Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 8

In the eighth chapter of the second book of The Two Towers, HOW MUCH MORE MUST I TOLERATE OF THIS INTENSITY? Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.


My god, this is a nightmare. A NIGHTMARE. This whole chapter stressed me the fuck out. Unsurprisingly, it’s also some of Tolkien’s best writing in the whole book. He combines numerous physical feelings to give the atmosphere of the stairs of Cirith Ungol this oppressive, horrific weight, from the heaviness of the Ring itself to the pervasive sense of hopelessness that rests on Sam and Frodo. More than ever before, Frodo is exhausted by the journey, and as he moves closer to Mordor, he can feel the Ring around his neck pull his head down to the ground. But the three have no real choice left but to stay and get caught, or to press on and avoid detection.

When they do make their way to the city of the Ringwraiths, SHIT IS REAL AND IT HASN’T EVEN GOTTEN REAL YET. The place is light by a “corpse-light, a light that illuminated nothing” from the tower of Minas Morgul. EVEN THE NAME IS CREEPER. But there is nothing more unsettling to me than the white bridge that passes over the stream in the middle of the valley. For real, there are flowers that looks like mutants and smell rotten that line the banks of the stream. The entire place is just evil incarnate, and I honestly think this is my favorite bit of world-building in Middle-earth. I’m not necessarily surprised by the details because Tolkien’s been hinting all along that the lands that the Enemy took over have been physically rendered into ugliness. I just didn’t expect this all in such painstaking detail. I didn’t expect Frodo to basically be controlled by some sort of force in that valley, causing him to run to the threshold of the bridge. Was it the Ringwraiths? The power of the Enemy? What was it about the tower that drew Frodo there? AM I GOING TO HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT THIS TONIGHT? Probably!

Gollum helps pull Sam and Frodo the correct way, up a narrow path that ascends further into the valley, giving them all a respite from the terror of the bridge and those awful flowers. But yet again, something makes them feel so tired that it’s as if they’ve been walking for days with no rest. It’s so bad that Gollum starts to freak out, insisting that they not stop because they could possibly be seen. Of course, right when Frodo gets the strength to stand up and continue on, Tolkien begins a new paragraph with this.

But it was too late.

Oh, now you’re just teasing me, aren’t you? TOLKIEN, WHY DO YOU DO THIS TO ME? What the group is too late for is the opening of the gates, a magnificent and horrible affair that’s loud and terrifying all at once. We get our first glimpse of Mordor, but that moment is brief because AN ARMY POURS OUT OF THE GATE. Even worse, IT IS LEAD BY THE LORD OF THE NINE RIDERS. At first, I thought that Frodo and his friends had been spotted, and that this was the response to that. But when the Wraith-lord pauses at the end of the bridge, I realized that this was a mere coincidence. The Ring had happened to make itself aware, and the Wraith-lord knew. Oh god, HE KNOWS THERE’S SOMETHING ELSE IN THAT VALLEY.

And despite that the army eventually leaves, Frodo and friends undetected, this does absolutely nothing to relieve the tension that I feel. Sure, they survived this chance meeting with the Wraith-lord, but Frodo sums up my feelings fairly succinctly: Faramir is totally fucked. The size of that army is going to crush his men. And, again, THIS IS WHERE GANDALF AND PIPPIN ARE HEADED. Oh my god, why are you doing this to these beloved characters? Have you no mercy?

With the thought of doom and destruction fresh on his mind, Frodo finally gets the strength up to follow Gollum, and they come upon the first set of stairs of Cirith Ungol. Oh god, it’s just so unbearable. I was exhausted just reading of them climbing, step after step, no relief available from the ascent. I like that Tolkien describes this in a way that makes the mountain seem alive, as if it is a living antagonist itself. How creepy is that moment where Frodo peeks into the chasm to see the Morgul Valley and the Nameless Pass? Like, I can barely even materialize such an image in my own mind because it’s unlike anything I can imagine.

Tolkien also reminds us, through Gollum, that the stairs of Cirith Ungol were merely an option to them. There was never any promise that it was an unguarded, secret method to get in to Mordor. So now I wonder what’s in the tower at the top of the pass. What is it in Mordor that burns the sky red? Are they going to be spotted before they even pass over the mountains? Look, I am not expecting this journey to get any easier. There’s still a third “book” I need to read, and I am just guessing that The Two Towers is going to end on a horrific cliffhanger, okay?

I will say that amidst all the hellish imagery and suspense of chapter eight, Frodo and Sam’s (very meta) conversation about being in a tale to be told at a later date is so comforting to me. I mean, first of all, I’m pretty sure Tolkien wrote this part specifically to defend my personal spoiler policy:

‘And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.’


‘No, they never end as tales,’ said Frodo. ‘But the people in them come, and go when their part’s ended. Our part will end later – or sooner.’

NO, YOU SHUT UP, TOLKIEN. DON’T DO THIS TO ME. He’s trolling me. HE DID THIS ON PURPOSE. He made me feel all warm and fluffy for a moment, then reminded me that these characters could easily die on the next page because of where they are. GODDAMN IT. At least I’ll have the moment where Frodo insists that they’ll tell tales about Samwise the stouthearted. Their relationship is just so precious to me! It’s weird to think about how reticent and frightened Sam started out way back in Fellowship, and now he’s looking after Frodo on a mountain pass where they are most certainly heading to their doom.

The two also bring Gollum up again, and Frodo still sticks to the same line of reasoning he felt before: he can’t really concern himself with whether Gollum is false or not. If Gollum betrays them, how much worse can things get? Seriously, look where they are. They’re walking right into the home of the Enemy anyway. Instead, he’ll deal with it when the moment comes. For now, he will fall asleep in Sam’s lap and I will melt from cuteness. CUTE OVERLOAD, RIGHT?

Gollum returns while they’re sleeping, and Tolkien breaks my heart again with just one sentence:

For a fleeting moment, could one of the sleepers have seen him, they would have thought that they beheld an old weary hobbit, shrunken by the years that had carried him far beyond his time, beyond friends and kin, and the fields and streams of youth, an old starved pitiable thing.


I think at this point I’m more inclined to believe Gollum than ever before. Yes, he was gone for hours, but Tolkien’s given me no other reason to distrust Gollum’s claim that he was sneaking about and keeping watch. At the very least, he has a strong interest in keeping the Ring close by, so even if he plans on betraying Frodo at the last minute, he’s certainly not doing it now. I hope I don’t regret typing that. But Frodo gives Gollum a choice: he’s welcome to leave, having brought them to Mordor, or he can stay and help them press further on. Gollum insists that they’re going to need more assistance, and he agrees to stay.

I seriously hope he’s right. I DON’T LIKE HOW I FEEL.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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215 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 8

  1. Becky_J_ says:

    *Things in this chapter that make me feel like there is a dementor giving me a hug*
    1. I don't even know where to start…. okay. Wait. Yes I do… freaking MINAS MORGUL. Seriously, Tolkien, you are single-handedly supplying my nightmares for the rest of my life. I have this image in my head of this place that you think is beautiful until you really look at it, and when you do, you find a place of death, of rot, of despair. Everything is just a bit off, and that makes it horrifying. Oh, and it glows green or something, too. NEVER GOOD I TELL YOU. Never.
    2. The king of the Wraiths…. yay! So glad we get to see him again! Actually, thinking about it, the last time we saw him was at the top of Weathertop…..great hobbit on earth, that seems like SO LONG AGO. They weren't even at Rivendell yet, Aragorn was still a suspicious stranger, and they hadn't even met most of the fellowship! I feel like years have passed! This makes me so TIRED just thinking about it.
    3. Actually, speaking of tired, can we just talk about how exhausted they must be?? I am always tired and am having this ongoing affair with my bed, but I cannot imagine going through all that they have gone through, walking all this way, getting through all these hardships and battles, losing their friends… it would be overwhelmingly tiring. Your very bones would be weary! Gah. NO THANKS. This makes them so much more heroic in my book…. I would have laid down long ago and given up in exchange for a nice, long nap.
    4. The moment of despair that Frodo has is SO HEARTBREAKING. I am actually quite amazed that this is the first time he's thought these things… that it may all be for nothing, that there is no hope of him getting there, that it won't matter. And yet, he gets back up and does it anyways, because he knows that he must succeed or die trying. The weight of that would break anyone else, I think.
    5. Stairs…. SO MANY FREAKING STAIRS. Let me tell you, I remember doing stairs in volleyball in high school, and I can't imagine a worse thing than having to climb HUNDREDS AND HUNDREDS OF STAIRS made out of rock, in the dark, some of them broken and crumbling and slippery and NO THANK YOU. And then, they make it up the first set, and Gollum's all " HAHA oh yeah that was the EASY one guys, the HARDER, LONGER one is coming up now, let's go!" I'm telling you, I would have given up then and there and just laid down and DIED. And it would probably have been a relief
    7. "There the hobbits took what they expected would be their last meal before they went down into the Nameless Land, maybe the last meal they would ever eat together." YOU SHUT YOUR MOUTH YOU AWFUL AWFUL PERSON. Why would anyone ever say that EVER. I refuse to believe that either of them will die, because obviously this book is going to end with sunshine and rainbows and talking ponies and MANY MANY SECOND BREAKFASTS, so you can just stop right this second with your depressing little inserts, Tolkien. I'M ONTO YOU.

    *HAPPY TIMES, LET'S COUNT THEM (you can do it on one hand…actually, on two fingers)*
    1. The talk of the stories that people will tell about Frodo and Sam… sooo adorable. I almost cried. "'Let's hear about Frodo and the Ring!' 'Yes, that's one of my favorite stories. Frodo was very brave, wasn't he, dad?' 'Yes, my boy, the famousest of the hobbits, and that's saying a lot.'"… "I want to hear more about Sam, dad. Why didn't they put in more of his talk, dad? That's why I like it, it makes me laugh. And Frodo wouldn't have got far without Sam, would he, dad?"….. "Now, Mr. Frodo, you shouldn't make fun, I was serious." …."So was I." Yeah, excuse me, I have something in my eye… both of them, actually…. a meteorite, perhaps, that would explain THE MASSIVE AMOUNT OF TEARS COMING OUT.
    2. "And so Gollum found them hours later… Sam sat propped against the stone, his head drooping sideways and his breathing heavy. In his lap lay Frodo's head, drowned deep in sleep; upon his white forehead lay one of Sam's brown hands, and the other lay softly upon his master's breast. Peace was in both their faces." I… I just… you guys…. I JUST CAN'T. This is too much. I can't deal with how much they love each other. And then Gollum touches Frodo and you just KNOW he wishes that he were a creature capable of love… but he isn't, except for his love of the Ring, and that is less love than a fiery consumption and obsession. IT MAKES ME SO SAD YOU GUYS. But Frodo and Sam….. I can see how people could easily ship them because of scenes like this, but honestly, it just makes my heart break to see how deeply and purely they love each other, because without each other, neither of them would have made it this far. There is no Sam without Frodo, and there is no Frodo without Sam. That's just the way it is. And if you ask me, the entire world could take a lesson from them about the right way to love someone.

