnqql, cyrnfr ybir zr. Qnqql, vs V tb trg nyy gur zra bs Tbaqbe xvyyrq va n cbvagyrff sebagny nggnpx, jvyy lbh cyrnfr ybir zr? V zrna, jung rira jnf gung? Ubj qb lbh gnxr gur Pncgnva zra jbhyq sbyybj rira haqre gur funqbj bs gur oynpx jvatf, naq ghea uvz vagb guvf cvgvshy perngher jub pnerq zber nobhg Qrargube'f nccebiny guna gur zra haqre uvf pbzznaq? Va gur obbxf, ur qvfnterrq jvgu uvf sngure, ohg borlrq beqref naljnl, orpnhfr ur erpbtavmrq Qrargube'f cynpr nf Fgrjneq. Ohg uvf beqref jrera'g gur cbvagyrff zheqre bs tbbq naq yblny zra. Naq htu, V fubhyqa'g rira gnyx nobhg guvf orpnhfr vg znxrf zr fb natel. V fubhyq whfg tb ernq Gur Jvaqbj ba gur Jrfg naq ybir Snenzve naq srry orggre.

      Fghcvq Crgre Wnpxfba.

      • Tul says:

        This ! So much this !

        V zhfg or bar bs gur srj crbcyr jub npghnyyl qvfyvxr zbivr!Snenzve rira zber va EbgX guna GGG, naq gung'f orpnhfr va GGG ur jnf n wrex jvgu ab vagrerfgvat be erqrrzvat dhnyvgl ng nyy (nf sne nf V'z pbaprearq bs pbhefr), ohg ng yrnfg ur fgvyy jnfa'g gur cngurgvp yvggyr guvat ur orpbzrf va gur arkg svyz !

        Gur RR bs GGG vf jbefr guna gur GR va gung frafr, jr frr Snenzve orvat gung jnl nyernql va Obebzve'f fprar, naq jr frr gur ubeevoyr irefvba bs Qrargube znxvat na nccrnenapr !

        (Naq V fnvq V qvqa'g jnag gb enag whfg lrg !)

        Snenzve vf zl snibevgr punenpgre rire gbb, V whfg ybir uvz !

      • divAndRule says:

        I agree with you completely.

  26. @aagblog says:

    Obsessed with potatoes, you say? (Watch past 30 sec or so.)

    [youtube -mVpGmoES3w youtube]

  27. atheistsisters says:

    Oh, I wanted to mention that I've read statistics about how the vast, vast majority of bullets in every war has been found to be wasted – no matter how much you train your soldiers, they typically shoot over the heads of the opposing force, meaning that a lot of the casualties are basically accidents.

    • Atrus says:

      That's also because most of the time they were shooting for covering/suppressing fire, and not to kill someone specifically. You were firing so that the other side couldn't fire back at you.

    • threerings13 says:

      Actually there was a fantastic article in Rolling Stone a few years ago about how traditionally in WWI, WWII, and Vietnam soldiers were very reluctant to kill the enemy and most shots were intentional misses. And then they got into how since Vietnam the US armed forces has been researching how to improve the killing percentage of their soldiers with great success. It's mostly a process of dehumanizing the enemy and training combat reflexes to the point that they are a conditioned reflex that requires no thought. It was a fantastic and fairly horrifying article, but it appears that the Rolling Stone archives are subscriber only, so I can't go looking for it.

      • stormwreath says:

        I've read something similar – the original research was by S L A Marshall, so googling his name might bring up similar articles.

        One small but important change is that soldiers used to train by firing at round bulls-eye targets. After this research came out, they changed to firing at lifelike human-shaped targets so that constant repetition would get them used to the idea of killing people in cold blood.

        • threerings13 says:

          Yeah, the S L A Marshall stuff is about "ratio of fire," which is the term I couldn't remember. But that still didn't help my googling. I swear, google is getting more and more useless. Shouldn't one be theoretically able to find an article if I remember the subject and the magazine and the vague time period?

          • icy says:

            Googling SLA Marshall is interesting, because his work was so controversial. I really loved his book on WWI (not the best general history out there, mostly because he still misses the war in Africa and skimps more on the Eastern front & Italy and I think his focus on causality is too limited, but as tactical analysis put into layman's language, excellent). But there is a lot of vitriol out there about his theories of combat. Fun reading.

      • msnaddie says:

        God, this is all so very, very wrong.

  28. Jenny_M says:

    Potatoes, white rice (which I don't care about), most pasta (unless it's like quinoa pasta), and most sugars. And it's not like I'm allergic and they'll kill me, but if I eat them my particular condition starts causing me hormonal uh…issues.

    Not gonna lie, though, like once every six months I eat those fries. HEALTH BE DAMNED!

    • cait0716 says:

      Totally understandable. I'm lactose intolerant, but I still eat cheese almost every day. I can't give it up and the stomach ache is pretty much worth it for me.

      • Jenny_M says:

        Haha I forgot to add most bread to my list unless it's sprouted grain shit (which I like but sometimes I miss like…french bread). SIGH. And OMG cheese, no. I am with you, I couldn't give it up. I don't eat a lot of cheese but the stuff I do eat is WORTH IT. And if I got a tummy-ache from it, well, the brie would still be WORTH IT.

