Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 9

In the ninth chapter of the second book of The Two Towers, I’VE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE. Intrigued? Then it’s time for Mark to read The Lord of the Rings.



I should have known. I SHOULD HAVE KNOWN THIS WOULD HAPPEN. i didn’t believe it when Gollum disappeared for hours. I didn’t believe it when Gollum made it really obvious that he needed them to go a specific way into Mordor. I DID NOT BELIEVE IT WHEN GOLLUM LED THEM INTO A PITCH-BLACK, SMELLY CAVE. Why? WHY? WHY DID I HOLD ON TO HOPE FOR SO LONG? There’s an entire book left to happen. This journey had to be ruined. IT HAD TO BE. I BASICALLY SAID AS MUCH IN THE LAST REVIEW.

I feel like a fool.

Presently they were under the shadow, and there in the midst of it they saw the opening of a cave. “This is the way in,’ said Gollum softly. ‘This is the entrance to the tunnel.” He did not speak its name: Torech Ungol, Shelob’s Lair.’

Despite this, I swear to you, I still thought, “Oh, well, that’s not too bad. It can’t be that awful, can it?” Mark, it has LAIR in its name. THAT IS ALWAYS BAD. THAT IS NEVER GOOD. Does that mean Cirith Ungol translates to “Shelob’s Stair”? IT PROBABLY DOES OR SOMETHING. Oh my god, I am so embarrassed.

I just can’t even cope with the idea that Sam and Frodo walk into a tunnel that’s darker than the mines of Moria, and that they have to find their way by touching the walls. This technique fails in three paragraphs. Literally, that is all the time that Tolkien gives these characters to use this method to follow the tunnel through the mountain. CLEARLY HE WANTS EVERYONE TO SUFFER. The walls give way to unseen crevices. Or are they holes? Or tunnels? Or cliffs? Who knows??? Oh, there are things hanging from the ceiling that dangle down and brush against their heads, too? Great. I am already uncomfortable with this entire prospect. I decided to be momentarily comforted by Sam and Frodo holding hands and guiding one another in that dark, dank place, but that comfort disappears when they both realize that Gollum has left them behind. I think it was right around this point that my faith in Gollum started to crack. I suppose I just wanted to believe that he was trying to redeem himself in some way. Sure, I believe that he also wanted to keep the Ring close, but Frodo treated him better than probably any living being in Middle-earth. I had hope that this might have meant something to him. I had hope that whatever seemed to be lurking in the darkness was just Gollum himself. When Sam remembers the star-glass that Galadriel gave Frodo, I then hoped that the light it cast would expose what was really going on, or at least provide them with enough light to catch up with Gollum.

Not far down the tunnel, between them and the opening where they had reeled and stumbled, he was aware of eyes growing visible, two great clusters of many-windowed eyes – the coming menace was unmasked at last.


Then Frodo’s heart flamed within him, and without thinking what he did, whether it was folly or despair or courage, he took the Phial in his left hand, and with his right hand drew his sword. Sting flashed out, and the sharp elven-blade sparkled in the silver light, but at its edges a blue fire flickered. Then holding the star aloft and the bright sword advanced, Frodo, hobbit of the Shire, walked steadily down to meet the eyes.

FRODO!!!1 BE STILL MY HEART. Oh my god, I love you so much. WHAT A COURAGEOUS MOMENT!!! Even better, it works! This “many-windowed” creature backs off at the sight of the star and Sting. Yet it’s a brief respite from the terror, as the next page confirms the worst possible development yet: that thing WAS A GIANT SPIDER. No, look, stop doing this everyone. I know that this book was written decades before I was born, but I think it should be international law that spiders should never be enlarged in fiction for any reason ever for all time. This is what I will decree when I am President of the Universe, which I am now campaigning for. In a universe under my rule, there will never be large spiders by which authors can terrify us. This is a good law, and everyone will be happy with it. (PS: Aragog = Shelob, no? Well, it could be where Rowling got the idea. It’s not like Tolkien has the copyright on large spiders. If he did, though, I would burn all documents that gave him this copyright just to spite him for making me feel all icky and gross.)

I do think that Tolkien’s choice to take us away from the perspective of Frodo and Sam in this chapter is kind of brilliant. It’s totally unexpected, too. It’s a way for him to give us a context we might never have had, and the info-dumping makes Shelob a billion times more frightening to me. I like the idea that both Shelob and Sauron are aware of one another and have this mutual arrangement with one another. They’re like the true Axis of Evil, as far as I’m concerned. It’s here, though, that we learn how Gollum plays into all of this. Turns out the little dude wasn’t lying. He really did come through this passage out of Mordor, but we never knew that Gollum promised her food. Tolkien makes a key distinction here: Gollum does not do this to please Shelob. He realizes that he can take Sam and Frodo to the gigantic spider and after she’s eaten them, he can search the bones and scraps for his Precious. It’s a means to an end, one that he’s been planning all along. Does that mean he purposely got caught earlier in this book? Oh god, is he really that cunning? Even if he isn’t, he’s certainly manipulated these two hobbits into being right where he wants them to be.

Ugh, it’s just so awful to even think about this. They fell right into Gollum’s trap, and it’s just so frustrating to me. Frodo tried to believe Gollum, and Sam was right the whole time. When Shelob comes out of a side passage to split up Sam and Frodo, it’s when I just lost it. I was so UPSET. Why? Why are you doing this? Also:

Great horns she had…

This giant spider has horns on her head???? SO HELP ME GANDALF, I AM GOING TO HAVE NIGHTMARES ABOUT THIS.

Sam, that brave little hobbit, tries to warn Frodo of the oncoming danger, but Gollum chooses this moment to attack him. Sam and Gollum get into a brutal and violent fight. Gollum, however, misjudges how angry and frightened Sam is, and that gives the hobbit this burst of energy and resolve that Gollum couldn’t have anticipated. Despite managing to wrestle away from the creature (and breaking his staff across Gollum’s back), Sam must dejectedly watch as Gollum scampers away from him.

Frodo is gone. Gollum’s plan worked. Everything is fucked up.

This fucking book. Goddamn it.

About Mark Oshiro

Perpetually unprepared since '09.
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437 Responses to Mark Reads ‘The Two Towers’: Book 2, Chapter 9

  1. blossomingpeach says:

    So glad you got to this chapter, Mark, because Shelob's name in rot13 is "Furybo" and we just couldn't take the hilarity any longer.

    That being said, I didn't think Tolkien could get any more cruel, but he managed it. I feel pretty much the same way about spiders as Ron Weasley does, and the Mirkwood spiders were positively cuddly compared to Shelob. We have to wait until Monday to find out what happens next? (And more importantly, discuss it?)

    • Trey says:

      There's still a part of my soul that longs to call Shelob Furybo again, if only because it makes a giant evil spider sound less terrifying.

      Mark, congratulations, you've made it to one of the most terrifying chapters in any book ever (except for Stephen King's IT, that scared the crap out of me). Abj vg'f gvzr sbe bar bs gur zbfg ntbavmvat pyvssunatref rire!

    • platoapproved says:

      Oh, Furybo. We shall miss her.

      • flootzavut says:

        She'll always be Furybo to me now 😀

        I feel (somewhat) bad about it, but have to confess that when I saw "I'VE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE" I laughed. A lot. :$

        • sirintegra42 says:

          Well there's always money in the banana stand :D.

          You need something to counteract the depressing nature of the last few chapters.

        • AmandaNekesa says:

          Hahahaha…yeah I laughed at that too, when I saw "I'VE MADE A HUGE MISTAKE " Mark's unpreparedness is always so epic, and I cant help but feel really wrong/evil for laughing at it.

    • sudden_eyes says:

      I've also been calling her THAT FUCKING SPIDER, which reads as GUNG SHPXVAT FCVQRE – almost Orc-speak.


  2. Becky_J_ says:

    "But he was too late. So far Gollum's plot had succeeded."

    I….. you guys…. look, lists and keysmashes and capslock fury is all fine and great, but it will not suffice to explain my emotions right now. There is only one thing to do…… GIFSPAM

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  3. Juliana Moreli says:

    You never saw that coming right?

    This chapter is a infinit source of frustation and fear…

    SHELOB SHELOB SHELOB… one spyder to rule them all…

    Intense chapter is intense…

  4. Becky_J_ says:

    I am pretty damn sure I can blame ALL OF MY CHILDHOOD NIGHTMARES on Tolkien, actually, maybe from this chapter alone. Seriously, there is nothing more terrifying than that tunnel. OH WAIT YES THERE IS HER NAME IS SHELOB. The description of Shelob….. look, it makes me want to go die in a corner somewhere. The fact that she mates with her offspring (did I read that right?) and then KILLS them is bad enough. The fact that she exists solely to enjoy the death of other creatures is awful.

    But the worst part??

    THAT SAURON THINKS OF HER AS HIS CAT AND SENDS HER HIS PRISONERS SO SHE CAN PLAY WITH THEM AND THEN KILL THEM. Seriously. I can LITERALLY think of no worse death than being forced into her dark cave and then played with until she decides to kill me. I would find a way to kill myself before that happened. Or I would die from fright in the first two minutes. Either one.

    Fear of darkness and spiders…. THANK YOU TOLKIEN. No, really, it's fine, I DIDN'T want to sleep. I now see a spider, doesn't matter how small, and I picture it, weaving a tiny but strong web around me while I sleep, a web I can't break, and then when I wake up, the spider has grown and is waiting for me. Therefore, I have to kill them or get rid of them when I see them. Because here's the real truth…….

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    A lesson that Sam knows very well right about now…..

    • knut_knut says:

      Re: your macro

      YES THAT IS THE WORST. Especially late at night when all the lights are off, and by the light of your computer screen you see this giant thing scuttling over your bed. AND THEN YOU CAN’T FIND IT. This has happened to me more times than I can count and it always ends with me in tears at 3 am, tearing my bed apart, spraying everything with Raid. I HATE SPIDERS SO MUCH.

      • Becky_J_ says:

        god SERIOUSLY. One time, I saw a spider on my ceiling and I was like, "No, you know what, this one time, I'm not going to freak out. The chances of it coming over my bed are tiny." Then, what did it do?? CAME OVER MY BED. And I was like, "Nope, it'll go away. The chances it'll drop over my bed are tiny." THEN IT DROPPED. IN MY BED. I didn't sleep that night.

        NEVER AGAIN.

        • knut_knut says:

          THEY KNOW WHAT YOU'RE THINKING. I bet all that stuff about them eating insects is a huge lie. They live off our fear. And blood.

        • cait0716 says:

          I get a kick out of trolling my friends about stuff like this. I really have no problem with spiders. If they want to hang out in my house, that's fine. Eventually my cat will eat them and in the meantime they'll eat all the other bugs. So when one scurries across the floor or up a wall, I just let it go about its business. If a friend is over and spots a spider, my usual response is just "cool" or "ok" and they get mad that I'm not springing into action to put it outside or flush it down the toilet.

          • Lugija says:

            I'm like this too, except that I actually am scared of spiders, but I still allow them to move around in my house. Except if they are in my actual bedroom, then I'll carefully put a paper on their way, and once they're on it, I'll carry them to the other end of the house (or outside, if it's summer). As long as they don't try to harm me, they're allowed. Same goes for other bugs. If there's a fly in my room, I shut down the light, open the door to a nicely lit corridor, and then close the door after they are flown there, thinking "Well, they live for less than a week anyway, don't they?"
            I must have read too many books as a child.

            • icy says:

              I'm the same with spiders–live and let live, and please eat the mosquitoes. Except it turns out they are quite messy eaters. Last summer I had one build a huge web in the corner of my bathtub, and I learned that spiders are quite the bug killing machines, and I learned that the bits and bobs left behind were annoying for me to see. So Gollum's plan was smart, I guess.

          • virtual_monster says:

            I have Rules and spiders in my home must learn them.

            Rule 1 is that if you're larger than a penny go and live somewhere else.
            Rule 2 is that you may indeed live in the corner of my bathroom but don't ever, EVER dream of joining me in the shower.
            Rule 3 (I wasn't expecting to need a rule 3; not my favourite surprise) is this: if I ever find you on my pillow, I will hunt you down and kill you and all of your little spidery offspring unto the seventh generation. And then I will crush their corpses. And set fire to them.

          • sirintegra42 says:

            I don't mind spiders too. Once I accidentally trod on one with bare feet which was completely disgusting though. I mostly just felt guilty for some reason and stayed away from spiders because I didn't want to accidentally kill any of them. Clearly I was an odd child :).

          • notemily says:

            Actually when I see a bug, I specifically point my cat in its direction so she'll see it and try to get it. She's not a RELENTLESS hunter like one of my foster kittens was, though. He would hunt down bugs like it was his job. I hope his new owner is happy and centipede-free.