    • flootzavut says:

      "the famousest of the hobbits"


      and all my creys this chapter is tooooo much…

      "But Frodo and Sam….. I can see how people could easily ship them because of scenes like this, but honestly, it just makes my heart break to see how deeply and purely they love each other, because without each other, neither of them would have made it this far. There is no Sam without Frodo, and there is no Frodo without Sam. That's just the way it is. And if you ask me, the entire world could take a lesson from them about the right way to love someone."

      This may just be the most beautiful thing I've read this year.

    • JustMalyn says:

      Sam and Frodo's love just makes me eternally happy inside. I don't even care what sort of love it is, it's so pure and beautiful <3

    • Kiryn says:

      Those Frodo and Sam moments…I just read this chapter a few hours ago, and I legit cried while reading it. Like, full on tears streaming down my face. And that's the first time that I've cried during this reading. Fuck, man. Just…fuck you, Tolkien. You troll. Don't put in moments like this, because I know that you're just going to RUIN IT. And yeah. That last scene was just about the shippiest thing I've ever read, and I honestly can't believe that I kind of skipped over it the first time I read this book (then again, that was about ten years ago now, and I didn't pick up a lot of clue bats when it came to shipping, shall we say).

      Gollum has the rest of my tears in this chapter. Oh, and Faramir. FUCK YOU, LORD OF THE RIDERS, DON'T YOU FUCK WITH MY FARAMIR. :/

    • monkeybutter says:

      And then, they make it up the first set, and Gollum's all " HAHA oh yeah that was the EASY one guys, the HARDER, LONGER one is coming up now, let's go!" I'm telling you, I would have given up then and there and just laid down and DIED.

      Same. Actually, who am I kidding? I would have chucked the whole mission long ago, and used the ring to take over the world with my army of talking ponies. Or maybe the troglodyte path à la Gollum. Probably definitely that one.

      As for your happy thoughts: yes. A thousand times yes. Perfectly stated.

    • settledforhistory says:

      "And so Gollum found them hours later… Sam sat propped against the stone, his head drooping sideways and his breathing heavy. In his lap lay Frodo's head, drowned deep in sleep; upon his white forehead lay one of Sam's brown hands, and the other lay softly upon his master's breast. Peace was in both their faces."

      I felt like I might melt into a a puddle of sweet sweet goo while readings this unbelievably nice passage of cute. I wanted a Sam of my own the first time I read about him, but now I know I could never separate him from Frodo.
      I wouldn't mind shipping them, though I actually prefer them as friends. There love is so pure, it's like they are soulmates, two pices of a puzzle of cute kittens or puppies.

      Tolkien is going to ruin this, isn't he? I'm scared, this is just to beautiful to last.

    • blossomingpeach says:

      "*Things in this chapter that make me feel like there is a dementor giving me a hug*"

      Chocolate all around? Seems like it's the only cure.

  2. Becky_J_ says:

    Movie stuff: Gurer ner …. bxnl, V jnf tbvat gb fnl guerr fprarf, ohg yrg'f or ubarfg, vg'f JNL zber guna gung… gurer ner n GBA bs fprarf gung znxr zr pel va gur zbivrf, ohg guerr bs gurz orybat gb Fnz. Bar vf jura ur fjvzf bhg gb Sebqb ng gur oernxvat bs gur sryybjfuvc, bar vf gur fcrrpu ur tvirf gb Sebqb va Tbaqbe jura gur Jenvgu vf nobhg gb svaq gurz, nobhg univat fbzrguvat jbegu svtugvat sbe, naq gur guveq vf guvf fprar…. jura gurl ner jnyxvat guebhtu gur sberfg naq Fnz vf gnyxvat nobhg gur gnyrf gung jvyy or gbyq, naq Sebqb gheaf nebhaq naq fnlf gung ur jbhyqa'g unir tbggra sne jvgubhg Fnz. Jura Fnz fnlf "Abj, qba'g znxr sha, Ze. Sebqb, V jnf orvat frevbhf" naq Sebqb fnlf "Fb jnf V," gur ybbx ba Sebqb'f snpr vf whfg fb shyy bs srryvat naq V PNA'G UNAQYR VG. Lbh whfg xabj gung gurer vf ab orggre jnl sbe uvz gb gryy Fnz "gunax lbh" naq "V ybir lbh" guna gung.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Vg'f cerggl shaal gb urne Sena naq Cuvyyvcn gnyx nobhg jevgvat gur "Fnz ng gur jvaqbj" fprar. Gurl tbg gb gur yvar "Jung ner jr ubyqvat bagb, Fnz?" naq gura npghnyyl unq gb fgbc sbe n srj qnlf nf gurl enpxrq gurve oenvaf gelvat gb nafjre gurve bja dhrfgvba.

    • flootzavut says:

      Lrf – Ryvwnu qvq fbzr ornhgvshy jbex gurer. Vg znxrf zl rlrf yrnx whfg guvaxvat nobhg vg.

    • Kiryn says:

      V zbfg qrsvavgryl pel ng gubfr fprarf gbb, rfcrpvnyyl gur frpbaq bar. Gurer ner gjb bgure fprarf gung V NYJNLF pel ng, naq gubfr ner jura Gurbqra oernxf qbja pelvat va sebag bs uvf fba'f tenir, naq jura Cvccva fvatf gung fbat nf Qrargube rngf naq Snenzve yrnqf gung qbbzrq punetr. Bu, naq jura Qrargube gryyf Snenzve gung ur jvfurq ur unq qvrq va Obebzve'f cynpr. HTU.

      Fcrnxvat bs gung ynfg fprar lbh jrer gnyxvat nobhg, gubhtu, V'ir whfg tbg gb fnl gung "Fnzjvfr gur Oenir" vf zl SNIBEVGR fbat bhg bs gur ragver YBGE genpx. Yvxr…jurarire vg fgnegf gb cynl, V vafgnagyl pnyz qbja naq fgneg srryvat orggre, ab znggre jung zbbq V'z va. Vg'f ornhgvshy.

      • blossomingpeach says:

        "Fcrnxvat bs gung ynfg fprar lbh jrer gnyxvat nobhg, gubhtu, V'ir whfg tbg gb fnl gung "Fnzjvfr gur Oenir" vf zl SNIBEVGR fbat bhg bs gur ragver YBGE genpx. Yvxr…jurarire vg fgnegf gb cynl, V vafgnagyl pnyz qbja naq fgneg srryvat orggre, ab znggre jung zbbq V'z va. Vg'f ornhgvshy. "

        Whfg yvxr Fnz uvzfrys! Ubj nccebcevngr 🙂

      • flootzavut says:



  3. Becky_J_ says:

    OH. I forgot to mention how creepy Gollum is in this chapter! I mean, he's ALWAYS creepy, and he is a little bit cute sometimes, but there are just some sketchy lines he has in this chapter. IF you get through the tunnel?? They made it across Middle Earth, through Moria, and up a whole lot of stairs…. WHY IS A SINGLE TUNNEL GOING TO BE A PROBLEM. no thank you no thank you NO THANK YOU.

    creepy cat-Gollum is creepy
    <img src=""&gt;

  4. Jenny_M says:

    fb rira vs ur cynaf ba orgenlvat Sebqb ng gur ynfg zvahgr, ur’f pregnvayl abg qbvat vg abj. V ubcr V qba’g erterg glcvat gung.


  5. knut_knut says:

    OH MY GOD THIS CHAPTER. EVERYTHING IS REALLY INTENSE AND FUCKED UP AND I LOVE IT. I completely forgot Minas Morgul had that rotating tower on top. What’s controlling that tower? What’s in it??? [Movie Spoilers] V ybir guvf cneg bs gur zbivr. Zvanf Zbethy vf whfg nf hafrggyvat ba fperra nf vg jnf va gur obbx. NAQ GUBFR FGNVEF! Fgenvtug hc gur jnyy, aneebj, naq jrg. Vg znxrf zr areibhf whfg jngpuvat gur uboovgf pyvzo gurz.

    It took his hand, and as Frodo watched with his mind, not willing it but in suspense (as if he looked on some old story far away), it moved the hand inch by inch towards the chain upon his neck.
    THIS IS THE MOST TERRIFYING THING EVER. The fact that Frodo is aware that it is happening but is completely helpless is what scares me the most.

    Yea, that part at the end with Gollum…ALL THE TEARS. I feel so bad for him and I wonder what would have happened if Sam didn’t jump the gun and accidentally ruin the moment.

    • flootzavut says:


    • Kiryn says:

      Frevbhfyl, V qb jbaqre jung jbhyq unir unccrarq vs Fnz unqa'g jbxra hc. V'z cerggl fher gung jura Tbyyhz jnf njnl, ur jnf gnyxvat jvgu Furybo, evtug? Fb jura ur ernpurq bhg gb Sebqb yvxr gung, V vagrecergrq vg nf uvz npghnyyl srryvat erzbefr sbe jung ur'q qbar, naq znlor vg jnf rira bar ynfg punapr gb pbaivapr uvzfrys gb abg tb guebhtu jvgu vg. Naq gura Fnz jnxrf hc naq onfvpnyyl ehvaf rirelguvat, naq gura Tbyyhz'f nyy guvaxvat, "Bu, lrnu. Abj V erzrzore jul V'z nobhg gb srrq lbh thlf gb n tvnag fcvqre."

      Gubhtu, V qb xvaq bs unir gb ynhtu ng Tbyyhz naq Fnz'f rkpunatr. FARNXVAT. Rira gubhtu vg svyyrq zr jvgu VAGRAFR QERNQ, vg nyfb jnf cerggl qnza shaal. Rira vs vg'f ernyyl whfg n ceryhqr gb NJSHYARFF.

      • sixth_queen says:

        Lrf. Guvf vf rkcyvpvgl fgngrq va Nccraqvk O Gur Gnyr bs Lrnef (Fvkgu bs Znepu???), gung "Tbyyhz ivfvgf Furybo ohg nyzbfg ercragf."

    • Atrus says:

      From letter #246:
      "Sbe zr, creuncf gur zbfg gentvp zbzrag va gur Gnyr pbzrf va VV 323 ss. jura Fnz snvyf gb abgr gur pbzcyrgr punatr va Tbyyhz'f gbar naq nfcrpg. 'Abguvat, abguvat', fnvq Tbyyhz fbsgyl. 'Avpr znfgre!'. Uvf ercragnapr vf oyvtugrq naq nyy Sebqb'f cvgl vf (va n frafr) jnfgrq. Furybo'f ynve orpnzr varivgnoyr.