        Cheese, man. Cheese.

        • sixth_queen says:

          If it's any consolation, there's a whole community of people who gave up grains and white potatoes voluntarily. Look up Primal/Paleo.

          • Jenny_M says:

            People assume I'm Paleo all the time, and that I'm just doing it because it's a "fad". Makes me SO angry! I'm like…first of all, stop commenting on people's food choices because that is gross; second of all, even if I WAS doing it, it is none of your business!; third of all, once again, what I eat has nothing to do with you.

            I work in an office of…food policers, shall we say?

            • sixth_queen says:

              I'm sorry if I triggered that; I didn't mean to, and especially not in an MR post with <3<3<3 FARAMIR!!! <3<3<3
              I just wanted to let you know that you weren't alone.

              (btw, the paleos are worse food police than non-paleos!)

              • Jenny_M says:

                Lol oh gosh no not triggering at all! Haha it was funny because I was eating almonds when I got this email and someone walked in and was like "EW ALMONDS" and I was like "WHAT THE HELL IS OFFENSIVE ABOUT ALMONDS? SERIOUSLY, WHAT?"

            • LadyViridis says:

              That sucks. I've got a friend who can't have gluten, and has a number of other food allergies on top of it, so what she can eat is really limited. Luckily, potatoes are still okay for her.

              I admit I kind of side-eye some of the fancy new diets people talk about (like paleo and raw diets), but that's mostly because I find their science… highly questionable at best. I don't really care if that's what people choose to do for themselves, but I do resent the articles and such which tend to say "if you're not eating this you're doing it wrong and dooming yourself to a horrible life." There is a LOT of terrible psuedo-science in food/diet/health columns, and I am 100% against using misinformation like that.

              If you've got health issues, though, people need to back off.

              My vice is mostly soda. I don't care that it's generally terrible for you, it's freaking delicious.

              And now I really want some potatoes. Mm. Potatoes.

              • Jenny_M says:

                Yeah, people assume I'm on an Atkins or South Beach plan when they see how I eat. It's annoying, because I kind of AM on those plans (in terms of extremely low starchy carb intake), but not for the reasons people assume I'm on them.

              • misterbernie says:

                Oh god, the… questionable science. We hates it.
                Partly because I love science, and partly because I love dairy.
                Tell me I shouldn't be eating cheese because my ancestors 20,000 years ago didn't and I will go into a rant about lactase persistence because you do not get between Me. And. My. Dairy.

                • LadyViridis says:

                  Yeah, and "questionable" is the kind word. I will join you in your angry rants against woo and pseudo-science.

                  The paleo/raw diets seem to be the most egregious about this, so they get most of my wrath. Ignoring all the benefits that come with cooked food and the role that cooking has played in human culture/development for thousands of years and going with a simple "it's more primitive/traditional so it must be better!" idea regardless of evidence grates on me extremely. D:<

                  • misterbernie says:

                    To be fair, I will also rant, to go back to the dairy example, about people claiming that everybody should drink a glass of milk a day, etc, because that's a very European-centric nutrition model.

                    With the paleo/raw diet, the other thing (apart from the holier-than-thou attitude that many proponents adopt and your points about both the cultural significance of cooking and the fact that agricultural populations generally have in some way physiologically adapted to consuming agricultural products) that bothers me is that it usually disregards that being that, well, picky about food is mostly a luxury, and that starches are a world-wide staple for reasons.

            • Rheinman says:

              Lifestyle busybodies need to mind their own business. The old biddies in my office assume 5 lbs of weight gain is a pregnancy, and won't believe any denials.

    • notemily says:

      Hahaa, you're the opposite of me! I have IBS and white rice is like, the BEST thing for me. However, the way you feel about potatoes is the way I feel about real ice cream. I WANTS IT PRECIOUSSS

  29. ZeynepD says:

    I was not very young when I read The Lord of the Rings. I was about 16 or 17, I think. I have reread so many times since then that it sort of blurs, but I know that a few passages stuck with me from the first.

    Gandalf's "Many who live deserve death. And a few who die deserve life. Can you give it to them? Then do not be too eager to deal out death in judgment" is one. Aragorn's "Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing for Elves and Dwarves and another for Men. It is a Man's part to discern them, whether in the Golden Wood or in his own house" is another. And Sam's "He wondered what the man’s name was and where he came from; and if he was really evil of heart, or what lies or threats had led him on the long march from his home; and if he would not really rather have stayed there in peace" is a third.

    If you are young enough and this is the first time you encounter those ideas, that is a great way to make an impression; if you are not, the way Tolkien puts them still is precision-crafting. Be merciful not proud. Do the right thing. Have empathy.

    • castlewayjay says:

      Great post – I hate it when people dismiss Tolkien's writing as silly because it's orcs and dragons. It's just as much about the great lines you quoted, and about mercy, doing the right thing, and empathy.