        • T.J. says:

          Spiders don't freak me out too much unless they are a)on me b) on my ceiling above my bed (I am terrified they fall on my face in the night) c) In my bed/clothes. Usually I can just catch them and put them outside no problem but I had a really terrifying moment with a spider once. I was horse-sitting for my neighbors and they have this really fantastic barn that had a bathroom in it. So one day I went in to the bathroom to get some cleaning supplies and I noticed there was a BLACK WIDOW SPIDER hanging above the toilet. I never used that bathroom again. Scary as hell because those can be deadly poisonous.

      • rubyjoo says:

        I've had a phobia about spiders ever since I was chased as a toddler by my cousin (who didn't have a phobia), dangling a spider between her fingers. When she caught me, she dropped it down the back of my neck. I know more scary spider stories than you can shake a stick at, LOL! When I was a student, my house-mate staggered into the bathroom all bleary-eyed one morning, grabbed her toothbrush and stuck it in her mouth to give her teeth a quick clean. Unfortunately, there was a big, fat, hairy spider on the bristles. Moral: always use toothpaste because that at least gives you time to check out the brush first!

        • sudden_eyes says:

          Once, when visiting my parents' farm in Texas, I blearily stumbled into the shower one morning, without my contacts in, and as I turned on the water noticed a dark clump in the drain. "Ugh," I thought, "hair!" And reached down to pick it up. It was a scorpion and it was wet and pissed off. And it TOTALLY stung me.


          I'm not a big spider fan – and that toothbrush thing could totally have happened in our household – but scorpions absolutely terrify me. I try to channel my wildlife biologist sister's voice saying "Beneficial predators, beneficial predators," but it doesn't get me far.

          • threerings13 says:

            Ugh, I'm with you. Spiders don't bother me (at least not anymore), but scorpions? Terrified. I grew up in Houston and never saw a scorpion, but now I live in Central Texas and we have them. When we first moved here we would get them in the house and I would FREAK. Luckily, we haven't had one inside for years. They're just so EVIL looking.

            • sudden_eyes says:

              The best therapy I know of is the scorpion-in-a-matchbox passage in Gerald Durrell's "My Family and Other Animals." Laughing at a scorpion story, even once, does help a bit.

              How have you kept them out of the house??

              • threerings13 says:

                We built flower beds all around the house and filled them with cedar mulch. I think it keeps most of the creepy crawlies away.

          • Becky_J_ says:

            gah you guys are giving me a panic attack at THE SHEER HORROR OF THESE STORIES. No spiders, no scorpions, NO THANKS.

          • notemily says:

            I never have my glasses on in the shower and I often see something and I'm not sure if it's a clump of hair or, like, a huge millipede, and I'm scared to look at it any closer to find out. *shudder*

      • ZeynepD says:

        I want to give you ALL THE HUGS. Because yes.

    • sudden_eyes says:

      I grew up in the land of tarantulas, which don't bite but OH MY GOD MEETING ONE IN THE BATHROOM AT THREE O'CLOCK IN THE MORNING … shriek.

      That plus the HUGE SCORPIONS.

      I don't know how I survived my childhood (in rural Texas, if anyone's wondering).

    • flootzavut says:


    • Kiryn says:

      I'm scared of the dark and spiders too, so yeah, I totally, totally feel you.

      Then again, a lot of bugs and creepy crawlies scare the shit out of me. Spiders, scorpions, centipedes (which are awful, because they actually CAN EAT TARANTULAS. YEAH.), June bugs, praying mantises, wasps….


      If it helps at all, Mark…Gollum was right in that this WAS the only other way into Mordor. He just didn't tell you that SINCE YOU CAN'T WALK INTO MORDOR, you have to CLIMB UP THROUGH ENDLESS NIGHTMARE FUEL instead.

      • flootzavut says:

        "He just didn't tell you that SINCE YOU CAN'T WALK INTO MORDOR, you have to CLIMB UP THROUGH ENDLESS NIGHTMARE FUEL instead."

        That is a gif waiting to happen!

  5. Dreamflower says:

    This chapter, oh my heart!

    Nothing EVER prepares me for this chapter– not even having read it before over and over and over. It destroys me every single time.

    Oh Frodo! Oh Sam!

    (((((((((hugs them both tightly))))))))))))))

  6. Becky_J_ says:

    Also….. NO MORE FURYBO. hahahahahah. There was really no worse translation that Shelob's name into rot13.

  7. knut_knut says:

    PURE NIGHTMARE FUEL AND UNPREPARED-NESS. That’s what this chapter is. Its title is a spoiler, and we’re still unprepared for how goddamn terrifying everything is. Oh, Mark. We were all rot13 flailing over this chapter. GROUP HUG.

    They walked as it were in a black vapour wrought of veritable darkness itself that, as it was breathed, brought blindness not only to the eyes but to the mind, so that even the memory of colours and of forms and of any light faded out of thought. Night always had been, and always would be, and night was all.
    TOLKIEN. WHY ARE YOU SO GOOD AT WRITING BEAUTIFUL PASSAGES ABOUT TERRIBLE AND TERRIFYING THINGS. I’m afraid of practically everything, but Shelob is the Ultimate Monster to me. Nothing scares me as much as Shelob does.

    • Patrick721 says:

      Gura lbh'q orggre abg ernq gur Fvyznevyvba, be lbh'yy eha vagb Furybo'f zbzzn.

      • knut_knut says:

        I did!! For some reason that one didn't bother me as much. Meaning, I didn't feel phantom spiders for the next 24 hours. Still gave me nightmares, though.

      • flootzavut says:

        Abj V'z vzntvavat Fnz penpxvat anexl wbxrf nobhg lb zbzzn gb Furybo. Jung vf zl oenva…

    • MsSmeagol says:

      Gur fbhaq bs ure snatf qvttvat vagb Sebqb'f onpx va gur zbivr… HTU FB FB VAPERQVOYL VPXL.

      • knut_knut says:

        LRF!!! Naq gur ubeevoyr zhfvp naq fxvggrevat abvfrf fur znqr Q: Fur jnf greevslvat va gur zbivr. V nyjnlf fxvc ure cnegf

  8. Eber says:

    I've learnt to skip this chapter as it always scares the heck out of me! Even though I know what is going to happen I just can't read it or watch it!! This whole scene translates into an absolutely terrifying part in the movie!! I seriously cloise my eyes and cover my ears until it is over.

  9. Jenny_M says:

    UGH, the descriptions of Shelob are some of the most viscerally disgusting in the entire book. Every time he talks about her swollen, smelly self I just want to gag a bit.

    Either way, DO NOT WANT.

    (Although I loved all the rot13 giggling yesterday about Mark saying that he didn't want to have to take back his words about Gollum. SERIOUSLY. LIKE TEN PAGES LATER.)

  10. unefeeverte says:

    Just… wait till you see her in the movie. And her lair. Gave me Nightmares with a Capital N.

    • James says:

      Oh, I find the movie a breeze compared to this! I think it's the descriptions of smell in the book make it so much worse for me. *SHUDDER*

    • sixth_queen says:

      Not quite a spoiler, but ORFG. PNZREN. NATYRF. RIRE.

      • AmandaNekesa says:

        YES! V ybir gur pnzren natyrf gung ner hfrq va gur fprarf sbe Furybo'f Ynve. Vg nyjnlf tvirf zr gur srryvat bs bqq natyrf gung n fcvqre zvtug frr.

  11. Katarina_H says:

    Shelob is the ULTIMATE SPIDER. She's the HBIC of spiders. My fear is somewhat mitigated by how excitingly AWFUL she is.

    Also, this latest time I watched the movies, V xvaq bs sryg fbeel sbe ure. Va gur obbx fur'f guvf ubeebe bs n guvat, naq va gur svyz fur'f gung gb fbzr rkgrag, ohg fur'f nyfb guvf ovt navzny, jub vf uhatel naq whfg tbg uheg, naq njqq. Vg znxrf zr srry yvxr gung yvggyr Ebzna puvyq jub pevrq sbe gur yvba gung jnfa'g tvira n Puevfgvna, ohg lrnu, V qvq srry n cnat bs cvgl.

    • Jenny_M says:

      [Spoilers for Cloverfield] : Gung vf ubj V ernpgrq gb gur zbafgre va Pybiresvryq. V jnf yvxr "UR VF WHFG N ONOL, ARJ LBEX PVGL. JUL LBH TBGGN AHXR UVZ? UR ZVFFRF UVF ZBZ."

      • flootzavut says:

        Juvpu gbgnyyl erzvaqf zr bs Crgre Wnpxfba naq gungqnza pnir gebyy jub'f zbgure jnf jnvgvat ng ubzr jvgu uvf orq ghearq qbja…

    • Dreamflower says:

      Silm spoiler: Npghnyyl Furybo vf abg rira gur hygvzngr bs WEEG'f fcvqref! Gung jbhyq or ure zbgure Hatbyvnag, jub nyyvrq jvgu Zbetbgu onpx orsber gur Fha naq Zbba jrer perngrq. Fur qrfgeblrq gur Gjb Gerrf gung yvg gur jbeyq naq qenax hc nyy gurve yvtug.

      WEEG pnzr hc jvgu ure lrnef orsber ur rire jebgr Gur Uboovg.

      Ur frrzf gb unir unq n guvat sbe Tvnag Fcvqref.

      • Katarina_H says:

        Lrnu, V'ir ernpurq gur Hatbyvnag ovgf bs Fvyznevyyvba (gubhtu gurer znl or zber V unira'g ernq lrg) ohg V guvax Furybo vf qrfpevorq va n zhpu zber ivfpreny, fpnel jnl. Fb juvyr V xabj gung Hatbyvnag vf gur zbz, fur'f abg gur UOVP fcvqre gb zr.

      • fantasy_fan says:

        Furybo frrzf zber vzzrqvngryl guerngravat guna Hatbyvnag gubhtu. Lrf, fur nyyvrq jvgu Zbetbgu, chyyrq bss uvf orgenlny bs gur Inyne naq ngr fbzr gerrf (ernyyl avpr gerrf gubhtu gurl jrer), ohg gung qbrfa'g pbzcner gb gur ivfpreny qrfpevcgvba va guvf puncgre. Fur'f evtug urer naq evtug abj, pbzvat ng lbh va gur qnex. Lbh pna'g rfpncr gur fgrapu naq srne, naq gur ubeevoyr qnatre gb bhe snibevgr uboovgf, gur greevoyr guvat fur qbrf gb Sebqb naq gur pnhfr bs nyy Fnz'f tevrs naq qrfcnve. Hatbyvnag vf jbefr, va na nofgenpg naq vagryyrpghny jnl. Furybo'f fcryy cvaf lbh qbja va n pnir bs obarf naq jrof juvyr lbh jnvg va ubcryrff srne gb or rngra.

        • Dreamflower says:

          Guvf vf dhvgr gehr. V guvax gung vg'f bayl va pbzcnevfba jvgu Furybo gung jr xabj ubj ubeevoyr Hatbyvnag zhfg unir orra– gb xabj fur jnf ovttre naq zber cbjreshy guna Furybo…

          V qba'g fhccbfr V'q unir sbhaq ure arneyl fb qernqshy jvgubhg xabjvat bs Furybo svefg. (Fb, frr V'z vzntvavat Furybo, bayl gra gvzrf ovttre, zber znyvpvbhf, naq zber vagryyvtrag. Ohg jvgubhg Furybo, V cebonoyl jbhyqa'g guvax Hatbyvnag jnf gung onq.

          • majere616 says:

            Jung'f fb greevslvat nobhg Hatbyvnag vf gung fur vf onfvpnyyl uhatre crefbavsvrq. Fur pbafhzrq rirelguvat fur pnzr vagb pbagnpg jvgu naq fcrjf sbegu 'hayvtug' va vgf cynpr. Fur irel arneyl qribhef Zbetbgu uvzfrys naq bayl snvyf orpnhfr fur vf qevira bss ol zhygvcyr Onyebtf. Vg'f urnivyl vzcyvrq gung nsgre syrrvat gb gur irel rqtr bs gur jbeyq fur riraghnyyl pbafhzrq urefrys va gur qrcguf bs ure snzvar. Gur ragver punenpgre vf onfvpnyyl jung unccraf jura Gbyxvra qrpvqrf gb gel uvf unaq ng Ybirpensgvna ubeebe.