      Guvf vf qhr, bs pbhefr gb gur 'ybtvp bs gur fgbel'. Fnz pbhyq uneqyl unir npgrq qvssreragyl. (Ur qvq ernpu gur cbvag bs cvgl ng ynfg (VVV 221-222) ohg sbe gur tbbq bs Tbyyhz gbb yngr. Vs ur unq, jung pbhyq gura unir unccrarq? Gur pbhefr bs gur ragel vagb Zbeqbe naq gur fgehttyr gb ernpu Zbhag Qbbz jbhyq unir orra qvssrerag, naq fb jbhyq gur raqvat. Gur vagrerfg jbhyq unir fuvsgrq gb Tbyyhz, V guvax, naq gur onggyr gung jbhyq unir tbar ba orgjrra uvf ercragnapr naq uvf arj ybir ba bar fvqr naq gur Evat. Gubhtu gur ybir jbhyq unir orra fgeratugrarq qnvyl vg pbhyq abg unir jerfgrq gur znfgrel sebz gur Evat. V guvax gung va fbzr dhrre gjvfgrq naq cvgvnoyr jnl Tbyyhz jbhyq unir gevrq (abg znlor jvgu pbafpvbhf qrfvta) gb fngvfsl obgu. Pregnvayl ng fbzr cbvag abg ybat orsber gur raq ur jbhyq unir fgbyra gur Evat be gnxra vg ol ivbyrapr (nf ur qbrf va gur npghny Gnyr). Ohg 'cbffrffvba' fngvfsvrq, V guvax ur jbhyq gura unir fnpevsvprq uvzfrys sbe Sebqb'f fnxr naq unir ibyhagnevyl pnfg uvzfrys vagb gur svrel nolff.

      V guvax gung na rssbeg bs uvf cnegvny ertrarengvba ol ybir jbhyq unir orra n pyrnere ivfvba jura ur pynvzrq gur Evat. Ur jbhyq unir creprvirq gur rivy bs Fnheba, naq fhqqrayl ernyvmrq gung ur pbhyq abg hfr gur Evat naq unq abg gur fgeratgu be fgngher gb xrrc vg va Fnheba'f qrfcvgr: gur bayl jnl gb xrrc vg naq uheg Fnheba jnf gb qrfgebl vg naq uvzfrys gbtrgure – naq va n synfu ur znl unir frra gung guvf jbhyq nyfb or gur terngrfg freivpr gb Sebqb."

      That's at the same time comforting and so damn depressing.

      • DrummerWench says:

        Oh, Tolkien! Jevgva' lbhe bja NH snasvpgvba!

      • blossomingpeach says:

        Jbj. Gunaxf sbe cbfgvat guvf. Jura V svefg fgnegrq ernqvat, V gubhtug Gbyxvra jnf tbvat gb znxr gur cbvag gung jvgubhg Fnz'f zvfgnxr, gurer jbhyqa'g unir orra Furybo, ohg gurer nyfb jbhyqa'g unir orra Tbyyhz ng Zbhag Qbbz gelvat gb trg gur evat njnl. Gura V xrcg ernqvat. Ubj gentvp gb vzntvar "jung zvtug unir orra" vs Fnz unq npgrq qvssreragyl: Tbyyhz zvtug unir orra erqrrzrq, va uvf bja jnl. N yrffba gb hf gb whqtr rnpu bgure yrff unefuyl, rira jura vg qrsvrf ernfba?

      • Cereus says:

        Jbj. Gunax Lbh. Guvf vf na nygreangr punenpgre vagrecergngvba gung fgvyy jbexf, gbb (rira jvguva gur fgbel nf vg npghnyyl unccrarq). Juvyr jr fgvyy unir Furybo – V pna nyzbfg frr Tbyyhz'f jvyq qnapvat jvgu gur evat ng Zg. Qbbz nf n "Ynfg qnapr" jvgu uvf "Cerpvbhf" orsber ur qbrf jung ur unf gb qb.


      • sudden_eyes says:

        Thank you!

      • castlewayjay says:

        Love that Tolkien letter & what it says! Love it!

      • Wheelrider says:

        Wow… an incidental stab in the heart.
        Reminds me to pick up a copy of Letters!

      • Becky_J_ says:

        Bu. Jbj. Guvf vf fb urnegoernxvat, gunax lbh sbe funevat. Bsgra gvzrf, V urne bs nygreangr raqvatf gung nhgubef gubhtug bs naq V nz FB TYNQ gurl qvqa'g jevgr vg gung jnl… ohg guvf bar, V pbhyq unaqyr. V jbhyq pel fbbbb uneq vs Tbyyhz fgbyr gur evat naq guerj uvzfrys va gur sver obgu sbe gur ybir bs gur Evat naq gur ybir bs Sebqb. V nz nyjnlf fnq nobhg gur Tbyyhz fgbelyvar, orpnhfr gur zbfg urnegoernxvat punenpgref ner abg gur barf jub bayl unir rivy… gurl ner gur barf va jubz lbh pna frr gur tbbq, vg'f nyzbfg gurer, ohg gura vg ybfrf bhg naq gurl ner ybfg. Tbyyhz vf gur cresrpg rknzcyr bs guvf, naq V jvfu ur pbhyq or fnirq.

      • Tul says:

        OMG Now I know I absolutely must own those letters! Thanks so much for posting this!

        Lbh xabj, V guvax V ernyyl jbhyq unir yvxrq gung nygreangr raqvat – vg jbhyq unir orra fb zhpu zber urnegoernxvat gb unir Tbyyhz qrfgebl uvzfrys naq gur Evat obgu sbe ybir bs Sebqb, ohg nyfb zber fngvfslvat sbe zr va gur raq (creuncf). Vg jbhyq unir znqr Sebqb'f cvgl jbegu vg. Be engure "rira zber jbegu vg", orpnhfr cvgl vf arire jnfgrq V fhccbfr.

        Abg gung V qba'g yvxr *guvf* raqvat!

    • Katarina_H says:

      My heart breaks for Gollum in this chapter. There was a literary critic (I've forgotten her name) who phrased it as Gollum being at the same time thoroughly corrupted and very close to salvation. That scene showcases this more than anything, with the gleam in his eyes going out and then returning, and the change in his appearance from very old hobbit to spider-like. Sberfunqbjvat ntnva, Gbyxvra!

    • Tim says:

      I'm pretty sure there's a rotating restaurant up there. Or at least there was in the early eighties.

  6. castlewayjay says:

    That moment – that moment when Gollum reaches out to touch Frodo… Gah, what a moment. makes me cry every time. Pbhyq Tbyyhz unir orra "fnirq"? Pbhyq ur unir ghearq njnl sebz uvf orgenlny vs Fnz unq abg orra fb noehcg jvgu uvz?…

    • Laurelluin says:

      V'ir nyjnlf gubhtug gung cneg bs gur cbvag bs gung fprar jnf gung Fzrntby pbhyq unir orra fnirq vs Fnz unqa'g whzcrq ba uvf pnfr ng gung zbzrag. Gung ur'q unir punatrq uvf zvaq nobhg yrnqvat gurz gb Furybo.

      Ohg znlor gur Evat jbhyq unir birepbzr uvz naljnl, rira nsgre ur qrpvqrq gb uryc avpr uboovgf. Vs Fnz unq orra avpr gb uvz. Jr'yy arire xabj, orpnhfr Fnz jnf abg avpr gb cbbe Fzrntby, abg avpr ng nyy. Anfgl fhfcvpvbhf uboovg.

      Zr, V yvxr Fnz, ohg vs ur qbrf unir synjf V guvax uvf haoraqvat qvfgehfg bs Fzrntby vf vaqvpngvir bs uvf ovttrfg bar. Krabcubovn be fbzrguvat.

    • Majc says:

      See thread started by Knut Knut directly above your comment.

  7. Ryan Lohner says:

    Samwise the Stouthearted. And we get just enough of a reminder about the deep friendship between the hobbits, that first convinced Sam, Merry, and Pippin to ambush Frodo and announce they were going with him way back when.

    Oh, and "Sneaking!" Gollum suddenly becomes a bratty kid who hears a word he doesn't like and absolutely refuses to let it go. Another sign of why Andy Serikis jumped at the chance to play him once he'd read the books.

    • Kudz says:

      Yeah, how dare Gollum snark back after Sam a) completely misinterpreted why he was touching Frodo and b) yelled at him for it. What a monster. </sarcasm>

      • stormwreath says:

        What a monster.

        Gb or snve, ur *unf* whfg orra gb gryy Furybo gung ur'f oevatvat qvaare sbe ure…

        • Kudz says:

          Zvffvat gur cbvag – gur uboovgf qba'g xabj gung, naq V jbhyq nethr gung Fnz'f gerngzrag bs Tbyyhz, cerqvpngrq ba gur nffhzcgvba gung Tbyyhz vf nyjnlf, va rirel fvghngvba, "hc gb ab tbbq," vf cneg bs jung frgf hc gur orgenlny arkg puncgre.

    • Laurelluin says:

      I laughed so heard when I read Smeagol's reaction to the word "sneaking." Almost as hard as I laughed at his refusal to go grubbing about for rootses and carrotses and taters 3 or 4 chapters ago.

  8. plaidpants says:

    Oh this chapter. Its at the same time frightening and terrifying, and yet filled with some beautiful passages on the strong connection between Frodo and Sam, and their love, respect, and admiration for each other. The image of Sam and Frodo falling asleep together, intertwined, is a great one. Plus you can really see here how much Frodo has relied on Sam, and how Sam doesn't really understand his importance in this story.

    Movie spoilers: Bar bs zl ovttrfg ceboyrzf jvgu gur zbivr vf univat Sebqb fraq Fnz njnl. V haqrefgnaq jul gurl qvq gung, V haqrefgnaq engpurgvat hc grafvba naq znxvat Fnz'f erghea fb urebvp, ohg vg whfg tbrf ntnvafg jung gurve ragver cybgyvar unq orra tbvat gb. V qba'g xabj, vgf whfg bar punatr gung qvq obgure zr.

    • SGC51 says:

      Va gur QIQ rkgenf gurl gnyxrq nobhg gung qrpvqrq gb fraq Fnz njnl orpnhfr Tbyyhz jnf npgviryl gelvat gb cynl gur gjb ntnvafg rnpu bgure naq vs Fnz qvqa'g yrnir gurer jnf ab erny cnl bss gb uvf npgvbaf. Gurl jnagrq Sebqb gb ragre Furybo'f ynve nybar. Cyhf vg qbrf znxr vg n yvggyr zber qenzngvp..

    • Nerdfoxy says:

      Movie Stuff:
      Lrf, V ernyyl, ernyyl qvfyvxrq vg. V nyfb ernyyl qvfyvxrq gung gurl unq Snenzve snyy sbe gur evat sbe n juvyr. Obgu bs gubfr ernyyl obgurerq zr. Gurl frrzrq yvxr ernyyl pber punenpgre zbgvingvba punatrf.

      V qb trg gung "abg zhpu unccraf" va gurfr puncgref, ohg bbu, jul qvq gurl unir gb punatr gubfr guvatf? Jura gur zbivrf pnzr bhg, V nyzbfg jnyxrq bhg bs gur gurngre! Zl cnegare ng gur gvzr jnf nyfb n uhtr sna bs gur obbxf naq jr jrer fb pbashfrq.

      And Sam, I love him. Though I really want a version of the book where Sam doesn't call Frodo "master" it really bothers me and seems so classist. I think they are equals and they are in this together because they have equal stakes in this horror and equal (though different) skills they both need. And yet because of the class they were born into, Frodo is always Master and Sam Servant.