      • Eregyrn says:

        You know… I think that explains the reception of the movies, as much as FOTR's having come out so relatively soon after 9/11. I mean, yes, the congruences between the movie's themes and real-world events was emphasized at the time, but… I think overall, people went into FOTR thinking, "oh, it's a fantasy movie with wizards and monsters and junk", and they got blindsided by the way the story emphasizes moral choices, empathy, mercy, and courage.

        • castlewayjay says:

          what an interesting pont – & I agree.

        • threerings13 says:

          Yeah, I remember the line about "So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given to us" moving me to tears in the theater three months after 9/11.

      • I know right? There's only been ONE dragon so far.

    • fantasy_fan says:

      And also:

      Gurer, crrcvat nzbat gur pybhq-jenpx nobir n qnex gbe uvtu hc va gur zbhagnvaf, Fnz fnj n juvgr fgne gjvaxyr sbe n juvyr. Gur ornhgl bs vg fzbgr uvf urneg, nf ur ybbxrq hc bhg bs gur sbefnxra ynaq, naq ubcr erghearq gb uvz. Sbe yvxr n funsg, pyrne naq pbyq, gur gubhtug cvreprq uvz gung va gur raq gur Funqbj jnf bayl n fznyy naq cnffvat guvat: gurer jnf yvtug naq uvtu ornhgl sbe rire orlbaq vgf ernpu.

      Gur ovt cvpgher vf ovttre guna lbh.

      • Nerdfoxy says:

        Yes, I was listening to the Ent chapter yesterday, for the 10 hundreth, and wanting to like write every word Treebeard says down and give a lecture about what we can learn about activism and working for change from Treebeard. (I give workshops on organizing, so this is not really all that far-fetched).

      • ZeynepD says:

        And that, juvyr V qvqa'g dhbgr orpnhfr jr'er abg gurer lrg, is the moment I return to most often in my personal life.

        • fantasy_fan says:

          I understand why you couldn't go there in your original. And if we all started posting all our favorites, this would be a very long comment thread! (There will, I'm sure be discussion of this in the appropriate place.)

    • Jenny_M says:

      There is so much truth and beauty in these books, and I hate that they get relegated to some niche market simply because they're high fantasy. Great lit is great lit, full stop!

    • Dreamflower says:

      "V gevrq gb fnir gur Fuver, naq vg unf orra fnirq, ohg abg sbe zr. Vg zhfg bsgra or fb, Fnz, jura guvatf ner va qnatre: fbzr bar unf gb tvir gurz hc, ybfr gurz, fb gung bguref znl xrrc gurz."

      Fnpevsvpr vf fbzrgvzrf arprffnel, jungrire gur pbfg.

    • rissreader says:

      That was a beautiful post. Very well put.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Hear, hear! *applauds* Great post, thank you. 🙂

    • bluejay says:

      Vg arrqf ohg bar sbr gb oerrq n jne, abg gjb. Naq gubfr jub unir abg fjbeqf pna fgvyy qvr hcba gurz.

      • divAndRule says:

        Nyfb va ubabe bs gur puncgre gung jr ner nyzbfg ng znl V nqq (cnencuenfvat)
        V qb abg ybir gur fjbeq sbe vgf oevtugarff, abe gur neebj sbe vgf fjvsgarff be gur jneevbe sbe uvf tybel, V ybir gung juvpu gurl qrsraq.

  30. Tauriel_ says:

    Nyfb, gur Zra jub fperjrq hc gur zbfg va gur uvfgbel bs Zvqqyr-rnegu jrer gur Aúzrabernaf, jub jrer fhccbfrq gb or gurfr fhcre-qhcre Horezrafpu xvaq bs crbcyr. Fb gur graqrapl gbjneqf rivy vfa'g qrsvarq ol enpr be rguavpvgl va Gbyxvra'f jbeyq.

    • divAndRule says:

      Nyfb qvqa'g gur Ahzrabernaf qhevat gurve yngre lrnef haqre Ne-Cunenmba pbzr bsgra gb Zvqqyr rnegu ba pbadhrevat naq cvyyntvat gevcf. V erzrzore ernqvat va gur HG V guvax (V znlor gbgnyyl jebat) nobhg ubj gurl svefg pnzr gb Zvqqyr Rnegu nf oraribyrag ivfvgbef, rntre gb funer gurve yrneavat naq xabjyrqtr ohg nf lrnef cnffrq naq gurve neebtnapr terj gurl pnzr nf pbadhrebef. V nyjnlf gubhtug gung Unenq'f ungerq bs Tbaqbe pnzr sebz gurfr uvfgbevpny tevrinaprf.

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Yep, exactly. And then there were gur "Oynpx Aúzrabernaf" jubfr vasyhraprq urycrq gb pbeehcg gur crbcyr bs Hzone naq Unenq, fb gung gurl sryy haqre Fnheba'f ehyr zber rnfvyl ng gur raq bs gur Guveq Ntr.