    • Tauriel_ says:

      Jung Qernzsybjre fnvq nobir. Furybo vf ernyyl abguvat pbzcnerq jvgu Hatbyvnag – Hatbyvnag jnf noyr gb "jrnir qnexarff" naq "perngr hayvtug gung fjnyybjrq nyy gur yvtug", juvpu vf n gehyl greevslvat gubhtug (hayvxr Furybo, jub jnf onfvpnyyl whfg na beqvanel, nyorvg uhtr, fcvqre jub yvirq va n qnex pnir). Gurer'f nyfb fbzr fcrphyngvba gung Hatbyvnag pnzr sebz "bhgfvqr bs gur Jbeyq" – naq vaqrrq fur qbrf frrz irel Ybirpensgvna.

      • Katarina_H says:

        Jung *V* fnvq nobir. 🙂 Hatbyvnag gb zr vfa'g qrfpevorq arneyl nf jryy nf Furybo, naq guhf qbrfa'g pbzr bss nf fpnel onqnff va gur fnzr jnl. Ohg gura, gung'f cne sbe gur pbhefr sbe YbgE if. Fvyznevyyvba, fb sne. (V'ir bayl znantrq 100 cntrf va gur cnfg pbhcyr bs jrrxf. GUVF OBBX VF FB OBEVAT.)

        • Dreamflower says:

          My thoughts exactly the first time I tackled it. Took me several tries to get all the way through; but then I tried it again a few years back and found it much more interesting. Also, reading Silm fanfic makes the original more interesting too.

          I still like Unfinished Tales better, though. And The Children of Hurin, though the latter is awfully depressing.

          Juvyr fbzr crbcyr oynzr gur "obevat-arff" bs gur Fvyz ba vgf "sbefbbguyl" fglyr, gung'f abg jung chgf zr bss. V ybir gung fbeg bs ynathntr. Ohg V guvax gur ynpx bs n pyrne cybg naq nyy bs Puevfgbcure'f sbbgabgrf naq fhpu, nqq gb gur qelarff bs vg.

          Cyhf, frevbhf ynpx bs UBOOVGF! V guvax Gheva jbhyq unir orra zhpu yrff qrcerffvat vs ur unq n uboovg sbe n sevraq.

          • Katarina_H says:

            V dhvgr yvxrq Nvahyvaqnyë, ohg Dhragn Fvyznevyyvba fb sne srryf rkgerzryl fhzznevmrq – n ybg bs fghss unccravat, ohg irel yvggyr cebcre syrfuvat bhg bs nalguvat. (Naq arkg gb ab qvnybthr, juvpu znxrf zr srry yvxr Nyvpr va Jbaqreynaq: "Jung vf gur hfr bs n obbx jvgubhg cvpgherf be pbairefngvba?")

            Gur ynpx bs uboovgf vf n ceboyrz, gbb, V nqzvg. 🙂 Vg'f n zlgubybtl jvgubhg nyy gur zlgubybtvpny jnpxvarff, gur "Naq gura fur qebir n gragcbyr guebhtu uvf urnq" be "naq gura ur farrmrq bhg uhznavgl guebhtu uvf abfr" be "naq gura ur tnir ovegu gb n ubefr." V zvff gubfr ovgf.

            • Dreamflower says:

              "V dhvgr yvxrq Nvahyvaqnyë, ohg Dhragn Fvyznevyyvba fb sne srryf rkgerzryl fhzznevmrq – n ybg bs fghss unccravat, ohg irel yvggyr cebcre syrfuvat bhg bs nalguvat. (Naq arkg gb ab qvnybthr, juvpu znxrf zr srry yvxr Nyvpr va Jbaqreynaq: "Jung vf gur hfr bs n obbx jvgubhg cvpgherf be pbairefngvba?")"

              Jryy, bs pbhefr, vg'f uneq gb xrrc va zvaq gung va fcvgr bs gur snpg gung WEEG unq jbexrq ba gur Fvyz fvapr JJV (onfvpnyyl nobhg 60 lrnef), ur arire qvq SVAVFU vg– juvpu bs pbhefr rkcynvaf gur ynpx bs "syrfuvat bhg". Puevfgbcure unq n svar yvar gb jnyx orgjrra svyyvat va jvgu thrffrf be yrnivat guvatf or, naq V guvax sbe gur zbfg cneg ur reerq ba gur fvqr bs pnhgvba. V guvax bayl gur cerff bs univat n choyvfure bire uvf urnq ranoyrq WEEG gb svavfu YbgE– ur jnf fb ranzberq bs gur jbeyq ur perngrq gung ur pbhyq arire fgbc gvaxrevat jvgu vg naq pnyy vg qbar. Cyhf, bs pbhefr, ur tbg qvfpbhentrq jura Hajva jnf abg vagrerfgrq va choyvfuvat vg nsgre Gur Uboovg.

              "Gur ynpx bs uboovgf vf n ceboyrz, gbb, V nqzvg. 🙂 Vg'f n zlgubybtl jvgubhg nyy gur zlgubybtvpny jnpxvarff, gur "Naq gura fur qebir n gragcbyr guebhtu uvf urnq" be "naq gura ur farrmrq bhg uhznavgl guebhtu uvf abfr" be "naq gura ur tnir ovegu gb n ubefr." V zvff gubfr ovgf."

              Gur ynpx bs uboovgf vf n frevbhf ceboyrz sbe zr! YBY! Ohg nyfb, V guvax bar ernfba V rawblrq ernqvat gur Fvyz zber gur ynfg gvzr V gevrq vg jnf orpnhfr V unir ernq fbzr oevyyvnag snasvp, va juvpu Inyne, Znvn, naq Ryirf nyy vagrenpg va n zhpu zber dhvexl znaare. V zlfrys qba'g jevgr Fvyz-svp, ohg V unir ernq fbzr nznmvat fgbevrf.

              Check out The Silmarillion Writers Guild if you are interested.

              Authors I can rec: Fiondil (very quirky interpretation of the Valar); pandemonium_213 (who has a very different take on the origins of Arda, treating the Silm very much as myth rather than history); Dawn Felagund; Drummerwench; Dwimordene; Erulisse; oshun; Raksha the Demon; and Rhapsody. Lots of other really good writers there, and Silm fic for the most part tends to be very much a cut above the average.

              • Katarina_H says:

                Lrnu – V jnfa'g fher ubj svavfurq gur fgbel fubhyq or pbafvqrerq, frrvat ubj ur'q nyernql cerfragrq vg gb n choyvfure bapr. Ohg V guvax vg pbhyq qrsvavgryl unir orarsvgrq sebz abg univat puncgre nsgre puncgre gung fcna frireny uhaqerq lrnef rnpu.

                Gur ovg gung gbhpurq zr gur zbfg fb sne jnf nobhg gur Bepf, fhecevfvatyl (be znlor abg): "Naq qrrc va gurve qnex urnegf gur Bepf ybngurq gur Znfgre jubz gurl freirq va srne, gur znxre bayl bs gurve zvfrel." Nj! 🙁

                Thanks for the fic recs! I might check them out once I've finished the book.

              • obsidianj says:

                I didn't know Fiondil also posts on The Silmarillion Writers Guild. I know him from the Stories of Arda archive. I can only recommend his stories. They put some flesh to the bare bones of the Sil.

          • flootzavut says:

            "Cyhf, frevbhf ynpx bs UBOOVGF! V guvax Gheva jbhyq unir orra zhpu yrff qrcerffvat vs ur unq n uboovg sbe n sevraq."

            GUVF FB ZHPU.

            Frevbhfyl, RIRELGUVAT vf orggre jvgu Uboovgf.

          • msw188 says:

            Just sliding in to declare The Children of Hurin one of the awesomest things ever. Although, there are sections that I like better from the telling in the Silmarillion, as opposed to the sections in the new book (which incidentally I let someone borrow, and he never returned it anger anger anger). But whatever, the story is awesome regardless of how it's told.

  12. A passerby says:

    Naq lrg, gurer'f Hatbyvnag gb ybbx sbejneq gb va Gur Fvyznevyyvba.

  13. stormwreath says:

    I just wanted to believe that he was trying to redeem himself in some way.

    I think he was, though. Last chapter, after he'd presumably just got back from telling Shelob that her dinner* was nearly ready, he felt remorse. He regretted what he'd just done, and almost decided to warn Frodo about Shelob, or lead them a different way, or something.

    Then Sam called him a sneak, and Gollum got angry and hardened his heart to lead them into Shelob's lair after all.

    * her dinner = Frodo and Sam.

    Incidentally, did you catch that the giant spiders of Mirkwood, which we met in 'The Hobbit', are Shelob's children? The one she didn't kill, anyway.

    • bugeye says:

      Remember, Gollum is a sneak. He is sneaking around, he is planning to get his precious back without actually breaking his promise. He was caught out, guilty of the charge. It gave him even more justification, in his mind, to betray Frodo. Sam could have held hands and sung hobbit walking songs and still Gollum would have led them to Shelob.

      Frodo has the precious, and Frodo is taking it right into Mordor, there is nothing more powerful in the Smeagol/Gollum mind than that. Gollum has to save the precious, and of course, then Gollum would be master of the precious again and he would take very good care of it.

      Gollum is such a masterful, brilliant, tragic character. Tolkien is a genius.

      • fantasy_fan says:

        Agree. Gollum would have killed them outright. Smeagol takes them to Furybo to avoid breaking his promise, but the outcome for the hobbits would only be different on a technicality.

      • GamgeeFest says:

        Agreed. Gollum's only concern through all of this was getting his Precious back and doing it in a way that didn't break his oath. Even if he did feel remorse, he still would have led them into that tunnel. The desire for his Precious was simply too strong.

  14. BetB says:

    I think people are looking askance in my direction because I've been cackling like Bellatrix Lestrange while I read your review. o.0 Poor Mark. You knew you were unprepared but you never expected Furybo ( I'll forever love that rot-13 encoding of Shelob). Of all the nasty, vile creatures that could inhabit this no-mans land, it had to be her.

    Tolkien is the "Master of Doom" and he should have copyrighted the phrase. All is black and hopeless. Gollum is false. He surprised me with the depths of his wickedness and maliciousness. How can a Hobbit fight such evil from all directions? This is hopeless. All ways into Mordor are guarded, even Gollum admitted to that. After all, one can not simply walk into Mordor.

  15. monkeybutter says:

    Yes, this chapter is quite horrifying, and Sam and Gollum's fight is alarmingly vicious, but I can't deal with that right now because you are running for president? On this blog? WHAT ARE YOU THINKING? And so fresh off of your Gollum errors. Here, I think you will need this in the future:

    <img src=""&gt;

  16. cait0716 says:

    I really liked the backstory about Shelob. It renewed my interest in picking up the Silmarillion (which has sort of been waning since we rejoined Sam and Frodo). My favorite detail is that she vomits darkness. It perfectly explains the thick, smell, oppressive darkness the hobbits have been struggling through and sets Shelob apart from the rest of the natural world

    At summer camp, we had this great obstacle course that involved all sort of things intended to get us kids to work together. One of them was a big spider web strung up with ropes between two trees. You had to get everyone through one at a time without moving the ropes. If the ropes shook significantly, then you had 30 seconds to get everyone else through as quickly as possible before Shelob came and ate anyone who hadn't made it through. Every now and then you got some asshole who just grabbed the ropes and shook them, but mostly everyone would get really into it.

  17. Alice says:

    Tolkien knows my nightmares!!!Dark stinking tunnels and big ugly spiders;so we finally find out what's with this misterious and omnius tunnel,Gollum betrays them(surprise!?!) and She…she is a HUGE SPIDER!!!! Nightmare fuel forever…

    <img src=""&gt;
    John Howe – The Phial of Galadriel

    <img src="; width="600">
    Alan Lee sketch

    <img src="; width="600">
    John Howe – Shelob about to leap on Frodo

    <img src="; width="600">
    Alan Lee – Shelob's Lair

    I really think that Galadriel put those elven words in Frodo's mouth,and that she is watching them from the distance ^_^

    <img src="; width="600">
    Alan Lee sketch of Galadriel

    an interesting look of Shelob by Angus McPriders from his role-playing books
    (ybbxf fvzvyne gb gur zbivr Furybo,vfa'g vg?)

    <img src="; width="600">

    and I usually don't post fan-art but this is pretty good,by Peter Gaber

    <img src="; width="600">

    • Katie says:

      That Alan Lee sketch of Galadriel – that _MUST_ have been done after the movie casting was confirmed, right? It's impossible otherwise.

    • blossomingpeach says:

      I always love the art posts, but I must admit that this one is giving me the heebie jeebies. Good thing I am not reading these comments right before bed.

    • JustMalyn says:

      Thank you for including Galadriel in this 🙂 Because HOLY ROMAN EMPIRE BATMAN. Yikes.

    • Geolojazz says:


      No really, awesome sketches and thanks for sharing, but EEEEEEEEEERRRRRGG.