      I mention this here, because I don't like how it sometimes it makes me question their love for each other, certainly in Britain at the time, Master and Servant was a pretty messed up relationship. However, I suppose that "gardeners are held in high esteem" in the Shire, but I can't help that this language throws me out of the story.

      • plaidpants says:

        Lrn, vgf bar bs gubfr guvatf jurer V gbgnyyl qb haqrefgnaq jul gurl punatrq vg, V trg gurve ernfbavatf, V fgvyy whfg qba'g yvxr vg. V guvax gurve obaq va fgebatre jura jr frr gung ab znggre ubj uneq Tbyyhz gevrq, ur pbhyqa'g frcnengr gurz.

      • Atrus says:

        As modern readers, we don't have to like the fact that there are class divisions in the Shire (and Middle-earth in general). At the same time, it's a fact of Hobbit society and it reflects the British society that Tolkien modelled the Hobbits upon. Removing that relationship would also remove a lot of the historical layer that Tolkien imbued into his work.
        Sam certainly takes a great pride in working for the Baggins' household and he probably would not be happy if you took that away from him, just like an old-style butler would think you mad if you told him he'd be better not working for the Earl of Whateverplace.

        If anything, the fact that we have a king, a bourgeois and a gardener working together, becoming friends and essentially being on the same level is, for me, reason enough NOT to sanitize LotR with modern sensibilities. It shows how Tolkien and, by reflection, his society were moving away from the past and into the future.

        Let's also not forget that Fnz orpbzrf Znlbe! Pynff pna or birepbzr va Uboovg fbpvrgl!

        (And while class differences are surely messed up, let's not pretend we don't have them now. They're just based on money and ownership rather than titles and birthright.)

      • Katarina_H says:

        Re: master, the lit critic I can't remember the name of claimed that "Sam calls Frodo 'master' so often it makes me want to start the Hobbit Liberation Front." I always think of that whenever I read the book and encounter another one of those moments. "Right, Sam. You, me, a conversation about the subjugation of the working classes. Now."

      • wahlee says:

        I wrote my master's thesis on the LotR, and posited that the abundance of Master/Servant relationships in the novel reflect Tolkien's Catholicism, which is of course extremely hierarchical. I belong to a religion with a hierarchical structure myself, and looking at Frodo and Sam (and all the other relationships where one person is a Lord and Master over another, like, for example, Eomer and Theoden, or Faramir and Denethor, or Wormtongue and Theoden, or lots of other spoilery ones) through that lens rather than a class system makes so much sense to me. Tolkien's portrayal of Sam and Frodo as both Master/Servant AND the best of friends, who can have a loving relationship as equals, is as much a reflection of his religion as of the British class system.

        • rabidsamfan says:

          I think that Sam is much more liegeman to Frodo than servant, but the whole use of "Master" in the book is a bit complicated. Elrond is called "master" by Sam at least once, but I can't remember anyone using the word much before Rivendell.

          Gah, more research is called for…

          • wahlee says:

            I didn't distinguish between a "master" and a "liege-lord," but you're right that there is definitely an element of reciprocal responsibilities and benefits between Frodo and Sam that you usually associate with a lord/liege-man type relationship, but is certainly present in a more simplistic and modern master/servant relationship as well. Just to pitch out an example, Mr. Darcy in Pride and Prejudice feels an obligation to take care of his tenants and servants (and his kindness to them is one of the things that convinces Elizabeth that he truly is a good man), and his housekeeper especially obviously thinks very highly of him, praising him as she would a favored son. Servants who grew old serving one family could usually expect to receive a pension and a place to live when they could no longer work (much like the Gaffer, living in Bagshot Row, obviously did with Frodo), and often received legacies in their master's wills. The servants were expected to be loyal to those they served, yes, but the masters were also expected to be loyal to the servants as well, if they served well and faithfully. The Master/Servant relationship is simply a different animal than, say, the modern relationship between an employee and his employer; and most of us, especially we egalitarian Americans, have a hard time even understanding it, let alone relating to it.

            • rabidsamfan says:

              Gehr. Cvccva naq Zreel obgu tvir bnguf bs srnygl, bar gb Qrargube naq bar gb Gurbqra, naq raq hc freivat ng gnoyrf, naq gurl'er obgu nf pybfr gb abovyvgl nf uboovgf trg. Ohg Fnz arire arrqrq gb qb nalguvat gung sbezny. Ur whfg tbrf sebz tneqrare gb uboovg-bs-nyy-jbex gb fbzrguvat sne zber pbzcyvpngrq naq arprffnel jvgubhg rire pnyyvat vg nalguvat ohg ybir.

    • Abg tbaan yvr, V ungr gung fprar jvgu n entvat svrel cnffvba, naq guvax vg jnf gur jbefg vqrn naq punatr gb gur cybg gur jevgref znqr. Rira jbefr guna Snenzve, V guvax. Vg znxrf ab frafr sbe Sebqb gb qb guvf ng guvf cbvag naq gvzr. Sbe bar guvat, ur jbhyq arire gnxr Tbyyhz'f jbeq bire Fnz'f, ur jbhyq xabj gung Fnz jbhyqa'g qb nalguvat yvxr jung Tbyyhz npphfrq bs qbvat, naq rira vs ol fbzr ubeevoyr zbzrag bs BBParff ur qvq oryvrir gubfr guvatf, V ershfr gb guvax ur jbhyq rire unir frag Fnz gb gerx onpx ubzr ol uvzfrys jura gurl'er evtug ba gur sbbgfgrcf bs sernxvat Zbeqbe. Gur zbivr pubfr gb tb sbe purnc qenzn engure guna fubjvat gur gehr fgeratgu bs Sebqb naq Fnz'f sevraqfuvc, naq guvf svyyf zr jvgu entr rirel fvatyr gvzr. V pnaabg jngpu guvf fprar orpnhfr V graq gb fgneg fubhgvat ng gur fperra sbe obgpuvat naq pbzcyrgryl zvfhaqrefgnaqvat zl snibevgr punenpgre.

      GY;QE- gung fprar trgf zl areqentr sylvat yvxr ab bgure. Fbeel sbe gur enag 🙂

      • plaidpants says:

        Unun ab ncbybtvrf sbe gur enag ner arprffnel! V yvxr gung bguref qvfyvxr guvf punatr nf zhpu nf V qb. 🙂

      • Tul says:

        V fb nterr! Vs gurl jnagrq gb nqq qenzngvp grafvba (juvpu frrzf gbgnyyl haarprffnel va n cybg jvgu nyernql fb zhpu qenzngvp grafvba – gurl pbhyq unir jbexrq ba jung gurl nyernql unir vafgrnq bs vairagvat arj guvatf naq obgpuvat rirelguvat), gurl pbhyq unir qbar vg ol hfvat bgure jnlf. Perngr bofgnpyrf gurl jbhyq unir gb birepbzr, guvatf yvxr gung. V'q gnxr cerggl zhpu nalguvat bire gur qrfgehpgvba bs punenpgref.

        Naq V ernyyl yvxr Sebqb.

  9. Dreamflower says:

    Yes, that lovely conversation about story, and adventure– you are right, very meta! And then the part about people's parts in them coming to an end…

    This particular part really struck me this time:

    "Frodo stirred. And suddenly his heart went out to Faramir. 'The storm has burst at last,' he thought. 'This great array of spears and swords is going to Osgiliath. Will Faramir get across in time? He guessed it, but did he know the hour? And who now can hold the fords when the King of the None Riders comes? And other armies will come I am too late. All is lost, I tarried on the way. All is lost. Even if my errand is performed, no one will ever know. There will be no one I can tell. It will be in vain.' Overcome with weakness, he wept."

    Poor Frodo, so burdened already with guilt and fear, and he takes this time to worry about Faramir. He's feeling guilty because he's taken so long, and on top of his own fear of all that may yet await him, he spends fear for others as well. I just want to pick him up and hug him!

    • castlewayjay says:

      Sebqb, nyernql oheqrarq jvgu thvyg – V guvax uvf rabezbhf thvyg ol gur raq vf bar gur ernfbaf ur unf gb yrnir Zvqqyr Rnegu gb svaq crnpr.

      • Dreamflower says:

        Bu zbfg pregnvayl: thvyg gung ur pynvzrq gur Evat; thvyg bire Tbyyhz tbvat vagb gur sver; thvyg bire gubfr jub qvrq va gur rssbeg gb nvq uvf Dhrfg; thvyg bire nyy uvf pbzcnavbaf jrag guebhtu; thvyg bire gur Fuver'f arrq bs fpbhevat, naq uvf vanovyvgl gb xrrc vg fnsr…

        Bs pbhefr, ur gehyl jnf abg erfcbafvoyr sbe zbfg bs gur guvatf ur sryg thvygl nobhg, ohg gung'f n cneg bs jung ur jrag guebhtu. Naq vg'f cneg bs jul ur unq gb svaq urnyvat.

    • Tul says:

      Oh yes! That part is really heartbreaking!

      Frodo is so selfless here, and he puts even more pressure and burden on himself than he already has. Just stop! Stop it right there and then! That guilt he's feeling, it really is no good for him – he should never put the blame on himself when there was really nothing more he could do. Nobody should.

      (Still, I can't help feeling all warm over the fact he's come to care about Faramir so much in so little time!)

  10. flootzavut says:

    "V nz whfg thrffvat gung Gur Gjb Gbjref vf tbvat gb raq ba n ubeevsvp pyvssunatre, bxnl?"

    Vg'f fb phgr jura Znex guvaxf ur'f orvat cercnerq. Ur'f fb evtug, naq fgvyy FB hacercnerq 😀

    I really love the discussion about being in a tale – it's really beautiful, and very meta!

    Nyfb vg erzvaqf zr ntnva gung Sebqb vf ernyyl gur nhgube urer, naq uvf nqbengvba bs Fnz znxrf zr unccl. Fnzjvfr gur Oenir <3

    Your unpreparedness is still soooooo epic, Mark. You have no idea.

  11. There’s still a third “book” I need to read, and I am just guessing that The Two Towers is going to end on a horrific cliffhanger, okay?

    Over the last few days and reading all of your reactions to each chapter, I've been pretty much thinking "OH MAN, MARK HAS A WHOLE OTHER BOOK STILL TO READ." That's a whole lot of unpreparedness.

  12. TheFormerAstronomer says:

    Gurer’f fgvyy n guveq “obbx” V arrq gb ernq, naq V nz whfg thrffvat gung Gur Gjb Gbjref vf tbvat gb raq ba n ubeevsvp pyvssunatre, bxnl?

    UNUNUNUNUNununun, bu cbbe puvyq, lbh unir ab vqrn

  13. rabidsamfan says:

    This chapter is so tense, and exhausting, but it made me smile in a couple of places too. Sam's notion that even Gollum might be all right in a story, and Frodo praising Samwise the Stouthearted. But I laughed out loud toward the end when Sam was confessing that he'd called Gollum a sneak and would soon be regretting his apology. Poor Frodo! Dealing with Sam and Gollum must be like herding snarky teenagers.