    • flootzavut says:

      Yes… Nygubhtu V pna gbgnyyl haqrefgnaq jul fbzrbar zvtug unir n ceboyrz jvgu YBGE orpnhfr bs gurfr guvatf, bapr lbh fgneg qryivat vagb gur uvfgbel naq onpxfgbel vg orpbzrf n jubyr ybg zber… vagrerfgvat? vf gung gur evtug jbeq? V guvax vg jbhyq or rnfl sebz whfg YBGE gb nffhzr vg'f na rknzcyr bs vaffgvghgvbanyvfrq enpvfz, ohg gur Fvyz znxrf guvatf n ybg zber pbzcyrk naq… ynlrerq, V guvax, sbe jnag bs n orggre jbeq…

  31. ldwy says:


    I love me some potatoes. So delicious. Nothing like a good potato. How sad for Gollum that he is not acquainted with potatoes, Sam will soon set him straight.

  32. Dreamflower says:

    This is one of my favorite chapters as well– for all the reasons others have commented on above, and also– hobbits being hobbity! Sam cooking is just wonderful– it's clear he not only enjoys eating, he enjoys making the food too! I love that his prized possessions are his pots and pans and his little box of salt, and that he knows how to find the herbs he needs (how convenient that they happen to be right NEXT TO A BAY-TREE! A cooking hobbit is a happy hobbit!

    And Sam does shine so in this chapter! I love how cheeky and impertinent he is to these Big Men! He's certainly changed and grown over the months of the Quest– I can't imagine the Sam of Chapter 2 in FotR talking back like this Sam does. He has far more confidence than he used to.

    I love that he can see the Frodo that Gandalf saw in Rivendell, shining in his sleep.

    I love his moment of thoughtfulness about the enemy soldier; it's his first time to truly understand that not all the enemies are orcs, and that even those enemies that are human may have what they think are good reasons to go to war.


    BTW, here's a link to a short drabble set I did about Sam and finding food. (The half-drabble at the end is spoilery.)


    And here is a link to a POV gapfiller I did– the encounter from Mablung's POV, first part not spoilery (and the link goes only to the first part), other parts spoilery for the next few chapters, and the epilogue is definitely spoilery.

    Encounter in Ithilien

  33. platoapproved says:

    Mostly unrelated note: it really is surprising to me how many people cannot resist correcting you in their comments, about the tiniest misunderstandings/mistakes in your reviews. I wonder where all the zeal comes from? Is this just a Lord of the Rings fandom thing, or is it more common among Mark Does Stuff comments? /idle curiosity

    I adore this chapter BECAUSE OF REASONS. Mainly, Sam reasons. Him thinking about how much he loves Frodo? WATERFALL OF TEARS. Him staying awake after a hard day of hiking to try to cook Frodo some decent food because he's worried about him? CASCADE OF EVEN MORE TEARS.

    I think there's something to be said for how well Frodo and Sam complement one another as characters. For both of them, many or most of their actions are directed outwards, for the good of others. In Frodo's case, he is doing good by helping others on a global scale: by being the ringbearer, by doing his best to accomplish this one monumental task that will hopefully improve life for all. Sam, though, does good by just helping just one person, caring for him and trying to make him as comfortable and happy as he possibly can be, given the circumstances. And while it's not as immediately apparent, the kind of good that Sam is doing is just as important as the kind that Frodo is doing. At least, that's my take on it.

    • I agree with your words because they agree with me.

    • Dreamflower says:

      In Frodo's case, he is doing good by helping others on a global scale: by being the ringbearer, by doing his best to accomplish this one monumental task that will hopefully improve life for all. Sam, though, does good by just helping just one person, caring for him and trying to make him as comfortable and happy as he possibly can be, given the circumstances. And while it's not as immediately apparent, the kind of good that Sam is doing is just as important as the kind that Frodo is doing. At least, that's my take on it.

      Absolutely, you hit the nail bang on the head! Because Frodo would not be ABLE to do the good he's doing without the support of his friend Sam.

      And there is this: for both of these hobbits, the motive is not duty but love– love of their home, their families and one another. Frodo is not doing this just for the abstract "good of the world", but because he knows that which he loves will be destroyed if he does not try. And it's the same for Sam.

  34. Nomie says:

    The moment Sam has actually reminds me most of the Iliad – there are moments where men we barely see in the rest of the narrative will get a lovely passage about their names and their origins as they spill the contents of their bellies in the dusty plain before the towers of Troy, and the reminder that every man who dies is a man, not a faceless suit of armor.

  35. clodia_risa says:

    On Sam’s/Tolkein’s reflections on war, I just want to quote a bit of Louis MacNeice:

    Nightmare leaves fatigue:
    We envy men of action
    Who sleep and wake, murder and intrigue
    Without being doubtful, without being haunted.
    And I envy the intransigence of my own
    Countrymen who shoot to kill and never
    See the victim’s face become their own
    Or find his motive sabotage their motives.

  36. Hailey says:

    Your obsession made me think of GLaDOS, or, a-hem, POTaDOS.

  37. Ashley says:

    "What's taters, Precious?" is one of the greatest lines in all of English literature.

  38. Cereus says:

    Some images of Ithilien (from actual places – this is how I typically see it in my head):

    <img src=>

    <img src=>

    <img src=>

  39. stormwreath says:

    There's one thing that bugs me about this chapter.