    • BornIn1142 says:

      John Howe's design for Shelob looks AMAZING. It's recognizable as a spider, yet also so much more, so it's clearly some kind of unreal mythical beast. I like it more than just a simple scaled-up spider.

      • Alice says:

        True.I especially love the idea that stood behind his rock design from Shelob's Lair.

      • flootzavut says:

        V unir whfg orra jngpuvat gur cbfg cebqhpgvba fghss ba EbgX, naq gurl pbzzragrq ba ubj gur fbhaq qrfvta npghnyyl nssrpgrq gur qrfvta bs ure zbhgu naq fghss. Fur ernyyl vf bar perrcl ohttre va gur zbivrf… n fpnyrqhc fcvqre jbhyq unir orra onq rabhtu ohg fur jnf fb zhpu jbefr…

    • Lugija says:

      Aren't they all technically fan-art? The difference is that Howe, Lee and co. get paid, but they are still fans.

      This reminds me of Eoin Colfer, who said that he felt like writing a fanfic when he wrote And Another Thing… (the sixth novel in The Hitchhiker's Quide to the Galaxy trilogy, wow, it has now as many books as another famous trilogy, LotR)

      • Seconding this! Really, they're all just fanboys playing in someone else's world, right?

        It reminds me of when my mum and aunt buy books like "Mr. Darcy Takes a Wife" and all I can think is YOU ARE PAYING TO READ FANFICTION RIGHT NOW GUYS. THAT'S WHAT THAT IS. RIGHT THERE. PUBLISHED FANFICTION.


      • Seumas the Red says:

        I had a double take at the words "I don't usually post fan art but…" Hmmm. The only non-fan-art art that I could possibly think of would be Tolkien's own illustrations for his books. Possibly the work of some early, paid illustrators; but after a decade or so all new LotR art not drawn by the author would be classed as fan-art. Because of its popularity.

        And Eoin Colfer was totally writing fan-fiction. Paid fan-fiction. And a bit unnecessary at that. (Dirk Maggs had already provided a suitable alternative ending by way of the extended radio series.)

    • threerings13 says:

      Does anyone else think that Phial of Galadriel looks a bit like….a uterus? Just me?

    • flootzavut says:

      That Alan Lee sketch of Galadriel is beautiful <3

      The less said about all the iterations of Shelob the better *shudder*

  18. Tauriel_ says:

    Tauriel's Linguistic Corner

    Catching up with what I missed in previous few chapters:


    Mindolluin – "Blue Tower". Quenya origin: mindon – "lofty tower", "great tower"; luin – "blue" (since the consonant group "nl" doesn't exist in Quenya, it's changed to "ll")


    Imlad Morgul – "Valley of Living Death", literally "Valley of Sorcery". Sindarin origin: imlad – "narrow valley" (same root as in "Imladris" – Rivendell); morgul – "sorcery".

    (con'd below)

  19. Tauriel_ says:


    At last I can post the meaning of the name "Cirith Ungol" 😀

    Cirith Ungol – "Spider's Pass". Sindarin origin: cirith – "pass", "cutting", "cleft"; ungol – "spider".
    Torech Ungol – "Spider's Lair". Sindarin origin: torech – "lair", "hole", "excavation"; ungol – "spider".
    Shelob – a combination of she and lob, which is an old English word for spider. So Shelob means "She-spider".
    Ungoliant – "The Great Spider". The Quenya version of her name is Ungoliantë or Ungweliantë, which probably stems from ungo – "cloud", "dark shadow" or ungwë – "spider's web".

    And here we have a whole sentence in Quenya:

    Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima! – "Hail Eärendil, brightest of the stars!"

    aiya – "hail" (greeting)
    elenion – "of the stars". Elen – "star"; eleni – "stars"; -on – plural genitive ending
    ancalimacalima – "bright"; an- – superlative prefix.

    Silm spoilers: Gurfr ner gur jbeqf jvgu juvpu Ëbajë, gur urenyq bs gur Inyne, terrgrq Räeraqvy jura Räeraqvy ragrerq Inyvabe gb cyrnq sbe gur Inyne'f uryc ntnvafg Zbetbgu.

    • BetB says:

      Thanks for your linguistics update. I really do like this stuff and I appreciate that you take the time to put it together for our enlightenment.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      I so much appreciate your patience in waiting till you could post the translations without spoiling anyone.

    • misterbernie says:

      an- – superlative prefix.

      *looks at own main conlang*

      • Seumas the Red says:

        I think we all do that sometimes: Curse you Tolkien for your linguical completeness!! 😛

        I named two of my continents after the now-nonexistent supercontinents of Laurasia and Gondwana. Of course, the suffix for "continent" was taken from my continent that on my world is mythical, which is called "Ûr"(named after an even older supercontinent). The suffix, through linguistic changes, became "-or".

        I think you can see where this is going.

        Anyway, I wrote down "Lauror" and "Gondwor" on my map, and then looked at it again. Then it clicked.

        I then later found out that the "-dor" of "Gondor" meant "place" or "land" (Gondor: Land of stone; Mordor: The black land; Dorthonion: Land of the pine-trees… usw…). And Tolkien's "gond" was apparently taken from an old Celtic language from a word meaning stone, and Gondwana is taken from a place-name in India. So, it was not too similar… But far too similar.

        I eventually compromised with "Laurus" and "Gondwin". Laurus had nothing to do with this, but if I was going to have one exception to the suffix rule, I might as well change its twin also.

        • Tauriel_ says:

          I've already explained the "-dor" being the ending meaning "land" in one of my previous Linguistic Corners. 🙂

          And another interesting thing, which helps to make Tolkien's legendarium a (fictional) history of our world is (mild Silm spoilers) ubj znal anzrf fbhaq fvzvyne gb anzrf sebz bhe erny jbeyq ynathntrf. Sbe vafgnapr Neqn – gur Jbeyq. Fbhaqf njshyyl yvxr "qvr Reqr", gur Trezna jbeq sbe Rnegu. Neqn – Reqr – Rnegu. 🙂 Nabgure avpr rknzcyr vf Aúzrabe – vgf Dhraln anzr hfrq nsgre vgf snyy vf Ngnynagë – "Qbjasnyyra" (sebz ynagn- – "snyy"). Fbhaqf na njshy ybg yvxr Ngynagvf – nabgure pbagvarag gung'f fhccbfrq gb or ohevrq orarngu gur bprna. 🙂 Be Ninyyóaë, gur rnfgreazbfg pvgl naq cbeg ba Gby Rerffën, gur Ybaryl Vfyr (vgf anzr zrnaf "arne Inyvabe"), juvpu jnf vanpprffvoyr qhr gb rapunagzragf uvqvat vg – zhpu yvxr Ninyba va gur Neguhevna yrtraq orvat uvqqra oruvaq na rapunagrq zvfg. 🙂 V ybir gurfr yvggyr guvatf. <3

          • Seumas the Red says:

            Indeed you did. 🙂 But I cannot remember how many chapters ago you covered it. Have I expressed my delight at each of your Linguistical Corners? I don't believe I have: So, thank you, it is very nice to have this chapter by chapter – rather than all at once all over the place. 😀

            Lrf, V ybir guvf! V qba'g guvax V abgvprq pbafpvbhfyl gur ersrerapr gb Ngynagvf ba zl svefg ernqvat, ohg Ninyyóaë V guvax V erpbtavfrq vzzrqvngryl. Naq ernyyl, gur jnl gung gurfr anzrf svg va vf ernyyl rkgerzryl farnxl! V zrna, jub jbhyq ybbx ng gur Qbjasnyy bs Aúzrabe naq vzzrqvngryl guvax: Nu, bs pbhefr guvf vf Gbyxvra'f irefvba bs Ngynagvf! Fb ur urycf lbh bhg n yvggyr ovg, ohg ernyyl ol gur gvzr lbh unir ernq gur jubyr bs gung frpgvba lbh ner vzzrefrq va Neqn naq abg guvaxvat bs vg nf Reqr nalzber. Ohg, jura V svefg pnzr npebff gur anzr "Neqn", V gubhtug vg jnf purngvat n yvggyr ovg – hagvy Ninyyóaë naq Ngnynagë. Gura vg znqr frafr. 🙂 Ur znxrf gurz irel zhpu uvf bja.

        • misterbernie says:

          Ahahaha, that's great. But major props for doing the derivation properly, I've made the typical mistake of making my main lang first and now have to painstakingly back-derive the proto-lang to make its sisters :/ (but I'm too attached to redo the main lang itself >_< )
          The best coincidence so far is that the protolang's *bʲlÌ©nā turns into birṇe in the sister lang, which looks almost like German Birne (pear) – though its meaning is 'know', so there ends the coincidence.

          It's also funny to me how seemingly copying Tolkien bothers me, but I have no problem stealing real language bits to give my languages a certain flavour (it's extremely /a/-y, but also has rounded front vowels, which makes people call it Sanskrit-Germanic, so I've also added some Finnish-ish morphemes to spice things up).

          • Seumas the Red says:

            Ha! Don't worry, I stole continent names from the real world to suit my purpose. Therein, of course, lies my most interesting coincidence: I have mentioned my continent of "Ûr", which I took from a name for a theoretical continent that paleo-geologists think existed… Or something. It was called Ur, and I thought: Good name, I like it. I shall use that name for my continent whence comes the creator. Of course, I had not made the connection to the German prefix meaning "primitive"/"primæval", nor to the Scottish Gaelic "úr' meaning new. (And the German and Gaelic words meaning "hour"). Given my obsession with time-travel; the continent being both mythical and real and therefore it being both the oldest continent and technically new – it seemed superfluously serendipitous.

            I have but one sister lang at the moment, and that was made through simple sound shifts. My wordsmithing tends to go very slowly (I can't have more than fifty words since 2006, when I started at the age of… 14? 13? I forget.) but my main lang is also my first constructed language, and many many changes have hindered it – as I have grown wiser and more knowledgeable – but also a lot of my work focusses on the alphabets, and the plotting of geography, and little bits of culture here and there. I get easily distracted from the language itself, it seems.

            I have taken a look at your blog, and I like the feel of your language. 😀 Very nice consonant inventory, and I like the orthography you have too. 🙂 You also seem to know more of the technical details of linguistics, so it interesting for me. And I can see where the Germanic-Sankrit comments come from, but I think this is no bad thing. 😀 Mine apparently sounds Celtic-Germanic, so at least yours travels farther afield! 😛

            Come to think of it, this is an appropriate place on the 'net to post my conlangs translation of the One Ring verse… Well, here it is, since I don't have a website yet of my own:

            matëarn karoch-Å‹a okëmnë, cûessat karoch-Å‹a okë,
            zherëan karoch-Å‹a okëmnë, mî therëar tsa noch okë.

            Copying Tolkien is totally not allowed. 😛 Copying from the sources he himself stole from… Well that's something else entirely. 😛 (Although I have stolen his use of the diaresis for ë, for romanisation only. 🙂 )

            • misterbernie says:

              That… seems like one of the few instances where the word serendipity can be righteously applied 😉

              I've done relatively little conworlding, and especially in the past couple years have focused mainly on Baranxe'i itself; the vocabulary list has close to 1500 entries (from ā and to źvutainen seventy*) , the point at which Excel stops being quite functional. I've also done at least two major revisions of the grammar and one to the vocabulary. The respective culture exists as a vague egalitarian-but-medieval society.
              I've tried about a dozen times to come up with a nice script for it, but my utter lack of artistic talent makes that a slow, painful process (it doesn't help that my handwriting is utter shit, anyways, so at some point it turns into squiggles indistinguishable from my actual writing 😐 )

              And thanks 😀 starting conlanging was what ultimately made me learn about linguistics, and it took me a good long while to start applying the proper terminology; my first drafts were a lot of "and this sounds like X in English".

              I always approve of syllable-initial /Å‹/ 😀 is the word order VSO? It looks like it could be VSO, if so, another Celtic point.
              I have never actually translated the One Ring verse… I don't even have a word for 'ring' yet (or 'bring' – but I can express "bilabial plosive" in it), but this is what it could be:

              mu tālu fiźīŋ hētīsar, mu tālu anertīsarseŋ
              mu tālu fiźīŋ maislīsar ā tumimul lauknīsarseŋ

              Though I now have to ponder whether I should use hētīr (rule n) or hētanu (ruling, participle) >.>

              * And to edit in, Baranxe'i's sister Asuāneica so far has about 100 entried, from aḍō sun, day (as opposed to night) to zuē seven.

              • Seumas the Red says:

                Just remembered, I do have a page, even if there is only one post on it so far. 🙂 Some history:… Ha! I'd forgotten about the Firefly reference I made…

                I think indeed it was the first instance of serendipity I have encountered. 😀 I was very pleased.