  14. Juan says:

    Bu, vfa'g vg fb fnq gung ng gur zbzrag Znex qrpvqrf gb gehfg Tbyyhz, jr ner nyy guvaxvat nobhg uvf orgenlny arkg puncgre.

  15. Saphling says:

    Everything about this chapter is fantastic and terrifying heartbreaking and wonderful all put together. But, in the beautiful part where Frodo and Sam comfort each other and give each other hope by imagining hobbit children begging to be told their story, there is a part that always kind of breaks my heart. It's when Frodo laughs, and the very rocks around them seem to lean closer to the sound, almost yearning towards it, as it was the first sound of laughter in that land since before Sauron came to Middle Earth.


    • plaidpants says:

      t's when Frodo laughs, and the very rocks around them seem to lean closer to the sound, almost yearning towards it, as it was the first sound of laughter in that land since before Sauron came to Middle Earth.

      Ooo I love that depiction of it! I can only imagine how long that land went without any kind of joy or happiness.

  16. Saphling says:

    Mark mentions that, "I like that Tolkien describes this in a way that makes the mountain seem alive, as if it is a living antagonist itself." But that's not true, is it? This was once a beautiful land, full of light and life. The land itself isn't evil, but it has been twisted and corrupted by Sauron's evil for so long that it looks and feels as though there's no good left in it (please see: obvious parallel with Gollum/Smeagol and the evil of the Ring). When Frodo laughs, the very land harkens to it, almost desperately, like an abused pet that clings to the first sign of kindness after having grown accustomed to being hurt.

    • msw188 says:

      Yeah, I was going to mention this in my post, but I got kinda sidetracked into other thoughts. But this is such a magical thing too. I mean, these two are the first to manage to get here and STILL BE ABLE TO HAVE A CONVERSATION THAT INVOLVED LAUGHING. In over a THOUSAND YEARS. Literally! I made a large post a while back on how this is the real difference between good and evil in this book – good has the power to be lighthearted and to love. It is Sam's song about the trolls that makes Frodo feel better on the way to Rivendell. It is Sam's song about oliphaunts that releases him from doubt when deciding between the Black Gate and Gollum's secret way. I believe that this is a very purposeful theme in these books.

  17. Marie the Bookwyrm says:

    Oh, man, Tolkien knows how to twist my heart!
    Frodo & Sam's discussion about being in a story–"You and I, Sam, are still stuck in the worst places of the story, and it is all too likely that some will say at this point: 'Shut the book now, dad; we don't want to read any more.'"
    And the scene where Gollum returns and finds the two hobbits asleep. He seems so sad and pitiful. 🙁

  18. Alice says:

    It's so sad and terible what has become of a once great citadel of Men. And the War has begun. And now I'm worried about the others.The green light in Gollum's eyes gives me the shivers everytime,and I'm afraid that Sam spoiled what seemed to be a true moment of remorse from Gollum. And how about how cute is the scene of Frodo sleeping peacefully in Sam's arms?And that bit of legends and stories brings me close to tears everytime I read it.

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Alan Lee – The Stairs of Cirith Ungol

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Hildebrandt Bros – Ringwraith City

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Darell Sweet – Ascent

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – The Tower of the Moon

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    John Howe – The Endless Stair

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    John Howe – The Lord of the Nazguls

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Angus Mc Priders – Army of Mordor Orcs

    <img src=""width="600"&gt;
    Ted Nasmith – Gollum's Debate (I think this is the first time that Nasmith,doesn't depict the scene quite like in the book :S)

    • Saphling says:

      Wow! John Howe's "The Endless Stair" is probably my favorite depiction of the Tower of the Moon. I love the starkness of it. You can see that it once would've been beautiful, though now the darkness stains it.

      • flootzavut says:

        Vg'f ornhgvshy – lbh pna ernyyl frr va gur zbivrf gung Wbua Ubjr unq n ovt unaq va Zvanf Gvevgu.

        The Nasmith Minas Morgul is almost too pretty: it's as if it's some time ago when it was starting to become evil, but isn't yet.

        • Alice says:

          V guvax va Zvanf Gvevgu gur ovttrfg unaq unq Nyna Yrr.Be nz V jebat?V xabj Ubjr qvq Zvanf Zbethy. Yeah,exactly…like it shines too bright and it's a silver light,maybe like it was when was called The Tower of the Moon

          • flootzavut says:

            No, you're absolutely right – V gubhtug Zvanf Zbethy” ohg jebgr “ZvanfGvevgu” yby. V'z gverq! 🙂

    • monkeybutter says:

      I love the Hildebrandt's Gollum and that they included the malevolent carvings. And I also like John Howe's everything.

      • Alice says:

        I also like "John Howe's everything" and Alan Lee's too :D.I wished to find a pic of the half creature half man thingy that stood at the front of the bridge of Minas Morgul…man,were those creepy.It's funny that Howe wanted some replicas of them at his door :D.

    • gonzoron says:

      Man, every time you post these art round ups, I say a little prayer of thanks that Peter Jackson chose Alan Lee and John Howe for the Movie design team, and not the Hildebrandt Brothers and Darrell Sweet.

      Thankfully, we were spared the Old Man and/or Cabbage Patch hobbits and cartoon devil Gollum in the films!

    • ldwy says:

      Thanks for posting 🙂

    • xpanasonicyouthx says:


    • Becky_J_ says:

      I actually really love Ted Nasmith's "Tower of the Moon." I can see how people might think it's too happy and bright like it would be if it was still the tower of the moon, but there is a slight greenish tint to the glow that makes me think of sickly things, things that live in the very bottom of the ocean, etc. Also, the sky doesn't help. If I came across that, I would NOT think it was a happy place, and I would run as quickly as I could in the other direction.

  19. Tauriel_ says:

    Sorry folks, no Linguistics Corner today (I'm not even sure if there are any new names/phrases in this chapter) – I'm way too busy with work and major refurbishing of my new flat… I'll go over the chapter over the weekend and if there's anything, I'll add it to Monday's LC. 🙂

    • stormwreath says:

      I don't think there are – but tomorrow's chapter and the next one will keep you busy. 🙂

      It might be worth mentioning, especially for people who've not seen the film, that 'Cirith Ungol' is pronounced with a hard 'C' – it's "Kirith" not "Sirith".

  20. monkeybutter says:

    I like this chapter so much more than the last one. I didn't get any of the sense of suspense that you did from "Journey to the Cross-roads," but climbing the stairs of Cirith-Ungol? My god. The sense of dread and heaviness, both in the atmosphere and the characters, that they're living entirely in the moment, thinking only about the next step, the next climb, getting through the pass, creates this lurid sense of doom and I love it. And when they begin to talk about their story, I don't feel like side-eyeing them for talking about how they're in the book, but rather feel this surge of joy that they're considering the future, talking about something greater than the moment they're in. I like the coincidence of Frodo feeling like he's outside of his own body from the dread and pull of the ring, and the two of them happily talking about their own story as outsiders, and their importance to each other. It's a powerful scene, and also a fantastic coping mechanism for the stress they're under.

    Most of all, I just love the scene of them resting together, and the momentary tenderness that Gollum shows them. I wish it could have lasted, and I feel regret that Sam ended the moment in his haste, and that Gollum has been robbed of the opportunity to be an old, doting Hobbit because of the One Ring.

    So many emotions this chapter.

    <img src=""&gt;

    • knut_knut says:

      All the upvotes for LSP!

      I agree, I like this chapter much more than the last one. It has the perfect balance of suspense and tender moments

  21. blossomingpeach says:

    Un un, vg'f gur orfg! V qbhog nalbar arrqf gb hapvcure vg jub unf frra vg bapr. Fb rkpvgrq!!!

  22. Geolojazz says:

    [youtube RiuRXLo1MaM youtube]


    • Becky_J_ says:

      Oh…. Oh goodness. I am going to cry. Why is this song so touching???! GAH. I'm just picturing them walking through this depressing land and singing this and it just being one little moment that keeps them going.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      Man, I need to get this now. *sniffle* That's lovely.

  23. cait0716 says:

    All of the never ending walking and doom and gloom has been getting wearying for me. But I adore Sam and Frodo's conversation about stories. It's just the right amount of meta for me. And Sam's question about whether Gollum would consider himself a hero or a villain served as a nice little reminder that everyone is the hero of his/her own story.

    I also think Tolkien is doing something really interesting in keeping us out of Gollum's mind. He's got this third-person omniscience going which works really well. We get to see things from everyone's point of view at some point or another. We even got a paragraph from the Witch King in this chapter. But we never see inside Gollum's mind. Even the brief bit about him touching Frodo could be told from an outside observer, a passing bird or something. It seems that Gollum is the only character whose thoughts and motivations we don't get to see. And it keeps him a nice little mystery, rather like Snape in Harry Potter (even though we only got the one perspective of that character for most of the story)

    • Becky_J_ says:

      I never realized this…. it does add nice dimension though. I think the fact that we even get the King of the Wraith's view for a little while, as well as all the other characters, almost makes Gollum more human, more unique and special. As if, if only we could get a look in his head, we would know that he is really a good soul trapped by his obsession, unable to shake it, unable to succumb wholly to it, stuck in this awful place.

  24. This chapter is the reason that Frodo and Sam have one of the greatest friendships/partnerships/relationships in all of literature to me. You could use any of those words to describe the bond between them and it would be right to some degree. They've both come so far from when we see them at the beginning of the Fellowship- Sam was frightened and suspicious of going to see Farmer Maggot then. Frodo was concealing everything about his quest and his burden from Merry and Pippin, who at the time were his closest friends. Now he's confiding his thoughts to Sam, and it's so beautiful to see. I think this chapter marks a turning point in their relationship, quite honestly. Up till this point, Sam has been very much Frodo's old gardener, but I think here is where they both show themselves on equal footing. The scene where Sam watches over Frodo while he's asleep never fails to make me tear up because of the level of trust they have with one another. What I like about it most is that it's a quiet trust- not a deep declaration or hammy talk. Just the pair of them ruminating on something that's a deep tradition of Middle-Earth: the telling of tales. They're both caught up in that history now, and they're showing that deep friendship that seems to be a bit of a theme for some of those tales, the little we've heard of them, anyway.

    I always get chills when Frodo points out that here's where someone might want to stop reading. I know when I first read this I was torn between putting the book down because it was so tense and tearing through the rest of the pages because I couldn't bear not knowing what happened. And everything about this chapter makes you feel the suffering the hobbits are going through:
    "I don't like anything here at all," said Frodo. "Step or stone, breath or bone. Earth, air, and water all seem accursed. But so our path is laid."
    Yeah, excuse me while I go and hug them both. And Gollum, oddly. After the passage about him looking like a pitiable hobbit, I think he needs one too.

    • Dreamflower says:

      V guvax gung gubhtu Fnz pbagvahrq gb guvax bs uvzfrys nf cevznevyl Sebqb'f freinag, bapr gurl yrsg gur Fuver– gung Sebqb cebonoyl jbhyq unir gubhtug Fnz jnf npgvat "nobir naq orlbaq", fb gb fcrnx. V guvax gung Sebqb ortna gb guvax bs Fnz nf zber bs n sevraq guna n freinag ng gung cbvag.