    Middle Earth is basically meant to be our own world many thousands of years ago, yes? And specifically Europe, with the Shire as England.

    So how did they lose the potatoes? Why did they die out and have to be re-introduced from America by the Spanish? 🙂

    • castlewayjay says:

      I don't think it's supposed to be that literal a transposing of Europe.

      • stormwreath says:

        It is, though.

        'Middle-earth', by the way, is not a name of a never-never land without relation to the world we live in (…) and though I have not attempted to relate the shape of the mountains and land masses to what geologists may say or surmise about the nearer past, imaginatively this 'history' is supposed to take place in a period of the actual Old World of this planet"
        – Tolkien, letter 1955

        "Middle-earth is not an imaginary world. The name is the modern form (appearing in the 13th century and still in use) of midden-erd > middel-erd, an ancient name for the oikumene, the abiding place of Men, the objectively real world, in use specifically opposed to imaginary worlds (as Fairyland) or unseen worlds (as Heaven or Hell). The theatre of my tale is this earth, the one in which we now live, but the historical period is imaginary. The essentials of this abiding place are all there (at any rate for inhabitants of N W Europe) so naturally it feels familiar, even if a little glorified by the enchantment of distance in time."
        – Tolkien, reply to review, 1956

        "Those days, the Third Age of Middle-earth, are now long past, and the shape of all lands has been changed; but the regions in which Hobbits then lived were doubtless the same as those in which they still linger: the North West of the Old World, east of the Sea."
        – Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, Prologue

        "If Hobbiton and Rivendell are taken (as intended) to be at about the latitude of Oxford, then Minas Tirith, 600 miles south, is at about the latitude of Florence."
        -Tolkien, letter 1967

        • Dreamflower says:

          Depends on what sort of explanation you want:

          Story-external: JRRT liked potatoes and tobacco and garden flowers that did not necessarily originate in England. So he put them in the Shire for hobbits to enjoy.

          Story-internal: potatoes and tobacco, like athelas, were brought to M-e from Numenor. It's been thousands and thousands of years since the Third Age, so they had time to die out and then be re-introduced. The world, has, after all been through several upheavals since then.

    • LadyViridis says:

      It wouldn't be that the potatoes died out, it's that they wouldn't exist at all. Potatoes come exclusively from the Andes region in South America. ALL potato crops and varieties developed there and migrated out.

      However, since Middle-Earth has also been established to have tobacco, I think we can take this as Tolkien making up acceptable breaks from reality. 😉

      • stormwreath says:

        (Ominous narrator voice:)
        Of all Sauron's many crimes,the worst he ever committed was to destroy every living potato East of the Sea. Only in a small valley in the Andes did they survive, until their time would come again and they could once more move out to repopulate the world.

        Potato entuluva!

    • Katarina_H says:

      What I wonder is how they lost the fish-and-chips and didn't find them again until the 19th century. Because that's a crime. 🙂

  40. Tul says:

    N ybg bs crbcyr unir ortha gb cbfg yvggyr ybir pevrf sbe Snenzve ohg V jbaqrerq vs gung jnfa'g fcbvyrel ? Jbhyqa'g Znex or fcbvyrq vs ur nyernql xabjf Snenzve vf tbbq ? (V pna'g oryvrir V bs nyy crbcyr nz nfxvat crbcyr gb fubj erfgenvag va ertneq gb gung !)

  41. Lugija says:

    Somehow I can't think about potatoes as "delicious". But that's entirely because I eat them almost ten times a week. They are very good food, and whenever there's smashed taters and some nice sauce on my plate I declare it the best moment of the day, and eat until I can't eat more.

    That's the best thing about potatoes. You can eat them every day, but they are still good. You can't say that about very delicious foods. Probably because potatoes themselves don't taste much of anything, and so depending of a course, they taste very different.

    So I agree with anything Sam says in this chapter. Shame that they don't grow in the woods.

  42. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    Frodo, Sam, and Gollum head south into Ithilien. After days of walking through the most depressing lands imaginable, this chapter always feels like such a relief. (And then Tolkien reminds us that yes, there's still a war going on.)

    The events of "The Palantír" take place on the first night; as Frodo and his companions are making their way towards Ithilien, Gandalf and Pippin are riding towards Minas Tirith.

  43. Ryan Lohner says:

    And that's true of World War I in particular. All those people fighting and dying just because of the assassination of one person (and reportedly, the assassin himself was completely horrified when he was told what had happened).

    Ken Follett's Fall of Giants is a great overview of the whole sorry business; you will definitely come out of it furious at the people who let it happen.

  44. threerings13 says:


    With all the talk of potato love, I am moved to share the most awesome potato recipe ever. I just tried this last week and they were THE BEST POTATOES EVER. Roasted Smashed Potatoes As in, I totally didn't bother eating half my chicken so I could just eat more potatoes.

  45. elyce says:

    FARAMIR!!!! omg. finally. I am so happy you have finally met him, Mark, you have no idea. SO HAPPY.