                And indeed, your wordcount is impressive! 😀 I keep meaning to collect my words digitally into some sort of database structure, and I had not thought of Excel. Or, the OpenOffice version of it. 😛 Not that I have many words, but for when I do. 🙂 I also haven't had any major revision to the grammar, because it is all rather fluid, as I find grammar terms rather tricky to grasp. Like swimming through treacle, as I like to say. 🙂 I have had fairly regular revisions to the alphabet, as I regard that as the keystone which holds all the style visually and phonologically. I might add though, that my handwriting is quite possibly worse than yours, even though I have not seen your handwriting. 🙂 I was careful though, to construct my alphabet in a way that one could not possibly create a cursive or joined up version of it, so that no matter how bad one's hand-writing is, the letters are still distinguishable from one another. 😛 Also, I spent six months on my first version of it, and change has been ongoing since 2004, even with my passable artistic skill. 😉 😛 And my culture thus far is sort of bronze age…

                Before I started learning about linguistics, i never thought I was much of a languages person. Now i know that I am a little bit of one. 🙂 I like observing the changes in languages. My grammar knowledge and linguistical technical knowledge grows slowly. 🙂

                Yay! I love initial /Å‹/ too! 😀 'nga' in this instance is the cardinal (?) number one, used as an emphatic singular. 🙂 (While we are on the subject, I always approve of the use of the glyphs ð and þ in orthographies. ) Do you have Å‹ on your keyboard? I did have it at one point, and then it vanished from my Alt Gr keys… It was sad…

                And yes, VSO. 🙂 A slight borrowing from Scottish Gaelic, but I thought I could improve on it, as a lot of the time Gaelic just put the infinitive "to be" out in front and then uses other verbs as sort of gerunds in SVO verb positions. So Gaelic looks to me to be more of a VSVO lang, except with irregular verbs, which do go in front. I was casting about in the early days for something "different", and I grew to like having the action as the first clause. But often I would forget that I was doing that, and so my early scribblings are all in SVO. 😛

                As for the One Ring verse, all I started with was the word "king", which produced the word "ruler" and then "to rule". I made up the rest as I went. It was a breakthrough. 😀 But, I didn't translate the other verbs as "to find", "to bring" or "to bind" – rather: "to hunt" "to draw together" and "to enslave". Because I thought that would be more menacing. 😀

                I'll leave you to decide which rule fits the sentence best. 😀

    • stormwreath says:

      Aiya Eärendil Elenion Ancalima! – "Hail Eärendil, brightest of the stars!"

      Random trivia: this is also perhaps the oldest expression in Tolkien's entire mythology. According to his biography, when he was a teenager he came across the following lines of Anglo-Saxon poetry:

      Eala Earendel engla beorhtast.
      Ofer middangeard monnum sended

      Hail, Earendel, brightest of angels
      Over Middle Earth sent to men"

      And it inspired him to think up a story about who Earendel actually was, why he was so bright, and why he was sent over the world to men. The result was, eventually, the Silmarillion, and then the Lord of the Rings.

    • flootzavut says:

      Ner gubfr gur jbeqf Sebqb hfrf va gur svyz nyfb? Vs V fnl gurz bhg ybhq vg fbhaqf nobhg evtug, ohg V'z abg fher. V nyjnlf jbaqrerq jung ur jnf fnlvat 🙂 sbe fbzr ernfba V thrff vg arire znqr na vzcerffvba gung vg zvtug or VA GUR OBBX YBY fbzrgvzrf V nz abg gung pyrire…

      • Tauriel_ says:

        Lrf, gurl ner, ohg uvf cebahapvngvba vf bss. Obgu Sebqb naq Tnynqevry zvfcebabhapr gur anzr Räeraqvy – gurl fnl vg nf "ru-era-qvyy", jurernf vg fubhyq or "ru-nu-era-qvyy". Bar bs gur guvatf gung vex zr nobhg gur svyzf, orpnhfr vg'f fbzrguvat gur ynathntr nqivfbef fubhyq or noyr gb fcbg n zvyr bss. Ba gur bgure unaq, jura Ivttb fvatf gur "Rg Räeryyb Raqberaan hgúyvra…" irefr va EBGX, ur cebabhaprf "Räeryyb" (juvpu vf qrevirq sebz gur fnzr fgrz nf Räeraqvy) pbeerpgyl. 🙂

        Gurer'f n jrocntr fbzrjurer gung nanylfrf nyy gur Ryivfu (obgu Fvaqneva naq Dhraln) gung'f fcbxra va gur svyzf – V'yy frnepu sbe vg, vg'f dhvgr vagrerfgvat.

        • flootzavut says:

          Ahhhh I see. V unir jbaqrerq gung rirel gvzr V frr gur zbivr naq vg unf arire bppheerq gb zr gung, uryyb, vg'f gurer va gur obbx. Q'bu.

          Lrf, gung vf n funzr, jura lbh pbafvqre nyy gur ynathntr fghss gung tbrf ba va gur zbivrf, gung vf fbzrguvat gung fubhyq or rnfl gb pbeerpg…

          Naq V abj whfg jnag gb fnl, guvf vf lrg nabgure ernfba gung IVTTB EBPXF.

    • arctic_hare says:


      Yeah, Ungoliante is why I knew what the name meant. Creeeeeeeeeeeepy. I love Frodo saying that line, too.

    • eruonna says:

      I just have to throw in this bit. Lob and cob (as in cobweb) are Old and Middle English words for spider. So when Bilbo taunted the spiders in Mirkwood with "Lazy lob and crazy cob", now you know what he meant.

  20. WindsName says:

    I would vote you for president.

  21. ADB says:

    I have to say I truly believe that Gollum was wrestling with whether or not to bring them directly to Shelob. I always read it as Sam, poor Sam, remaining suspicious and refusing to believe he[Gollum] had any worth, that made Gollum's mind up at that last pivitol moment in the last chapter, even after the encounter with Faramir disillusioned him.

    But that's me.

    • blossomingpeach says:

      It's interesting that it's two of the most gentle characters, Faramir and Sam, who push Gollum further down his path of betrayal. It adds more layers to character development and plot. Otherwise "good" characters can hurt people and make things worse.

    • rabidsamfan says:

      Gollum has been planning to bring Frodo and Sam to Shelob since the dead marshes. He might have had a moment of regret for it, but the encounter with Faramir didn't affect his plan one way or the other. (And yes, Sam's suspicions short-circuited any chance of redemption in that moment on the stairs, but it was a very slender thread anyway. And who knows how heavily Gollum's promise to Shelob would have weighed when they got to the tunnel?)

    • hazelwillow says:

      That is how I read it too.

      I wouldn't agree with Mark's comment that Sam was right the whole time. He was right to be suspicious, yes, but Frodo's belief that Smeagol had potential was true too. Frodo's way of dealing with Smeagol almost worked, it could have brought him fully on their side. Sam's attitude helped (a little) to ensure his suspicions came true. Like a self fulfilling prophesy.

      Not that Gollum isnt responsible for his actions, but I wouldnt say one side was right overall. Both were right, but i wish Frodo's way had succeeded.

    • Wheelrider says:

      But also note (one more thing I caught this time around and not previous reads): "Already, years before, Gollum had beheld her, Sméagol who pried into all dark holes, and in past days he had bowed and worshipped her, and the darkness of her evil will walked through all the ways of his weariness beside him, cutting him off from light and from regret."

      So it's not just the Ring, but Shelob herself that becomes a barrier to Sméagol getting "cured."

  22. Ryan Lohner says:

    And you were so sure that the "she" Gollum was talking about leading the Hobbits to was someone we'd met before…

  23. settledforhistory says:

    Ok, I actually felt bad for Gollum in the last chapter when he watched Frodo and Sam being the most awesome and cute friends. I thought at least to Frodo he would stay honest.
    Now I know Sam was right all along, that Gollum had been planing something sneaky all along.
    I could have continued to belive he had really changed if he at least had protected Frodo, because yes, Sam had been mean to Gollum and I did not expect a miracle.
    But feeding them to A GIANT MURDEROUS SPIDER? NO, JUST NO!
    There is only so much pity I can feel and I think I've reached my quota for Gollum.
    Not only does he lead the hobbits to their doom, he also intents to search their remains for the Ring.
    This is so unbelievably disgusting, I'm glad I never read this as a child.

    I agree with Mark: Spiders are bad enough in their normal size, why do writers have to enlarge them?
    And if it has to be a giant anything why can't it be a giant kitten? (Though I have a feeling Tolkien could turn even that scary.)

    Only one chapter and one book left. I really don't want this to end, ever. Time to invest in a few more Tolkien books!

  24. msw188 says:

    EVERYTHING'S FUCKED. The question is, how fucked? I'm pretty certain that if I had not read this before, I would be unable to stop after reading the last paragraph in this chapter.

    In other news, PITTSBURGH TOMORROW. Hopefully I will get the chance to meet some of you there and we can talk about how the Ring is the One Horcrux To Rule Them All, and what would happen if Saruman met and tried to use his Voice against Luna Lovegood. All while somehow trying to keep Mark unspoiled for Return of the King.

    • atheistsisters says:

      Oh man, that sounds fun. Saruman and Luna, ROFL.

    • SecretGirl127 says:

      Wow, you've made me wish I were in Pittsburgh tomorrow. I didn't think I'd ever long for Pittsburgh! Hershey, yes, but Pittsburgh? I must really like Mark/Mark Fans.

      • msw188 says:

        Hm, Pittsburgh has a handful of good things about it, but really only that one handful. Like rivers and bridges that are awesome (but terrible for traffic), and a good skyline, and a great hockey team. Aaaand well people are a bit friendlier than on the east coast maybe sometimes. But that's about it.

        If you're close to Hershey, Philadelphia's much closer, isn't it?

        • SecretGirl127 says:

          True, but to get to Hershey from California you have to first fly to Pittsburgh then take a puddle jumper to Philly. My only exerience with Pittsburgh was the airport. I really enjoyed both Philly and Hershey.

    • msw188 says:

      PERIOD: FEBRUARY 18TH, 2012




      • msw188 says:





        • msw188 says:










          1634: …


  25. cait0716 says:

    awww, that's cute!

  26. JustMalyn says:

    I have nothing to say except….YIKES. I literally just shuddered reading Mark's commentary, because Shelob/Furybo is THE SCARIEST THING ON THE PLANET. Oh Ron, I sympathize so much more with you….I'm so sorry if I ever laughed.

  27. That moment with Frodo raising the phial and walking toward Shelob is one of the best moments in the entire series. I think here we see the culmination of all the horrors in this place. I don't think it's a desperation move as much as it's an act of incredible, unspeakable courage. He knows that running is no use, acknowledges it. He can feel malice coming at him from Shelob and yet he still keeps going. I can't even come up with anything to add to that. Frodo Baggins, hobbit of the Shire. The most courageous and beautiful character ever to be seen. I know we all love Sam, but here and now there is no comparison. Frodo here takes upon himself the burden of going forward to face this thing that's causing him so much terror, despite everything he's taken on already. It would have been easy to stand still and just shake with terror. It would also have been easy to try and run. But once he sees that 'running is no use', he does what he has to do to keep Shelob at bay. He's wonderful. It's odd- on this re-read, I can honestly say that he is my favorite; before I would say I liked them all or something equally vague. But reading this through chapter by chapter- Frodo is a shining star in terms of the characters. No one else comes close to him.

    The one bit of humor I could find in this chapter:
    Sam: "Trapped in the end! Gnats in a net. May the curse of Faramir bite that Gollum and bite him quick!"
    Frodo: "That would not help us now."

    Oh Frodo, please be okay…

    • AmandaNekesa says:

      I'll second the Frodo love here. He really is such an amazing character – so full of courage and wisdom, and it's in such a quiet, humble way too. <3

  28. saphling says:

    Thankfully, the biggest (by mass) we have to deal with in modern-day Arda Marred is the Goliath Bird-Eating Spider

    <img src="; alt="Hi!" />

    And it's not deadly to humans. At worst, it will rub against you, releasing micro-barbs that cause skin irritation. It can have a legspan up to 30cm.

  29. SteelMagnolia80 says:

    Boo, I tried posting a photo of Hyperbole and a Half's Nazi Spider, which is my version of Shelob, but it wouldn't go through.

    ANYWAY…yeah, thanks Tolkien for years and years of arachnophobia. I still scream so high that only dogs can hear when I see one.

    And Gollum…*slow head shake* We were so getting there…why must you do this to our dearest Hobbits?? I am SO NOT SPEAKING TO YOU RIGHT NOW. EITHER ONE OF YOU.