    • Becky_J_ says:

      Gbyxvra nqqvat gung ovg nobhg ubj guvf vf jurer gur ernqref jbhyq chg qbja gur obbx vf nyzbfg, gb zr, uvf bja yvggyr jneavat nobhg ubj vs lbh jnag gb fgnl boyvivbhf naq unccl, naq lbh qba'g jnag gb frr ubj njshy guvatf ner nobhg gb trg, lbh fubhyq ernyyl chg gur obbx njnl abj naq ernq ab shegure.

      Abg gung nalbar vf npghnyyl tbvat gb qb gung, naq ur xabjf gung jryy. Uvf bja yvggyr wbxr, vs lbh nfx zr!

      • Vg'f engure uvynevbhf jura lbh guvax nobhg vg- ur'f onfvpnyyl gryyvat lbh fgenvtug-hc "Ubeevoyr guvatf ner pbzvat, rira zl punenpgref xabj guvf vf tbvat gb or uneq gb ernq." Naq nf lbh fnvq… jr fgvyy xrrc ernqvat.

        Bu tbfu, whfg guvaxvat nobhg gbzbeebj vf gheavat zr vagb n zrff. Furybo'f ynve vf bar bs gur zbfg ubeevslvat cynpr ba Zvqqyr-Rnegu- V fjrne zl qrovyvgngvat srne bs gur qnex bevtvangrq sebz ernqvat nobhg vg sne gbb lbhat.

  25. msw188 says:

    Now look here, I've read this book plenty of times. I know what's going to happen and what characters are going to say before they do. But rereading this chapter again last night, I cried. When Frodo touches Galadriel's light and is given the strength to turn the Nazgul Lord's mind aside, he sighs and so do I. There's a momentary relief of tension, and Tolkien fills that gap with despair.

    The sheer thought that all of your effort and labor is futile, that even success will have no meaningful consequence because there will be no one to share in your success with, may be one of the most depressing thoughts ever. And amazingly, Frodo continues, NOT because he realizes he's wrong (he never has a moment when he thinks maybe one of his friends will actually survive), but because he just says FUCK IT. The job is the job; it doesn't matter that it's hopeless and terrible, and it doesn't matter that it, well, might not matter for anyone he knows and cares about. It blows me away every time. (and Frodo imagining Sam telling him his breakfast is ready doesn't help my emotional state either)

    I think this feeling is one that a lot of people go through at some point or other in their lives. Of course, we're usually wrong – there usually are people we care about, and who care about us, who will share in our successes to some degree. But it doesn't always feel this way. I think this is a large part of how depression sets in for many people. And it is a rare person indeed who has the ability to both shrug this feeling off AND continue whatever task they were attempting with the resolve that Frodo does here.

    Of course, this may be because it is rare that a person in this position has a friend as true and beautiful as Samwise Gamgee. I could go on about him, and the rest of this chapter (Gollum's 'moment'? HEARTBREAKING) for a while, but I'll just leave this post with:
    "There’s still a third “book” I need to read, and I am just guessing that The Two Towers is going to end on a horrific cliffhanger, okay?"
    It does feel that way right here, doesn't it? FUUUUUUUUU

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      I'm reminded of Marvel/DC After Hours (awesome, awesome series that you should all watch right now) where Superman prepares to stop Luthor the only way he can, which will also leave himself trapped in a dark void dimension forever. Lex tells him he'll be cursing himself to Hell for something no one will ever know about, and Superman just replies "I'LL know."

    • castlewayjay says:

      I love your post. it sums up a lot of what I felt on this reread of this chapter

    • BetB says:

      I like the commentary on this site. I know that I only have to wait a while and someone will post what I would have written; with the exception that it is usually better written than my usual posts. Thanks for saying this well, especially the second paragraph.

  26. ldwy says:

    I love this chapter, although it is exhausting to read! I love hiking, but stairs are awful. Imagine such a treacherous stairway, just built into the side of a mountain, with little hobbits with little short legs trying to make their muscles just keep going. All the while trying to simply not slip off the edge and fall off a mountain.

    I LOVE Sam and Frodo. They are the best of friends. I know Sam is technically a servant of Frodo's, but you can easily see that their relationship is massively more than this. They care for each other so deeply. LOVE LOVE LOVE them.

  27. floppus says:

    The Spoiler-Free Map of Middle-Earth

    Normal / blurred

    From the Cross-roads, our heroes set off on the road towards Minas Morgul. They find the hidden path that Gollum had mentioned, and follow it around the city and up the Stairs to the mountain pass. (Why are there stairs here, anyway?)

    Also, there's a mysterious tower that Gollum neglected to mention. It's yet another tower that can be interpreted as one of the "Two Towers."

    • blossomingpeach says:

      Goodness, looking at how close Minas Tirith is to Minas Morgul, you can't really blame Boromir for wanting the ring on behalf of Gondor. Can you imagine how scary it would be to be a citizen of Gondor and have Mordor for your scenic view?

      Thanks, as always, for the maps!

    • LadyViridis says:

      Well, we learned back in Fellowship (in Rivendell I think?) that Minas Morgul was originally built as a companion tower to Minas Tirith, and was a fortress and stronghold for Gondor. It was only as the strength of Gondor waned and the power of Mordor resurfaced that the tower was taken over by evil and transformed into Minas Morgul.

      Presumably, the stairs were built however many thousands of years ago for the good guys to get in and out, and then more or less forgotten.

  28. Clare says:

    I think Mark’s one chapter a day habit might actually be helping his opinion of these chapters. I know by this point my thirteen-year-old self had thought “oh my god, they’re STILL WALKING?” and thrown the book across the rroom. Naq jura V erernq V nyjnlf unir gb erfvfg gur grzcgngvba gb fxvc guvf jubyr obbx (be unys-obbx) orpnhfr V ybir gur erfg bs gur Sryybjfuvc’f fgbel fb zhpu zber.

    • Dreamflower says:

      V nyjnlf unir gur grzcgngvba gb fxvc be fxvz guvf cneg sbe gur bccbfvgr ernfba: vg'f fb cnvashy gb frr ubj zhpu uneqre naq urneg-jerapuvat Sebqb naq Fnz'f wbhearl vf va pbzcnevfba. V ybir gur jubyr Sryybjfuvc, ohg gur bguref– va fcvgr bs jne naq onggyrf– unq vg rnfl pbzcnerq gb gurfr gjb!

    • BetB says:

      Yes, still walking. After all, one does not simply walk into Mordor, but you will do immense unrelenting weeks of walking to get there!

  29. sudden_eyes says:

    This chapter always breaks my heart.

    Naq V pna'g oryvrir gung cbbe Znex vf ernqvat gur arkg puncgre ba n Sevqnl, orpnhfr bu, Tbq, GUNG SHPXVAT FCVQRE. Naq NCCNERAGYL QRNQ SEBQB.

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Jryy, ur vf glcvpnyyl ng yrnfg n pbhcyr puncgref nurnq va erny yvsr bs jung ur cbfgf rnpu qnl (gubhtu gurl'er nyy fgvyy jevggra vzzrqvngryl nsgre ernqvat/jngpuvat). Gubhtu gung znl abg uryc zhpu va guvf pnfr…

      • sudden_eyes says:

        True … Ohg va guvf pnfr, nf lbh fnl, V qba'g guvax vg'f tbvat gb uryc bar ovg, fvapr Sebqb'f sngr vf yrsg unatvat ol n guernq bs fcvqre'f fvyx jnnnnl vagb "Gur Erghea bs gur Xvat."

        • CynicalNymph says:

          Quite. I can't wait until….. ur ernyvmrf gung EBGX xrrcf gur erfg bs gur pbzcnal'f fgbevrf va n puhax orsber vg trgf onpx gb Fnz naq Sebqb.

          V srry n yvggyr onq nobhg ubj tyrrshyyl V'z njnvgvat Znex'f ernpgvba gb gung bar.

          • blossomingpeach says:

            Naq gura, vs V erzrzore pbeerpgyl, gur ynfg puncgre bs gur svefg obbx bs EBGX raqf jvgu Cvccva guvaxvat ur'f qlvat va onggyr. Jvfu V unq zl obbx jvgu zr…

            Fb znal pyvssunatref gb ybbx sbejneq gb! *rivy ynhtugre*

            • sudden_eyes says:

              No kidding. Vg'f ubeevoyr, vs lbh qba'g xabj jung'f pbzvat. Cvccva cerggl zhpu qbrf qvr (ntnva, nccneragyl). V pna'g uryc dhbgvat gur cnffntr:

              Gura Cvccva fgnoorq hcjneqf, naq gur jevggra oynqr bs Jrfgrearffr cvreprq guebhtu gur uvqr naq jrag qrrc vagb gur ivgnyf bs gur gebyy, naq uvf oynpx oybbq pnzr thfuvat bhg. Ur gbccyrq sbejneq naq pnzr penfuvat qbja yvxr n snyyvat ebpx, ohelvat gubfr orarngu uvz. Oynpxarff naq fgrapu naq pehfuvat cnva pnzr hcba Cvccva, naq uvf zvaq sryy njnl vagb n terng qnexarff.

              'Fb vg raqf nf V thrffrq vg jbhyq,' uvf gubhtug fnvq, rira nf vg syhggrerq njnl; naq vg ynhturq n yvggyr jvguva uvz rer vg syrq, nyzbfg tnl vg frrzrq gb or pnfgvat bss ng ynfg nyy qbhog naq pner naq srne. Naq gura rira nf vg jvatrq njnl vagb sbetrgshyarff vg urneq ibvprf, naq gurl frrzrq gb or pelvat va fbzr sbetbggra jbeyq sne nobir:

              'Gur Rntyrf ner pbzvat! Gur Rntyrf ner pbzvat!'

              Sbe bar zbzrag zber Cvccva'f gubhtug ubirerq. 'Ovyob!' vg fnvq. 'Ohg ab! Gung pnzr va uvf gnyr, ybat ntb. Guvf vf zl gnyr naq vg vf raqrq abj. Tbbq-olr!' Naq uvf gubhtug syrq sne njnl naq uvf rlrf fnj ab zber.

              SHPXVAT GBYXVRA.

          • Ryan Lohner says:

            Naq gur arkg guvat lbh urne bs Sebqb nsgre Furybo vf gur Zbhgu bs Fnheba fnlvat ur'f qrnq. Vg'f n funzr gur zbivrf jvgu rirelguvat va puebabybtvpny beqre pbhyqa'g qb gung zbzrag.

    • castlewayjay says:

      this chapter breaks my heart too

  30. CynicalNymph says:

    The passage about Gollum just slays me, every time.

    I can't believe we're already near the end of The Two Towers! This is going by so quickly!

  31. Alice says:

    Really? Never knew that.

  32. Alice says:

    Now I got this in my mind too xD

  33. blossomingpeach says:

    "In the eighth chapter of the second book of The Two Towers, HOW MUCH MORE MUST I TOLERATE OF THIS INTENSITY?"