  46. @sparklylulz says:

    htu V pnaabg jnvg hagvy gur arkg puncgre wsp V'ir orra jnvgvat sbe vg yvgrenyyl fvapr lbh naabhaprq lbh'q or qbvat gurfr obbxf!

  47. arctic_hare says:

    In this chapter, more reasons why Sam is wonderful and amazing. <3 His reflection on how he loves Frodo, his quest to cook him some nice food and to protect him… OH SAM. :'( I love you so, you are the best.

    Lrf, bs pbhefr V ynhturq naq ynhturq ng gur cbgngbrf yvar. UBJ PBHYQ V ABG.

    Uv, Snenzve! V NQBER LBH GBB.

    Sam's thought about that enemy soldier is great, it humanizes the poor dead guy. I still don't like the description of the men as being "swarthy", especially in comparison to the pale-skinned Gondorians, but this at least helps somewhat. Sigh.

    Sil spoilers: "Fnheba qbrfa’g pner nobhg uvfgbel be ornhgl. Ur vf n zna pbaprearq jvgu cbjre, naq rirelguvat ryfr vf whfg n ivpgvz bs gung."

    Uryy, vg'f abg rira gung ur qbrfa'g pner. Ur npgviryl UNGRF vg naq rirelbar yvivat ba Zvqqyr Rnegu. YBBX JUNG UR QVQ GB AHZRABE, GUR ONFGNEQ.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      After you finish reading the Silmarillion, you should totally read "Monty Python's Fifteen-Minute Silmarillion", a hilarious piece of fanfiction. 😀

  48. rubyjoo says:

    It's already been mentioned that Middle-earth is Europe with the Shire being England and that even Tolkien said this. Of course, because of the Roman occupation in England for 500 years, Romano-British stories, histories and myths would influence any mythology that Tolkien was writing for England. Ithilien reminded me very much of holidays that I have spent in Italy and the old roads they walk upon make me think of the still extant Roman roads found in England and elsewhere within the reaches of the original Roman Empire.

    South of Italy, of course, you find North Africa which was mainly a Roman province. The peoples of these regions would, indeed, be darker skinned, but they were a mixture of ethnic groups: European settlers, Arab, black African and Phoenician. The Phoenicians were traders, originally from the Biblical Canaan, who set up a colony called Carthage (modern day Tunisia) from which the stroppy Hannibal who had issues with Rome and about freedom finally emerged on his elephants to cross the Alps.

    Tolkien had so many stories buzzing around in his head and he manipulated them to form his masterpiece. That the enemy armies from the South are darker skinned seems logical to me, although I'm really glad that Sam shows some empathy. Tolkien tried to enter the mind of the English during the Dark Ages and imagined the sort of stories that would emerge from this culture. They had enemies within Europe but the most fearsome were on the fringes, and they were terrifying and exotic partly because they were "unknown". To the East, The Mongols not only ravaged Asia but swept through Poland and Hungary and burned down Moscow and the Viking city of Kiev. To the South, hugely successful armies of Moors and Saracens, marched out of North Africa and conquered Spain where they remained for the next 800 years. From Spain, they moved up into France where they were finally stopped at Poitiers by the Frankish general, Charles Martel, in the 8th century. The Song of Roland describes a legendary hero who had a Frodo/Sam or Gimli /Legolas friendship with Oliver and who was finally killed in France in a battle with a Moorish army out of Spain. He had a horn called OLIPHANT (!) which he blew as he was dying and outnumbered. Very Boromir. Here's a link to a picture:

    It's a tangled tale and both Muslims and Christians tend to tell it from different viewpoints, so please don't read too much into this. But, these are stories that I knew as a child so I'm sure that they were also in Tolkien's head too when he was looking for materials. What I'm confident of is that he knew that the history of Europe and its neighbours was very complex and that he understood completely that it wasn't a case of Europe=Right and Everyone Else=Wrong but that he was, however, telling his story from the viewpoint of his "heroes".

    I hope I have explained this well enough and haven't offended anyone.

    • castlewayjay says:

      Like your post a lot

    • Katarina_H says:

      I once as a kid got a question in a trivia game about the meaning of the word Oliphant, and my mind immediately went "Uh, the Middle-Earth word for elephant?" Granted, this was before I'd heard of The Song of Roland or Orlando Furioso or any of that, so it's not like I would have known the answer anyway. (And a few years later, I might have claimed that the sword Durandal was being kept safe by The Phantom. *g*)

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Great post. 🙂

    • Dreamflower says:

      That's an excellent point. When dealing with JRRT it always pays to remember how steeped he was in lore, language, history and myth. It was not only his passion, but his profession as well.

      he understood completely that it wasn't a case of Europe=Right and Everyone Else=Wrong but that he was, however, telling his story from the viewpoint of his "heroes".


  49. T.J. says:

    ‘I love him. He’s like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But I love him, whether or no.’
    And then he cooks him the first hot meal they've had in ages. Best Friend Ever. Ugh. Sam I love you. I would hug you except your fictional and this is sad 🙁 But at least he got to see his oliphaunt.
    Also, Faramir! I am loving all the Faramir art here, it warms my little fangirl heart.