  30. VoldieBeth says:

    So excited to see you in Cleveland on Sunday!! It will help me with all the updates I won't be getting over the weekend (I don't know how I survive the other weekends…)

    Ugh! Shelob! So creepy and awesome!!

  31. LarrikJ says:

    My favorite part is the description that Shelob is literally the MOTHER OF ALL SPIDERS. As in, every other spider in Middle-Earth is her spawn!

    Although why does EVERY non-human we meet have to be immortal (besides Orcs and Hobbits, of course)?

    • Dreamflower says:

      Except for Ungoliant her mother, who was ten times bigger and a thousand times worse…

      They aren't. Dwarves aren't, for one. And Ents, though long-lived are not. And I don't see any sign that Shelob is truly immortal– only very powerful and very long lived.

    • Katarina_H says:

      Because everything that isn't immortal is stew?

  32. Rheinman says:

    I made the misake of re-reading this chapter last night before bed and have had a nervous muscle twitch between my shoulder blades ever since.

    Don't mind me, I'm just going to stand with my back against the wall and my letter opener at the ready for the rest of the day.

  33. Marie the Bookwyrm says:


    And can I just say I feel worse about Gollum's betrayal after that 'humanizing' moment with him yesterday.

    Slightly off-topic: I just woke up about 40 minutes ago, looked at my clock and thought, 'Oh, no! I'm missing Mark's freak-out.". 😀

  34. Rheinman says:

    Re Golumn: I don't think he got the idea to feed them to Shelob until he led them to the Black Gate and Frodo asked if he knew another way in. I like to think he spent the journey through Ithillien debating whether to go through with it or not, but made up his mind after his rough treatment by Faramir's Rangers. Sam's comments just sealed the deal.

  35. It never fails to annoy me that one of the few strong female characters in this series is a ginormous evil spider.

    • msw188 says:

      Haha, ok look, the least that can be said for Tolkien is this: pretty much ALL of his female characters are strong. There's just so few of them altogether, but the only one who seems 'weak', as a character, is Goldberry. Maybe Arwen, but we really didn't spend any time with her, so it's hard to say. On the other hand, we've got:

      Lobelia Sackville-Baggins – nearly 'curdles' Frodo; successfully annoys pretty much every hobbit we meet in the Shire, and doesn't seem like she gives a damn; barges her way into Bag End early just to exclaim, "FUCK YES, OURS AT LAST!!! IT ONLY TOOK SEVENTY-SEVEN YEARS!!!" I'm sorry, but this is awesome

      Luthien – we only hear about this chick, but according to the story she saves Beren's sorry ass from Sauron after he got himself captured…? (see Silmarillion for more details) Also contributes to stealing some kind of powerful thing from The Enemy, who seems to be even more powerful than Sauron…? (again, see Sil)

      Galadriel – inspires awe and/or fear in pretty much everybody who isn't Gandalf or Elrond; called together the first White Council; calls out her mate/Lord (?) for his shitty words to Gimli, and he pretty much immediately admits he was being an asshole; gives Frodo the Light that has basically saved his life twice now, whereas the mithril coat and Sting have only saved him once each; is the only character, again besides Gandalf, who has flat out refused the Ring even when it was OFFERED TO HER

      Eowyn – not much to say yet, but she is basically appointed VICE PRESIDENT of an entire kingdom and nobody bats an eye

      Arwen – I'd say it's not fair to call her weak at this point, because the story seems to imply that she's got Aragorn's number, and I'm guessing it takes a strong woman to get that

      Shelob – vomits darkness; wants to eat everything; has horns; scares the fuck out of pretty much anyone and anything; oh wait, she's a giant spider

      So what I'm saying is that if we think about 'strong' female characters, these actually make up a very large majority of the female characters in the book so far. It's just that there are so few females period. Hm, I'll admit that this response wasn't really necessary to what you were saying. But it was fun to make that list.

      • stefb4 says:

        Galadriel – inspires awe and/or fear in pretty much everybody who isn't Gandalf or Elrond; called together the first White Council; calls out her mate/Lord (?)

        I believe the correct term would be husband, lol

        But yes! I love that almost all of Tolkien's female characters are so strong, despite there not being a bunch. WHY CAN'T THERE BE EVIL FEMALES? HMM?! Wait does Shelob actually vomit darkness? (I didn't reread this chapter yet)–I know Ungoliant her mother did, although I can't recall Shelob doing that.

  36. saphling says:


  37. PrefectSarah says:

    "I think it should be international law that spiders should never be enlarged in fiction for any reason ever for all time. This is what I will decree when I am President of the Universe, which I am now campaigning for. In a universe under my rule, there will never be large spiders by which authors can terrify us."


    Siriusly, spiders terrify me more than anything else on the planet. Even itty bitty ones are awful. Anytime there's a giant spider in a book or movie, I have to skip past it or shut my eyes till it's over. Because of NIGHTMARES FOREVER!! If you could get rid of giant spiders forever, Mark, I'd vote for you!

    • SteelMagnolia80 says:

      Oh yeah, I just got back from the Wizarding World of Harry Potter and I am completely not ashamed to admit that I simply shut my eyes during the "spiders in the dark forest jumping out at you" part of the ride. What of it…

  38. Depths_of_Sea says:

    Oh hey, it's my least favorite chapter of the books and one of the things I blame my arachnophobia on.

    Seriously, regular spiders are bad enough. Giant spiders are worse. A giant, ugly, intelligent hellspawn she-demon in the shape of a spider that can actively hunt you down is the face of my nightmares forever.

  39. JustMalyn says:

    Ahahaha YES.

  40. rabidsamfan says:

    I don't think Gollum planned to get caught way back at the Emyn Muil, but he certainly started plotting to bring Frodo and Sam to Shelob way back in the Dead Marshes. He's had chances to change his mind since, but his greed for the Ring has overruled them for the most part, and the one moment of real regret he had on the stairs was cut off by Sam's (not unreasonable) suspicion.

    • Dreamflower says:

      And even then, even if he had not startled Sam into his harsh words, I don't think his repentance would have lasted very long– not when he'd seen a chance to get Precious back…

      • rabidsamfan says:

        *nod* Yes. I pity Gollum, but I think he's been lying to himself for so long he doesn't know anything else.

    • msnaddie says:

      If I hadn't read the letters from Tolkien on the matter of Gollumn's possible repentance, I would've agreed with this. Ohg ernqvat gur nygreangr "jung pbhyq unir orra" jvgu gur raq bs gur Evat vf rira jbefr xabjvat gung Tbyyhz jbhyq'ir "erqrrzrq" uvzfrys ng gur raq, jura vg znggref gur zbfg.

      Here's the comments on Tolkien's letters on this matter, should you care to read though (taken from a comment from yesterday's discussion):

      "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."

      • rabidsamfan says:

        I've read that bit, but knowing that Tolkien wrote as the story went along (and being someone who does that myself) I think that ur unqa'g pbafvqrerq ubj gb trg cnfg Furybo jvgu n ersbezrq Tbyyhz. Nyfb, ur unqa'g dhvgr tvira Fnz rabhtu znghevgl lrg gb gehyl svaq cvgl sbe Tbyyhz ol gur fgnvef. Gurer'f uvagf bs vg — Fnz bssrerq gb znxr svfu naq puvcf sbe Tbyyhz va Vguvyvra, naq jbaqrerq nobhg Tbyyhz'f ivrj bs uvzfrys va gur gnyr ba gur fgnvef — ohg vg vfa'g gurer lrg. Va n jnl, Snenzve'f neeviny vagreehcgrq gur ortvaavatf bs n qrgragr orgjrra Fnz naq Tbyyhz gung zvtug unir gnxra gur fgbel va n qvssrerag qverpgvba.

        Ohg gung'f n zvtug-unir orra. N inyvq bar, (nf V'ir abgrq va snasvp) fvapr Tnaqnys oevatf guerr rntyrf nybat nsgre gur qrfgehpgvba bs gur Evat jura ur'f ubcvat gb cvpx hc fheivibef.

        • msnaddie says:

          Yes, pity and trust from Frodo alone wouldn't have done much when others mistrust you as well. I understand why Sam treats Gollum the way he did, considering his love of Frodo and his protective nature in general, which doesn't mean I agree with it – but who's to say I wouldn't have treated Gollum the same way if I were in his shoes? And yes I think in the beginning Sam did make an effort to treat Gollum the way Frodo does, but his mistrust grew with all the knowledge of Gollum's "split personality" which Frodo didn't really get to witness. (V ungr gur zbivr'f gerngzrag bs gur jubyr Fnz-Tbyyhz qlanzvp, gubhtu!)

          God, how do you do make us feel pity for Gollum, Tolkien?! You're kind of an evil manipulator.

        • Steve Morrison says:

          Well, he wasn’t entirely making it up as he went along; here is what he said in one letter about his writing process:

          It would have been a big task without anything else; but I have been a moderately conscientious administrator and teacher, and I changed professorships in 1945 (scrapping all my old lectures). And of course during the War there was often no time for anything rational. I stuck for ages at the end of Book Three. Book Four was written as a serial and sent out to my son serving in Africa in 1944. The last two books were written between 1944 and 48. That of course does not mean that the main idea of the story was a war-product. That was arrived at in one of the earliest chapters still surviving (Book I, 2). It is really given, and present in germ, from the beginning, though I had no conscious notion of what the Necromancer stood for (except ever-recurrent evil) in The Hobbit, nor of his connexion with the Ring. But if you wanted to go on from the end of The Hobbit I think the ring would be your inevitable choice as the link. If then you wanted a large tale, the Ring would at once acquire a capital letter; and the Dark Lord would immediately appear. As he did, unasked, on the hearth at Bag End as soon as I came to that point. So the essential Quest started at once. But I met a lot of things on the way that astonished me. Tom Bombadil I knew already; but I had never been to Bree. Strider sitting in the corner at the inn was a shock, and I had no more idea who he was than had Frodo. The Mines of Moria had been a mere name; and of Lothlórien no word had reached my mortal ears till I came there. Far away I knew there were the Horse-lords on the confines of an ancient Kingdom of Men, but Fangorn Forest was an unforeseen adventure. I had never heard of the House of Eorl nor of the Stewards of Gondor. Most disquieting of all, Saruman had never been revealed to me, and I was as mystified as Frodo at Gandalf’s failure to appear on September 22. I knew nothing of the Palantíri, though the moment the Orthanc-stone was cast from the window, I recognized it, and knew the meaning of the ‘rhyme of lore’ that had been running in my mind: seven stars and seven stones and one white tree. These rhymes and names will crop up; but they do not always explain themselves. I have yet to discover anything about the cats of Queen Berúthiel. But I did know more or less all about Gollum and his part, and Sam, and I knew that the way was guarded by a Spider.

          In another letter (#181) he had this to say about Gollum and whether we should pity him:

          Into the ultimate judgement upon Gollum I would not care to enquire. This would be to investigate ‘Goddes privitee’, as the Medievals said. Gollum was pitiable, but he ended in persistent wickedness, naq gur snpg gung guvf jbexrq tbbq jnf ab perqvg gb uvz. His marvellous courage and endurance, as great as Frodo and Sam’s or greater, being devoted to evil was portentous, but not honourable. I am afraid, whatever our beliefs, we have to face the fact that there are persons who yield to temptation, reject their chances of nobility or salvation, and appear to be ‘damnable’. Gurve ‘qnzanovyvgl’ vf abg zrnfhenoyr va gur grezf bs gur znpebpbfz (jurer vg znl jbex tbbq). But we who are all ‘in the same boat’ must not usurp the Judge. The domination of the Ring was much too strong for the mean soul of Sméagol. But he would have never had to endure it if he had not become a mean sort of thief before it crossed his path. Need it ever have crossed his path? Need anything dangerous ever cross any of our paths? A kind of answer cd. be found in trying to imagine Gollum overcoming temptation. The story would have been quite different! By temporizing, not fixing the still not wholly corrupt Sméagol-will towards good in the debate in the slag hole, he weakened himself for the final chance when dawning love of Frodo was too easily withered by the jealousy of Sam before Shelob’s lair. After that he was lost.

          • rabidsamfan says:

            Now you 've got me wanting to get the Letters. I do have HoME, at least for the LotR part, and I don't think Sam shows up in the earliest versions of Fellowship, so it's fascinating that Tolkien kind of thinks of him as having always been there.

            • fantasy_fan says:

              The Letters are just wonderful. In reading HOME, you see the process, what was rejected and what was expanded. But in Letters, you get the reflection of the master on his work of decades. (Not to mention that it's wonderful to read a good 10,000 word letter or two, just candy for people like us.)

  41. LadyViridis says:

    I know that this book was written decades before I was born, but I think it should be international law that spiders should never be enlarged in fiction for any reason ever for all time.