    Oh, I don't know–a whole third book's worth? 😀

    I suppose there's always the possibility that Sauron turns out to be not so bad after all in the next chapter. Maybe he and his interior designer, who's grown tired of black and is looking for a new career, will move into the Shire. Sauron and the Fellowship will live out their days having endless Shire parties with lots of food, drink, and laughter. And puppy dogs prancing in meadows under rainbows. Gollum, of course, will turn out to be a very intelligent, articulate, compassionate sort of fellow wearing a costume just as a joke. He'll move in with Frodo and Sam and the next book will be their adventures as roommates in Bag End, with occasional visits from their colorful neighbors.

    • Kiryn says:

      Sam and Gollum would actually be funny as roommates. They'd still be bickering and squabbling all the time, but without the ENDLESS DREAD, TENSION, AND GLOOM that hangs over them and everything else on the Quest, you know?

      And if I get a request for a neighbor, then make it Elrond, damn it! He hasn't been in these two books enough. :/ Why can't I have a pocket Elrond? Endless sad.

      But anyway, the best neighbors for the Frodo/Sam/Gollum trio would obviously be Legolas and Gimli, after they're done with their honeymoon, of course. 😀

      • blossomingpeach says:

        Tee-hee. Leggy and Gimli should definitely live next door. We can't leave off Gandalf and his endless sass, of course. He needs to be very close by.

        • Kiryn says:

          Gandalf can live on the corner. And then if the Sackville-Bagginses come, he can tell them that THEY CANNOT PASS. 😛

          Aragorn can be that random guy or bum or someone who doesn't live there, but crashes all the time at Gimli and Legolas's house and is somehow BFFs with them. Elrond, Arwen, and the twins can live across the street from Bag End. Merry and Pippin can gate-crash into Frodo/Sam/Gollum's place all the time from Buckland. And then Farmer Maggot can come with them, and he and Gollum can talk all about how queer the folk of Hobbiton are while Sam gives them the stink-eye.

          I….should probably tell my brain to stop imagining this situation now. 😉

    • virtual_monster says:

      Sounds like Lord of the Rings would be if written by PG Wodehouse

    • Dreamflower says:

      I could like this AU. Someone please write if for me!

      • Kiryn says:

        Damn it. Now I actually DO have the urge to write it. *headdesk*

        Ah well, on the slim chance I do go through with it, I'll let you know!

    • Tul says:

      Why not? Hey, who knows all the strange wishes deeply buried within Sauron's heart that may or may not come out again? Maybe…

  34. Wheelrider says:

    It's here I was slightly regretting this slow reading pace… the first part of this chapter is just so fucking scary! Nightmare fuel for sure! Especially to read alone in a dark house. Won't make that mistake again.

    This book is actually a masterful piece of horror — the scary parts end up being all the more terrible because of the contrast with the beautiful, funny, sad, etc. parts. Other horror novels that just pile it on nonstop end up dulling some of the effect (H.P., I'm looking at you). I would have guessed, even before he wrote the Dark Tower series, that Stephen King picked up a lot of technique from LoTR: start off with normal, everyday scenes, a little bit of humor, some weird shit creeps in, and then gradually things get fucked, but there's still some normal bits to contrast the fucked-ness.

    The contrast in this chapter is so sudden and stark it gives you whiplash.
    EDIT: actually, no, the contrast sneaks up on you… it's the resulting emotions that are whiplash-inducing.

  35. Juliana Moreli says:

    I looove this chapter!!!

    So much tension!!!

    Gollum was quite impressive in this chapter…I had to laugh ou really loud (for real) when he starts with the "sneak" thing…uashuahsuhaus…he's really precious…fb sne

    "No food, no rest, nothing for Smeagol" said Gollum " He's a sneak"

    I keep listening Gollum's voice in my mind speaking this line and I just get all the time lololol

    This whole "sneak" dialogue is fantastic!!!

  36. kasiopeia says:

    The stairs are so brutal! And I think that the Frodo back in the Shire would never have gotten up those stairs. I love how much he's changed and evolved as a character. This is a big, terrible adventure, and it's forming him. V nyfb ybir ubj gurl qvq gur fgnvef va gur zbivrf.

    vg'f fgenatr. V'ir ernq guvf obbx ng yrnfg 10 gvzrf, V xabj jung unccraf naq gung vg'yy nyjnlf unccra naq gung Znex unf abguvat gb qb jvgu vg. Ohg jura V ernq guvf yvar: vs ur cynaf ba orgenlvat Sebqb ng gur ynfg zvahgr, ur’f pregnvayl abg qbvat vg abj. V jnf nyy: AB ZNEX! Lbh wvakrq vg, Tbyyhz vf tbvat gb fryy gurz bhg gb n tvnag fcvqre orpnhfr bs lbh. Ubj pbhyq lbh??

    Vg'f yvxr jura lbh jngpu n zbivr ntnva, naq lbh fbzrubj ubcr gurl'ir yrnearq sebz gur ynfg gvzr lbh jngpurq vg naq gung guvf gvzr rirelbar jvyy or svar :C Ohg gurl unira'g.

    • flootzavut says:

      V ybir/ungr gur fgnvef va gur zbivrf, va gung V guvax gurl ner snagnfgvp, ohg gurl fpnevat gur rireyvivat penc bhg bs zr…

  37. feminerdist says:

    Ohhhh bless your heart for your unpreparedness.

  38. Katie says:

    How can you be too busy to do LOTR??!????!!! Was he curing cancer? Or manning the first flight to Mars? Cause these are the only two acceptable excuses I could think of (apart from personal reasons, of course)

    • divAndRule says:

      The whole cast and crew pretty much moved to NZ for a year or something did'nt they, so it was understandable that Ted Nasmith may not have wanted to do that.
      V ybirq gur QIQ rkgenf nobhg ubj Nyna Yrr naq Wbua Ubjr jrer erpehvgrq. Rfcrpvnyyl Wbua Ubjr'f fgbel bs CW naq Sena pnyyvat uvz ng 2 NZ va gur zbeavat naq tvivat uvz na rnearfg fnyrf cvgpu naq ubj ur jnf whfg jnvgvat sbe gurz gb svavfu fb ur pbhyq fnl lrf.

  39. Wheelrider says:

    Oh I almost forgot — the creepiest little tidbit by far, for me, is this line:

    "He knew that the Ring would only betray him, and that he had not, even if he put it on, the power to face the Morgul-king – not yet."

    Not yet. Not YET. So even as Frodo is growing and maturing and getting stronger, that seed of terrible temptation is also growing within him. AAARGH!

    • Tul says:

      Hey I never caught this "yet"!
      So Frodo already isn't unaffected by the Ring's powers, is he? I wonder if all these instances where he had to use it to keep Gollum in check may have helped cause that…

      The other "yet" that creeps me out is the one at the end. 'No, no, not yet,' Gollum whined. 'O no! They can't find the way themselves, can they? O no indeed. There's the tunnel coming. Sméagol must go on. No rest. No food. Not yet.'
      I think it's because it closes the chapter, and the way it's repeated. It left me with an awful feeling of apprehension.

      • Wheelrider says:

        "Yet" is causing a lot of anguish here!

        • ZeynepD says:

          And rightfully. I'd never noticed Frodo's "yet" before this reread either.

          (I had noticed Gollum's, because like Tul says, it's at the end, and it's in relation to talking about this tunnel, that's come up so many times since… Gah, even the word "tunnel" looks unfriendly by this point.)

          (V jnf abg cercnerq, rvgure. Naq V nz nenpuabcubovp. Fb lrnu gung jnf sha.)

  40. Appachu says:

    Gurer’f fgvyy n guveq “obbx” V arrq gb ernq, naq V nz whfg thrffvat gung Gur Gjb Gbjref vf tbvat gb raq ba n ubeevsvp pyvssunatre, bxnl?

    TENNNNU UR QVQ VG NTNVA. Ubyl fuvg Znex, ubj qb lbh xrrc qbvat guvf.

    Also! One more song from the musical! This one – I believe – corresponds to that conversation Frodo and Sam have about stories and whether or not they'll be in one, also known as the one spot of brightness in this entire chapter.

    [youtube odazGzmf_7w&list=PLFD8DDFC203834364&index=34&feature=plpp_video youtube]

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      I didn't even know there was an LOTR musical. I guess I shouldn't be surprised!

      And wow, this is a really lovely song. My heart… you're making me feel things…

      • @rosiejbest says:

        The LOTR musical is really, really surprisingly good. (And apologies if people have raved about it in the comments before and I've missed it but I just have to do it again.) I managed to see it when it was on in London. The plot is (obviously) hugely condensed in some slightly surreal ways but the music is great and the staging was SERIOUSLY INTENSE. Galadriel sings half her first song while suspended upside-down in mid-air. Gollum climbs vertically down the side of the proscenium arch at the end of this song. The Balrog is so huge it's just a giant puppet head and wings and it blows hot air and smoke and sparks* out into the audience.

        I, er, liked it quite a lot.

        *actually red and orange tissue paper but that didn't make it any less intense at the time!

    • Dreamflower says:

      Been waiting all day for peace and quiet to listen to this.

      It's totally beautiful and perfect.

  41. arctic_hare says:

    This chapter fills me with so many conflicting FEELINGS.

    – The stair of Cirith Ungol terrifies the shit out of me. I'd have probably fallen to my doom pretty quickly. I don't like heights, I don't like climbing, I don't like LADDERS, I don't even like stairs all that much. Add in a sheer drop and it being so damn dark, and you have a solid recipe for TERROR. Brrrr.

    – The part with the Wraith-King is also scary as hell. Especially when the Ring starts controlling Frodo so that he begins to reach for the Ring. And he almost puts it on. But thankfully he exerts enough of his own will and grabs the phial that Galadriel gave him (which is a pretty fucking awesome gift, let me tell you).

    – Frodo's guilt over taking so long and his worry over Faramir breaks my heart. 🙁 🙁 🙁 Ohhh, I just want to reach through the pages and give him a big hug.

    There the hobbits took what they expected would be their last meal before they went down into the Nameless Land, maybe the last the meal they would ever eat together NO WHAT ARE YOU DOING STOP SAYING THESE THINGS :'(

    – The whole meta conversation with Sam and Frodo put a smile on my face in the midst of all this doom and gloom and endless sadness. V pbhyqa'g uryc ohg urne "Fnzjvfr gur Oenir" va zl urnq jura V ernq vg. Gung cneg nyjnlf oevatf grnef gb zl rlrf.

    – LOVE the shout-out to the Silmarils and Beren. <3 Naq gb cnencuenfr Fnz, Orera pbhyqa'g unir qbar vg jvgubhg Yhguvra. FUR VF GUNG QNZA NJRFBZR. V ybir gur fgbel bs Rneraqvy'f iblntr, gbb, gubhtu bs pbhefr nal gnyr gung gur Fvyznevyf pbzr vagb vf irel fnq vaqrrq. Ohg lrf, gb tvir Sebqb fbzr bs gung yvtug vf n cerggl nznmvat tvsg.