  50. Wheelrider says:

    PIEROGIS. Ah, the best thing to eat during/after reading this chapter! That is, if you don't have any rabbit stew.

  51. GamgeeFest says:

    "Sam Gamgee becomes my favorite literary character of all time,"

    Well, of course. Cuz Sam rules! 😉

    "He realizes that he’s got a creature at his disposal that is trying to win their trust, so he sends Gollum off to find food. It’s funny that he hadn’t thought about it before, but that’s neither here nor there."

    I don't think they'd want to eat whatever he may have brought them in the marshes. Eeeeew!


  52. GamgeeFest says:

    part II

    "‘Po – ta – toes,’ said Sam. ‘The Gaffer’s delight, and a rare good ballast for an empty belly.’


    Ah, one of my favorite Sam quotes. Loves his taters, like his daddy raised him to. If you'll remember, his Gaffer was considered the authority on potatoes in the Shire. Sam takes his taters very seriously.

    "Well, I thought that for about all of five seconds before I remembered that BOROMIR IS FUCKING DEAD HOLY SHIT WHEN ARE YOU GOING TO TELL THESE GUYS"

    Well, Frodo and Sam don't know this of course. Boromir was still alive when Frodo left him.

    "I find it impressive and respectful that Sam has this brief moment where his heart sees a corpse as a full person, one that could very well have been deceived in a way that brought him here."

    Like I said, Sam rules. And we've seen this deception at work already, when the men of Dunland are let go by the Rohirrim. Then too Tolkien tells us that the Dunlanders were there because of lies told to them by Saruman.

  53. evildevilgirl02 says:

    A few things.

    1) YOU WILL NEVER BE PREPARED. EVEN WHEN YOU RE-READ IT YOU WON'T BE PREPARED. (I would go on in this vein but there's no point.)

    2) Nerdfighters! I have made a fanclub for Mark.
    (I fail at hyperlinking. Someone else can do it in reply, if you want!)

    3) I'm glad you're enjoying LotR, Mark! One question: how did you not read this epic series until this point? I mean, how did you not read this in your youth (in school or something)?????

  54. @RadagastWiz says:

    The Professor himself has been recorded reading from this chapter!
    [youtube Uzq28bY_NVw youtube]

    Whenever I get to those paragraphs in the book, my internal voice immediately sifts to Tolkien's. <3<3<3

  55. threerings13 says:

    Well it's free to sign-up and you get access to lots of good recipes, but since it's not really complicated:

    Basically you roast the potatoes at 500 degrees in a baking dish with sides with some water and covered by foil for 30 minutes, until easily pierced by a fork. Then you take them out, roll them in olive oil, take another baking sheet and smash it down on top until they're squished, put them back in and baked for another 15 minutes. After sprinkling with salt and fresh thyme. I used fresh rosemary, though, cause it's what I have.

  56. hazelwillow says:

    You skipped over my favourite part:

    "Frodo after a few mouthfuls of lembas settled down into the brown fern and went to sleep. Sam looked at him. The early daylight was only just creeping down into the shadows under the trees, but he saw his master's face very clearly, and his hands, too, lying at rest on the ground beside him. He was reminded suddenly of Frodo as he had lain, asleep in the house of Elrond, after his deadly wound. Then as he had kept watch Sam had noticed that at times a light seemed to be shining faintly within; but now the light was even clearer and stronger. Frodo's face was peaceful, and the marks of fear and care had left it; but it looked old, old and beautiful, as if the chiselling of the shaping years was now revealed in many fine lines that had before been hidden, though the identify of the face was not changed. Not that Sam Gamgee put it that way to himself. He shook his head, as if finding words useless, and murmured: 'I love him. He's like that, and sometimes it shines through, somehow. But I love him, weather or no."

  57. Mariska says:

    That's cool.

    Nf sbe zr, V nz qvfnccbvagrq ol gur snpg gung V zlfrys nz fb qvfnccbvagrq ol Svyz!Snenzve orpnhfr bs uvf ybbxf naq uvf punenpgre punatrf va gur zbivr. V sbhaq gung uneq gb jevgr, orpnhfr vg srryf irelfhcresvpvny, naq V qb ernyyl haqrefgnaq uvf punenpgre-nep va gur svyz. Fbzrubj, V'z fgvyy fghpx va zl 14-lrne byq gebhoyr jvgu gur Nentbea-Nejra-Rbjla ybir-gevnatyr, naq va gur obbx Rbjla trgf obbx!Snenzve jub vf fgebat, tbbq naq unaqfbzr, naq n svggvat zna sbe ure. Va gur zbivr, obgu gur punenpgre naq ybbxf bs snenzve qvfnccbvag zr. Znlor vs gur Ubhfrf bs Urnyvat puncgre jnf cerfrag, guvatf jbhyq or qvssrerag.