    This is unintentionally hilarious to me because the first story I ever started real work on is based on Japanese myths, and (you guessed it) features a giant spider as an early encounter. 😀 It's called a Joro-gumo, and according to Japanese myth, it's not just a giant spider, it's a giant spider that hides in pools of water, attaches a string of web to a stump or something, waits for a traveler to sit down and rest, and then yanks the whole thing into the water. Also, sometimes they appear as beautiful women or pregnant women and try to seduce travelers.

    Also, it's part of the basis for the Skulltula enemies in the Legend of Zelda! Like, they have actual spiders in Japan that kind of look like they have faces on their back. I found a picture and it is SUPER CREEPY but kind of cool at the same time:

    /random mythology

    Also, all I can think of when I hear 'giant spider' now is this:

    <img src=""&gt;

  42. fantasy_fan says:

    Mark, this is the chapter where I figured the odds were better than 50-50 that we’d get a AIM-style review like you did for Harry Potter a couple of times. If you could stop reading at the end of this chapter and not immediately turn the page, you have an unbelievable strength of will and I bow down before you. There’s exposition in this chapter, but it also has a ton of plot, irrevocable choices by the characters, actions and their consequences that change everything, and there is no going back from here. And it has lurking Orcs! Horrible stench and darkness! Crushing fear, and unbelievable courage and strength in two very special hobbits! A monstrous, nightmare beast! Sickening, long-planned treachery and betrayal revealed! And the last line, “So far Gollum’s plot had succeeded.”

    So I gather you don’t like spiders? 😀 😀 😀 Me either. Eight foot tall ones, especially (think about that – its worse when you are only three feet tall). And Tolkien spends too much time describing the horrible history of this one, in loving detail. If evil was to become incarnate, a spider is a totally believable form for it to take. Not only that, a female spider who can eat her incestuous mates and spread her spawn over Middle-earth. The mother trope turned on its head, which I think just ups the evil quotient. (When you read The Hobbit, did you ever wonder where the Mirkwood spiders came from? Are you sorry now that you know?) You did say a couple of chapters ago you were eager to meet another female character. Be careful what you wish for!

    Ready to turn the page to tomorrow’s chapter?

    Just remember, you are unprepared. And also, that we’re all here for you. <B

    • flootzavut says:

      "You did say a couple of chapters ago you were eager to meet another female character. Be careful what you wish for!"

      BWAHAHAHAHAHA Another MarkReads prediction comes true IN THE WORST POSSIBLE WAY!

  43. Lugija says:

    Did everyone think Shelob as a big spider when they first read this?
    Because I didn't. After reading everything Tolkien said about it, my mind couldn't believe that it looked "only" like a big spider. It should be a monster like never seen after it. So I pictured it with a very long back-body, which maybe wobbled up and down (menacingly) while it moved, darkness moving around it so that you couldn't get a good look of it, and it didn't move that fast. And of course it had a sting somewhere. I don't even like horror, and still I pictured it like this when I was about 11.

    I have once seen how spider kills a fly. I sat in a privy, which has a spider web in a window, and a fly, after hitting it's head to the window a couple of times, was trapped in the net. Spider ran from it's corner, grapped the fly, and… well, it took some time. Good thing that was last summer and not when I was 11.

    • Lugija says:

      Oh yes, for those who read "I sat in a privy" and waited for the punchline: There were no bricks involved. Sorry.

    • Seumas the Red says:

      I must admit, when I first saw the movies, I thought: She's just a giant spider? But then again, I also didn't pick up on the fact that Oliphaunts were Elephants until I saw the movie. I was only eight when I first read the books though, and I did read very quickly. 🙂

  44. ZeynepD says:

    So it turns out that I'm arachnophobic. And I read The Lord of the Rings before either The Hobbit or The Chamber of Secrets, so Shelob is the original DO NOT WANT.

    …except she's described as the "…last child of Ungoliant to trouble the unhappy world…" so she is not really the original DO NOT WANT in the Middle Earth mythology.

    In conclusion, much DO NOT WANT.

    But now let's talk about brighter things, such as the light of Earendil and Frodo's courage.

    Then Frodo’s heart flamed within him, and without thinking what he did, whether it was folly or despair or courage, he took the Phial in his left hand, and with his right hand drew his sword. Sting flashed out, and the sharp elven-blade sparkled in the silver light, but at its edges a blue fire flickered. Then holding the star aloft and the bright sword advanced, Frodo, hobbit of the Shire, walked steadily down to meet the eyes.

    "Without thinking…whether it was folly or despair or courage." In other words, without second-guessing himself, Frodo goes to do the only thing that can be done at that point: Confront the shadow in the dark. Because otherwise there is no way out. One of Arya's refrains in A Song of Ice and Fire come to mind: "Fear cuts deeper than swords." Fear can paralyze you if you let it. And bravery, courage, is not the absence of fear; it is rather mastery of fear.

    Tolkien's choice of words there is rather interesting, I think: "folly or despair or courage." It's relatively easier to figure out why he mentioned courage, but what about folly, or despair? At the top level you could say, well, it might have been foolish to go towards the thing that went bump in the dark, or he was despairing because he had no other choice. But I don't have that settled in my mind, and I would like to talk about it here…

    • flootzavut says:

      "One of Arya's refrains in A Song of Ice and Fire come to mind: "Fear cuts deeper than swords." Fear can paralyze you if you let it. And bravery, courage, is not the absence of fear; it is rather mastery of fear."

      This is one of the reasons Donna Noble is my favourite Doctor Who companion: I can't think of a less cheesy way to put it… she feels the fear and does it anyway.

    • Dreamflower says:

      "Folly, despair and courage".

      "Folly" has a special meaning in LotR (and it's kind of theological and related to JRRT's own faith). Remember that Gandalf says in Rivendell that the mission is folly. Naq bs pbhefr gurer vf gur yvar nobhg "sbby'f ubcr" znqr gb Cvccva yngre ba. This doesn't mean that that the task should not be taken on, but that you have to trust (or have faith) that where reason and might will fail, "folly" or trusting in weakness could have a hope of succeeding. And when you consider that symbolically Christ is often depicted as The Fool, you get another notion of what JRRT himself calls the Author (NOT meaning himself, BTW.)

      "Despair" OTOH, is depicted as something to overcome. Jr frr guvf zbfg boivbhfyl va gur pbagenfg orgjrra Gurbqra naq Qrargube: bar birepnzr qrfcnve naq jnf erqrrzrq, gur bgure tnir va gb qrfcnve naq sryy.

      Which is where Frodo's courage at this point comes in. It's folly to walk toward a powerful enemy, but he overcomes his despair by acting on that folly, and that is courage.

      At least, that's how I see that particular phrase working out.

      • msw188 says:

        I really like this line of thought. All that said, I think that part of the point in this particular passage is that Frodo does NOT consider any of these things. In the moment, reason and fear are both ignored, as is conscious courage. All that the mind works on in the moment is action.

        • jne says:

          I think this is literally true. I've read recently that the neurons in our brain that start are muscles in action in response to a stimulus actually activate BEFORE the neurons that indicate an intention is formed to do the action.

  45. SecretGirl127 says:

    This is one of those chapters that I've forgotten because I have seen the movie so many times that I have that version in my head as the gospel. It was like reading it for the first time again. Spiders. Yuck.

  46. Becky says:

    When I was younger, I was terrified of spiders. It didn't matter how small they were, or how far away from me they were, if I saw a spider I would freak out.
    So I am fully in support of the International No Large Spiders in Fiction Law.

    When I first read this book when I was about 12 I had nightmares about giant spiders in caves trying to eat me for days. I reread the series a few months ago and I STILL purposely stopped where I was before this chapter because I didn't want to read it right before bed.

    Your will power to stop yourself at the end of this chapter is impressive, good sir.

  47. Appachu says:

    Movie spoilers: V pna'g jngpu guvf fprar va gur zbivrf. V whfg pna'g. Juvpu vf n tbbq guvat – gurl qvq fhpu n tbbq wbo bs znxvat Furybo greevslvat gung gur svefg gvzr V jngpurq EbgX V ohevrq zl snpr va n cvyybj naq gbyq zl zbgure gb gryy zr jura V pbhyq ybbx. (Naq gura gurer jnf gur anfgl snxrbhg jurer fur gubhtug gur fprar jnf bire naq V ybbxrq hc naq gura Furybo pnzr onpx….bu tbq avtugznerf sberire.) V pna'g unaqyr rira gur yvggyr barf va erny yvsr naq jura tvnag rivy barf fubj hc ba zl fperra V whfg ybfr vg.

    Juvpu vf n pbzcyvzrag gb gur cebqhpref, bs pbhefr, orpnhfr V unq ab ceboyrz jvgu gur Nentbt fprar va Punzore bs Frpergf be gur Enpabff va "Gur Ehanjnl Oevqr". Gubfr whfg ybbxrq negvsvpvny naq, va gur pnfr bs gur Enpabff, n ovg evqvphybhf. Zbivr!Furybo vf gbb erny. Vg'f yvxr gurl bcrarq hc zl urnq naq chyyrq bhg rirel yvggyr greevslvat guvat gung tbrf guebhtu zl zvaq jura V frr n erny fcvqre, ghearq vg hc gb ryrira, naq gura guerj vg ba gur fperra va tybevbhf qrgnvy. Fb vg'f n tbbq guvat, ohg V fgvyy pna'g jngpu vg.

    gy;qe – BU TBQ FCVQREF JUL

    • Ryan Lohner says:

      Naq gurer'f gur zhfvp va gung fprar, jvgu Ubjneq Fuber trggvat gb tb onpx gb uvf ebbgf nf Qnivq Pebaraoret'f erthyne pbzcbfre.

      Vg jnfa'g n fhecevfr ng nyy jura V yrnearq Crgre Wnpxfba vf nenpuabcubovp. Lbh arrq gung xvaq bs srne lbhefrys gb znxr n fprar guvf greevslvat.

      • You Are Not Alone says:

        Va gur rkgenf, gurl gnyx nobhg ubj gur qrfvtaref nfxrq CW gur guvatf nobhg fcvqref gung fpner uvz gur zbfg. Ur zragvbarq ubj bar bs gur jbefg guvatf vf jura gurl jbhyq or fvggvat va n ubyr jvgu bayl vgf yrtf cbxvat bhg. Fb gung vzntr jnf chg va gur zbivrf.

    • flootzavut says:

      "Vg'f yvxr gurl bcrarq hc zl urnq naq chyyrq bhg rirel yvggyr greevslvat guvat gung tbrf guebhtu zl zvaq jura V frr n erny fcvqre, ghearq vg hc gb ryrira, naq gura guerj vg ba gur fperra va tybevbhf qrgnvy."

      Agree SO MUCH.

    • Laurelluin says:

      V nyjnlf gubhtug gur Furybo va gur EbgX zbivr jnf gbb fznyy. Va zl zvaq, fur'f ovt rabhtu gb rng na byvcunhag naq fgvyy jnag n pbhcyr bs uboovgf sbe chqqvat nsgrejneqf.

  48. @silmerin says:

    It's been a long time since I read this chapter, so I'd kind of forgotten how INCREDIBLY FUCKING TERRIFYING it is. I mean… you can remember a thing is scary, but you don't REMEMBER it until you're reading a review of it which wants to make you dive under the covers (and stay there forever) all by itself. Oh god, Shelob.


  49. threerings13 says:

    I couldn't stop with this chapter last night, so I finished TTT. And so I don't want to say anything because SPOILERS.

    But since we're talking about spiders… I live in the woods in rural Texas. When we moved out here, every spring we would get an infestation of garden spiders. They are really scary looking, but harmless. And we would get them all over our land. One of them wove a web right in our window. I watched her weave it, then I watched her eat her web when a storm was coming. One day a cicada landed in her web and there was an epic battle between the spider and the cicada. The spider won, but lost a leg. After that we called her Seven. She ate off that cicada for a couple of weeks.

    After a couple of months, Seven laid an egg sac and died. The next year, one of her children made a web in the same window. That year one of the spiders made a web right next to our front door. By then we weren't bothered by them at all. But one of my friends came to visit and said, "Oh, you have your Halloween decorations up already!" (It was September, I think) When I told her the huge black and yellow spider was real she FREAKED. Oops.

    But then the spiders stopped coming. We had them every summer for about three years, but then they haven't been back. I miss them.

    • sudden_eyes says:

      One of my nephews let a funnel spider nest in his room (very wildlife-friendly household, but still). When his girlfriend was coming to visit for the first time, I did suggest he remove it …

    • Geolojazz says:

      We had a guest on our porch as well. Striped and huge, but she kept to herself. Made a mess of the deck (with her droppings, we think…spider poo?)