    – Frodo sleeping in Sam's lap is SO ADORABLE. <3 <3 <3

    – omg Gollum. That description of him looking like an old hobbit is wrenching. And Sam unintentionally ruins it: "The fleeting moment had passed, beyond recall". Oh, if only he'd been able to see that moment. 🙁

    • flootzavut says:

      The stairsare SO AWFUL 😮

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      V'z irel tynq gur pbairefngvba orgjrra Sebqb naq Fnz znqr vg vagb gur zbivr. Vg'f bar bs zl irel snibevgr zbivr zbzragf. Naq V ybir ubj gurl znqr Fnz'f fcrrpu, znqr hc bhg bs jubyr pybgu, gvr ernyyl jbaqreshyyl vagb gung zbzrag, juvpu vf chyyrq fgenvtug sebz gur obbx. Cuvyvccn naq Sena trg synx sbe n ybg bs gurve qrpvfvbaf, naq fbzrgvzrf evtugshyyl fb, ohg V guvax gung ba gur jubyr, gurl qrfreir fb zhpu cebcf. Zhpu cebcf? Znal cebcf? Jungrire.

    • Wheelrider says:

      See, Mark HAS to read the Silmarillion. ^_^

    • Tul says:

      All your points! It's exactly how I feel!

      Except perhaps that I like climbing well enough. NOT *these* steps though!

    • Kiryn says:

      I agree on all of your points, but especially the bit about those GODFORSAKEN STAIRS. I'm the same way as you, and just….UGH. NO THANK YOU. I WOULD NOT.

      *sigh* Frodo, why couldn't you have just tossed the Ring down into the abyss with Gandalf and the Balrog? That'd have been so much easier. And then you wouldn't have to CLIMB.

  42. sporkaganza93 says:

    Gurer’f fgvyy n guveq “obbx” V arrq gb ernq, naq V nz whfg thrffvat gung Gur Gjb Gbjref vf tbvat gb raq ba n ubeevsvp pyvssunatre, bxnl?

    V nz ehoovat zl unaqf tyrrshyyl naq pnpxyvat evtug abj. Bu, Znex, lbh unir ab vqrn.

  43. sudden_eyes says:

    Ooh! Movie stuff: V qba'g guvax nal bs hf unf abgrq gung gur fubg bs Sebqb, Fnz naq Tbyyhz uvqvat oruvaq n ebpx gb jngpu gur Evatjenvguf naq gurve nezl znepu bhg vf fgenvtug bhg bs "Gur Jvmneq bs Bm" (jura gur fbyqvref yrnir gur Jvgpu'f pnfgyr). V ybir gung.

  44. MrsGillianO says:

    V guvax ng guvf cbvag V’z zber vapyvarq gb oryvrir Tbyyhz guna rire orsber.


  45. flootzavut says:

    I know it's not really on topic, as it's the movie extras and RotK, but V nz jngpuvat gur qbphzragnel nobhg gur zhfvp naq BU ZL V whfg ybir fb zhpu bs guvf zhfvp, naq Cvccva/Nejra/Nentbea fvatvat unf zr fvggvat urer va sybbqf. Cvccva'f fbat vf bar bs zl nyy gvzr snibhevgr zbzragf naq V pna'g jnvg sbe Znex gb urne vg. V nyfb ybir Vagb Gur Jrfg.

    • Clare says:

      V jnf yvfgravat gb gur EbgX fbhaqgenpx nf onpxtebhaq zhfvp lrfgreqnl naq vzzrqvngryl unq gb fgbc rirelguvat naq yvfgra jura Cvccva fgnegrq fvatvat.

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      Oh god yes…Vagb gur Jrfg, va gur pbagrkg bs gur raqvat bs gur fgbel rfcrpvnyyl, vf fb gbhpuvat naq urnegoernxvat naq whfg *grnef sberire*… V'ir npghnyyl orra tbvat guebhtu naq yvfgravat gb gur fbhaqgenpxf nf V qevir gb jbex, naq tnuuu…nalgvzr V trg gb genpxf yvxr "Gur Oernxvat bs gur Sryybjfuvc" "Znl vg Or" "Fnzjvfr gur Oenir" "Tbyyhz'f Fbat" (bzt fbbb fnq – pna'g jnvg sbe Znex gb trg gurer naq urne vg qhevat gur perqvgf), "Gur Raq bs Nyy Guvatf" "Gur Terl Uniraf" naq "Vagb gur Jrfg" – nalgvzr V urne gurfr, V pna'g uryc ohg trg fyvtugyl grnel-rlrq. Gur zhfvp bs YbgE vf bar bs gubfr xrl cnegf bs gur zbivrf gung ernyyl znxr gurz jbex. Ubjneq Fuber'f zhfvp whfg svgf fb jryy, V nofbyhgryl ybir vg! <3 <3

  46. GamgeeFest says:

    Oh, some of my favorites passages in the book are in these next few chapters. Here, we have the great talk of tales and stories. *happy sigh* And Frodo falls asleep with his head in Sam's lap. *double happy sigh*

    Gurer’f fgvyy n guveq “obbx” V arrq gb ernq, naq V nz whfg thrffvat gung Gur Gjb Gbjref vf tbvat gb raq ba n ubeevsvp pyvssunatre, bxnl?

    ABBBB! Gbyxvra jbhyq arire qb gung! 😉

    Ng gur irel yrnfg, ur unf n fgebat vagrerfg va xrrcvat gur Evat pybfr ol, fb rira vs ur cynaf ba orgenlvat Sebqb ng gur ynfg zvahgr, ur’f pregnvayl abg qbvat vg abj. V ubcr V qba’g erterg glcvat gung.

    Bu, Znex, lbh ner fb hacercnerq. Lbh'yy svaq bhg jung Tbyyhz jnf hc gb arkg puncgre. Rrc!

  47. Andrew says:

    This is one chapter that's stuck with me vividly in the.. wow, 12 years or so since I read the books. (I keep meaning to reread them and forgetting. :()

    Those goddamn stairs just sounded like the most endless, exhausting shit I'd ever read.

    • Andrew says:

      Also Frodo and Sam's conversation about tales.

      I'm pretty sure when Frodo talks about how they'll tell tales of Samwise is when I subconsciously starting shipping them, before I even knew what shipping was.

    • JustMalyn says:

      Oh God. I know. I was always that kid who FAILED at gym class, so this just hurts me to read. How are they still alive? Oh right, they're hobbits and hobbits are FREAKING AWESOME.

  48. JustMalyn says:

    Vg whfg svgf FB cresrpgyl 🙂 Bu tbfu. Fur'f yvxr Nentbt, bayl 10k fpnevre. "Gur fcvqref! Gurl jnag zr gb gnc qnapr! V qba'g jnaan gncqnapr, Uneel!" "Lbh gryy gubfr fcvqref, Eba." Gung vf cebonoyl zl snibevgr UC fprar…Ohg lrnu, AVTUGZNERF SBERIRE. Srne gur SHEL!

  49. Tul says:

    I find something creepily beautiful about Minas Morgul’s description. In the horrifying – yet so well written it is nearly poetic – way Tolkien presents it to us. The dark surrounding it, the “corpse light” of its walls, how it seems to hypnotize the three companions, then the white bridge with those white flowers and the silent water – this is all extraordinary writing to me, a description using all our senses to create a vivid picture before us and a deep feeling of uneasiness. It is chilling and sort of fascinating. There is just the right dose of everything: horror and mystery, beauty and rottenness, lots of impressiveness and history. That ambiance is killing me!
    One of the best parts is the history, I think. It gives depth to the picture; it adds a feeling of tragedy. This used to be Minas Ithil, the city of the moon, built by the men of Númenor in their golden times. This all used to be good before, and this is how everything else will be if you fail, little hobbits. It illustrates one of the greatest victories of Evil over Good, taking something of great glory and beauty and turning it into some awful thing that inspires fear and disgust. It all makes me think of Faramir’s words, three chapters earlier, of how he loves his White City, and of his story about the fall of her twin sister before leaving Frodo and Sam. How many people used to live here before it was taken by the Nazgûl? How lively was it? How many lords and ladies, how many children lost their home, and how many died with it?
    And the Nazgûl are still magnificent. Frodo’s glimpse of their Lord as he leads his “ghastly host” to war, along with the reminder of his old wound, is terrifying.

    In fact, I admit I really enjoy it all! I really love how evil is treated in this book! It’s perhaps a little masochist, but it gives me lots of feelings and that is one of the primary requirements for me to enjoy a story, be they positive or negative. The Nazgûl and their City will forever be some of the most awesome creations in all fantasy literature as far as I am concerned.

    Apart from that, I really feel for Frodo in this Chapter. It’s just painful to see him struggling to keep on, not having time for rest, and without much hope if at all. Oh and, this passage about how it is all in vain is so heartbreaking! And then, when he smiles grimly and realizes that “what he had to do, he had to do, if he could, and that whether Faramir or Aragorn or Elrond or Galadriel or Gandalf or anyone else ever knew about it was beside the purpose”, it is also heartbreaking for different reasons. I’m so full of pity and admiration for this guy! How is it he can go through all of this and not be reduced to some pathetic crying ball?
    Deal with it and keep walking, indeed!

  50. Ashley says:

    This is probably the best and most horror-laden writing of the whole story. The bizarre flowers are the creepiest.

    "Wide flats lay on either bank, shadowy meads filled with pale white flowers. Luminous they were too, beautiful and yet horrible of shape, like the demented forms in an uneasy dream; and they gave forth a sickening charnel-smell; an odour of rottenness filled the air."

    I know those nightmares, those "uneasy dreams". I think everyone has had them.

  51. Roxanne says:

    Your unprepared-ness is adorable mark.


  52. arnenieberding says:

    Obviously, that rotating tower houses a rather lovely restaurant with a view. It really is the trendiest place to visit in Minas Morgul~ Some say it owns all of its popularity to the Lord of the Ringwraiths' fondness of Foursquare, but I beg to differ.

    V xabj uvf anzr vf gur Jvgpu-Xvat bs Natzne, ohg Znex qbrfa'g (lrg).

    • Wheelrider says:

      I hear the service isn't very good, though. Rather surly.

      Npghnyyl, V unq sbetbggra ubj znal anzrf ur unf hagvy guvf cneg. Trggvat hc gurer jvgu bhe obl Nentbea.

  53. tardis_stowaway says:

    Fact: whenever I am out hiking and the trail is too steep, too long, or just generally too tough for my not so great level of fitness, I think of Frodo and Sam on the steps of Cirith Ungol. I tell myself that if exhausted, despairing hobbits can make it up all those terrifying stairs, I can damn well make it up this slope. And I do. The hobbits' determination gives me strength.

    I love this chapter in all its dread. I especially love Frodo and Sam's beautifully meta conversation.

  54. Laura says:

    This chapter just might be my favorite thing that Tolkien has ever written. It shows us the world he can create, and the evil in it. The fantastic story, and immense suspense. The pits of despair. And yet, even in the pits of despair, there is a smile, a hug, a laugh between friends, a reason to keep going. And lots of meta, on stories and heroes and tales. And that part is just LOVE.

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