    Qbrf nalobql srry gur fnzr, be nz V gur bayl bar jub unf gb tebj hc? 😉

    • hymnia says:

      V jnf qvfnccbvagrq va gur jnl gur fpevcg gerngrq Snenzve, abg ernyyl fubjvat uvf fgeratgu bs punenpgre nf zhpu nf V jbhyq unir yvxrq, naq gur snpg gung gur Ubhfrf bs Urnyvat jnf phg sebz gur gurngevpny irefvba pbzcyrgryl, naq unq bayl n oner-obarf gerngzrag va gur RR. Ohg V guvax Qnivq Jraunz vf tbetrbhf, fb V jnfa'g qvfnccbvagrq ba gung pbhag.

      And on a more general note:

      V'z n yvggyr sehfgengrq gung fb znal crbcyr ner yrnivat pbzzragf gb gur rssrpg bs "Lnl, Snenzve! " jura ng guvf cbvag gur ernqre'f abg *ernyyl* fhccbfrq gb xabj sbe fher gung ur'f n tbbq thl. V xabj vg'f xvaq bs n uneq guvat gb fhcerff (rfc. orvat n Snenzve sna zlfrys), ohg V guvax jr fubhyq or fnivat gur Snenzve pryroengvba sbe gur arkg puncgre, va juvpu gur dhnyvgl bs uvf punenpgre vf gerngrq nf n zlfgrel, ohg vg orpbzrf pyrne ol gur raq.

      • bugeye says:

        This comment thread is right on! Movie issues, spoilers. Great comments.

        Gurer vf ab zbivr ybir sebz zr sbe gur jevgvat. Terng ivfhnyf, pbfghzrf gur ybbx bs gur zbivr, ohgV pnaabg trg cnfg fbzr bs gur cybg naq punenpgre punatrf, rfcrpvnyyl jura vg freirq ab checbfr.

        V unir jngpurq gur zbivrf znal gvzrf, bja gur 4 qvfp frgf bs rnpu zbivr. V pna trg guebhtug gur sryybjfuvc ohg gur bgure gjb ner whfg hajngpunoyr gb zr.

    • Tul says:

      Never grow up then ! Gurer'f abguvat jebat jvgu ernyvmvat Snenzve'f punenpgre jnf qrfgeblrq va gur zbivr (jryy gung'f zl bcvavba ng yrnfg !)

      V'z n engure erprag sna zlfrys (fbzr guerr be sbhe lrnef), ohg V'ir frra gur nepuvir bs zrffntrf bs gur sna va ernpgvba gb gur zbivr, naq vaqvtangvba bire Snenzve jnf rireljurer ! Ur jnf dhvgr ybirq. Fgvyy gbqnl gur snaf ner frcnengrq bire guvf vffhr – gubfr jub pna sbetvir naq gubfr jub pna'g (naq gur frpbaq tebhc vf shyy jvgu irel nqhyg naq ernfbanoyr crbcyr !)
      Url, Sena urefrys, bar bs gur pb-jevgre bs gur zbivr fpevcg, nqzvggrq gurl znqr na reebe jvgu Snenzve naq fnvq gurl jbhyq unir qbar guvatf qvssreragyl unq gurl unq zber gvzr !

      Naq nobhg QJ'f nccrnenapr : V'z abg n sna rvgure, naq V qb guvax uvf Ahzrabernaarff jnf n tbbq cneg bs uvf crefban. N ybg bs crbcyr svaq uvz ubg ubjrire.

    • divAndRule says:

      V nterr jvgu lbh. V yvxr Qnivq Jraunz naq ur terj ba zr va EBGX ohg ur qvqa'g svg zl ivfvba bs Snenzve ng nyy. V thrff V jnf xvaq bs uhat hc ba gur jubyr Enira naq Tbyq guvat :). Juvpu vf fgenatr fvapr Frna Orna vf cerggl zhpu Obebzve va zl urnq pnaba.
      V nterr nobhg gur bcra Snenzve ybir. V fgnegrq naq gura erfgenvarq zlfrys. Zbfg bs zl snatveyvat vf abj qbar va EBG13.

  58. divAndRule says:

    Hi , This is another attempt to post an image from AK Eissman. Please excuse me if it doesn't post
    <img src=""&gt;

  59. flootzavut says:

    I LOVE that Neil Gaiman quote, and think it's totally wise and cool and TRUE. Neil <3

  60. flootzavut says:

    "Oh my god, HOW LONG HAVE ALL OF YOU BEEN SITTING ON THIS JUST WAITING FOR ME TO GET HERE? Y’all, you just don’t understand my obsession with potatoes. THIS IS THE BEST. MORE POTATOES ALL THE TIME!"


  61. Wheelrider says:

    Can I just give a shout-out to Mark's own (increasingly hobbit-y) humor in this post? OK then:

    "…both Frodo and Sam hear voices and whistling and GREAT. It’s Orcs, isn’t it? Well, they lasted four chapters! That’s a pretty good run."

    “Oh, yes! Boromir! Wonderful chap, rather brave and valiant, yes, we came with him! Right, and then he tried to steal something from me and he died twenty minutes later. So, we all good here?”

  62. teaspooncapacity says:

    Be still, my heart! FARAMIR!! <3

    And there's so many things we can do with potatoes! We can boil them, mash them, make potato babies…

  63. evildevilgirl02 says:

    WHY is there an ad for Breaking Dawn: Part 1 next to the review?

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