      We planned to remove the porch railings, and of course that being her home, we were concerned for her. She stuck to one of the railings as we moved it though, and placed it beside the house. She was disturbed and anxious, but alive. Don't know where she ended up…

    • saphling says:

      We had a garden spider like that on our patio door one year! She was beautiful!

    • flootzavut says:

      EEK. Harmless or not I can see why she was freaked 😮

      Movie spoiler: Gb zvfdhbgr Zreel, "Jul qb V nyjnlf unir gb YBBX?"

  50. Sakura says:

    I wonder if having Tolkien read to me as a child had any bearing on me becoming an arachnophobe later in life. This chapter is so creepy and intense.

    • divAndRule says:

      For a moment there I thought Tolkien read to you when you were a child. Then I thought How lucky and then wait old is she? , then I realised I was being silly 🙂

      • flootzavut says:

        I misread it that way too!

        • rlanto says:

          Perhaps we are subconsciously predicting a deep desire. Oh, to have Tolkien read this to me.

          • flootzavut says:

            Oh, I don't think there's any “perhaps” about it 🙂

            • rlanto says:

              Conceded. If he were to have read this to me as a child, I am sure I would have been totally scarred OR completely inspired to be an awesome writer. Or both.

              • flootzavut says:

                OK, end of RotK spoilers, but:

                My auntie babysat for Christopher Tolkien's children many, many years ago. first time she went there Puevfgbcure jnf ernqvat gb uvf 6 lrne byq fba gur cneg nobhg Sebqb trggvat uvf svatre ovggra bss ol Tbyyhz. Fur jnf gbgnyyl ubeevsvrq!

                • rlanto says:

                  WOW! Did she know about LotR yet? Or was she just in the right place at the right time? Because, I'm pretty sure, I would have had a nerdgasm.

                  • flootzavut says:

                    In one of those horrible ironies of life, she has never read and has no interest in reading LOTR, or seeing the movies! She's *thinks* nearing 80; my mum was the youngest of 8 children, and Pat was one of the eldest. She just happened to be their babysitter. She talked about the family moving to France to do something with JRRT's papers etc, which is what helped us narrow it down to Christopher.

                    I did have a total nerdgasm when I found out. Amusingly, I was at her house, reading LOTR at the time – she just happened to mention it to my mum when they were talking about their memories 🙂

  51. Jordan says:

    Ever since reading His Dark Materials, whenever JRRT uses the word "Presently" I always think of Phillip Pullman

    • Hailey says:

      Ditto. XD

    • Alberthe says:

      Whenever ANYONE uses the word 'presently,' I now think of Pullman. I read lots of Victorian literature for my studies, and the word is all over the place. Every time I see it, it's like I hear this little 'ding!' sound;)

  52. saphling says:

    HOLY FUCK. *giggles helplessly* That is terrifying.

  53. tardis_stowaway says:

    If I were coming to this book completely unspoiled and reading this chapter for the first time, I think my review would go something like this:


    Because honestly, that's still pretty much my feelings right now on the umpteenth rereading. This chapter is utter nightmare fuel. First, you have the immersive descriptions of the deep, stinking darkness in the tunnels. Being so completely without sight in a place that is so clearly dangerous, not to mention branching, is really scary to me. Then the darkness proves to be inhabited, and not just by orcs. It's a GIANT MOTHERFUCKING SPIDER!!! Giant spiders are always scary, but the way Tolkien describes Shelob goes beyond creepy and disturbing straight to brain-scarring horror.

    (It does bother the biologist in me every time when Tolkien describes her "soft, squelching body." SPIDERS HAVE EXOSKELETONS. THEY DO NOT SQUELCH. But I guess if you are a giant man-eating spider from before the era of Sauron you play by your own rules.)

    We've been waiting for you to get to old Furybo here for ages. PREPARATION WAS NEVER AN OPTION.

    • MsSmeagol says:

      Maybe the squelching sounds come from all the bodies and blood she has devoured and keep in her belly? UGH.

  54. divAndRule says:

    I think that Frodo was rebelling against his fear. They had been terrified for so long that Frodo finally says that enough is enough, he is not going to be afraid anymore, even if it means that he is going to die. Whether this is folly or courage I am not sure.

  55. blossomingpeach says:

    WHY? WHY?

  56. Ryan Lohner says:

    They say that laughter is the best cure for fear, so: ridikkulous!

    [youtube sHzdsFiBbFc youtube]

  57. flootzavut says:


    • knut_knut says:

      Please tell me that’s someone’s pet tarantula that escaped and not something they found living in their house. They should have just locked the doors and burnt the house down, to be honest. And then moved far, far away.

    • JustMalyn says:


  58. Hailey says:

    Cirith Ungol translates into 'Spider's Stair'. Just WAIT Til you get to the movie. Its…. horrifying.

  59. arctic_hare says:

    we hates spiders, precious. we hates them. especially since we thinks that the things hanging down were armses of dead orcses. or heads. do not want.

    One of my most vivid childhood memories is of seeing a tarantula in my backyard. Big enough that it could be seen moving from the upstairs window. YEESH.

    Sil stuff: Lrnu, Furybo vfa'g rira gur jbefg bar, ure zbgure'f rira jbefr. Ungr Hatbyvnagr, netu. Fur fhpxrq bhg gur yvtug bs gur gerrf. 🙁 NAQ TERJ GB N FVMR NAQ FUNCR FB UVQRBHF GUNG RIRA ZRYXBE JNF NSENVQ. V zrna, ybbx jub jr'er gnyxvat nobhg urer! Zvtugvrfg bs gur Nvahe! Vs rira ur vf nsenvq bs ure, ubj shpxvat greevslvat zhfg fur gehyl or? V qba'g jnag gb xabj, V'z xvaqn tynq V'yy yvxryl arire frr ure ba svyz. Gung jbhyq znxr svyz Furybo (jub vf cerggl qnza fpnel urefrys) ybbx yvxr n gval syhssl ohaal va pbzcnevfba. Nyfb, V pna'g trg gur cneg jurer fur nggnpxf uvz orpnhfr fur jnagf gur Fvyznevyf, yrnqvat gb gung nern bs gur jbeyq orvat pnyyrq gur Ynzzbgu orpnhfr gur rpubrf bs uvf ibvpr nf ur pevrq bhg fghpx nebhaq sberire, bhg bs zl urnq. Fpnel fuvg.

    Juvpu znxrf vg nyy gur zbivat gb zr gung Sebqb ubyqf bss Furybo sbe n gvzr jvgu gur cuvny gung Tnynqevry tnir uvz, bs yvtug sebz Rneraqvy, jub ubyqf gur bayl Fvyznevy abg ybfg (gur fnzr bar, va snpg, gung Orera fgbyr sebz Zbetbgu). Gung fbzr bs gur Yvtug bs Gur Gerrf, uryq jvguva gur Fvyznevy naq gura va gung cuvny, tngurerq sebz Rneraqvy nf ur ornef vg, fubhyq fgnl bar bs gur fcnjaf bs gur guvat gung qrfgeblrq gur gerrf, vf n cbjreshy vzntr sbe zr. Rfcrpvnyyl jura Sebqb fnlf jung Rbajr fnvq gb Rneraqvy nf ur neevirq va Inyvabe. Cerqvpgnoyl, V nyfb ybir gur ersrerapr gb ubj Orera cnffrq guebhtu Qhatbeguro ba uvf jnl gb Qbevngu, whfg cevbe gb zrrgvat Yhguvra.

    • knut_knut says:

      AHH!! WHERE DID YOU GROW UP? Memo to self: do not go there

    • msw188 says:

      Hm, I missed this earlier. V qba'g guvax V rire xarj juvpu Fvyznevy jnf fgbyra sebz gur Pebja, naq V qrsvavgryl arire gubhtug nobhg gur snpg gung guvf yvtug pnzr sebz gur fnzr guvat Hatbyvnag jnagrq gb rng sbe HYGEN LHZZL FANPX. Rira gubhtu Gbyxvra RZCUNFVMRF gung Sebqb univat guvf yvtug vf yvxr n pbagvahngvba bs gur fgbel bs Yhguvra naq Orera. Bbcf. Ohg lbh'er evtug, gung yraqf rira zber cbjre gb gur fprar (abg gung vg arrqrq vg).

    • stefb4 says:

      I love your Sil fangirling. It seems a lot of people on here who've read it are like OH BUT WAIT THIS AND THIS IS WORSE and then go into a lengthy rot'd explanation of something vaguely related to the subject. I've done it. It is fun and now you are ~one of us~ 🙂

      I think I would die of happiness if Mark ever decided to review the Sil. MORE TOLKIEN = MORE FUN AND TRAGEDY Y/Y/Y?

  60. notemily says:

    Rather than posting GIANT FUCKING SPIDERS JESUS CHRIST YOU GUYS, I will just post this:

    <img src=""&gt;

    Also, I've been listening to way too much Modest Mouse recently.

    <img src="; width="600">

  61. icy says:

    I know others have said it, but Mark, I don't think you were completely wrong. This is one of the things I love about this book, actually, that what we realize here is that this journey we thought was Frodo and Sam's journey was also Gollum's journey. The ring is a character, exerting its pull on Gollum throughout and destroying any chance he had at breaking free of its influence. But I think the moments of sweetness and care we saw from Gollum on this journey weren't deliberate manipulation but a true conflict of his war with himself and his loyalty.

    And I do think Gollum had an epic almost unwinnable battle. It's that thing about things being easier to do the more you do them. Frodo is still able to withstand the pull and draw of the ring, but he has never really succumbed to its corruption. But Gollum, he spent years and years completely in its power. But he still wasn't completely lost to it–he could have a relationship with Frodo. I do think there were other places along this journey where he could have abandoned Sam and Frodo to their fate and come back later to pick over their bones, and he still chose to help.

    I do think Sam and Frodo lost Gollum in two steps–with the capture at the caves (which was a betrayal of trust, even if done for the best of reasons), and the "sneak" comment. Even here, though, Tolkien portrays Gollum making choices and that I also like. His choices were hard, and maybe he was too weak after all and could only succumb to his base desire, but it was still a choice.

    Ahh…I just see him as so tragic, and pitiable here, because here he really commits to walking away from companionship and interaction and relationships because of his lust and greed. Caught up in his jnag gnxr unir (spoilers for Buffy) he loses everything. Tolkien is a master.

  62. Hailey says:

    You Know what, I think my book needs some GIANT SPIDERS. Sand spiders. >:)

  63. lexypoo says:

    I'm slowly trailing you in re-reading the Two Towers — I just finished Helms Deep. Anyway, this is one of my favorite scenes in the book & movie — Shelob is frightening and bloated with EVIL. This scene for the movie…I can remember the scene shot for shot because Howard Shore ruined my life with his amazing instrumentals.

    • hpfish13 says:

      V guvax gung vf bar bs gur zbfg rssrpgvir cvrprf bs zhfvp V unir rire urneq. Gurer vf abguvat zber thnenagrrq gb sernx zr bhg naq znxr zr grafr naq fpnerq guna jura gung zhfvp pbzrf hc ba zl vcbq.

      • lexypoo says:

        I just started reading the comments — how do I decode this? 🙂

        • hpfish13 says:

          You can decode (and encode) it here!

          • lexypoo says:


            Yay now I'm part of the part-ay!

            V xabj! Gur fperrpuvat ivbyvaf? Bu naq gur -ynpx- bs zhfvp jura Furybo vf penjyvat -bire- Sebqb orsber fur fgvatf uvz…gung'f Wnpxfba'f cher ubeebe travhf pbzvat guebhtu. V pna'g jnvg hagvy Znex jngpurf gur zbivrf naq V ernyyl pna'g jnvg gb frr uvf ernpgvba gb ubj Wnpxfba 'vagrecergrq' pregnva guvatf.

    • sporkaganza93 says:

      Huge expectation spoilers! You need to ROT13 everything except the first sentence.

      Oh, I see, you didn't know how to do that when you first made this post. Well, you still need to do it 😛

  64. Icarus says:

    Wait. If Sauron sends prisoners to Shelob to be "played with" and eaten, and Gollum was captured and tortured by Sauron…

    … did Sauron send Gollum to Shelob to be eaten, and then Gollum:

    a) was too stringy to interest her
    b) promised her other, tastier meat

    … and that's how he escaped Mordor?

    • stormwreath says:

      Fnheba gubhtug gung Tbyyhz jbhyq or qenja gb gur Evat, fb ur qryvorengryl "yrg" uvz rfpncr sebz Zbeqbe, naq jnearq uvf Bepf gb nyybj Tbyyhz gb farnx cnfg gurve thneqcbfgf. Gur vqrn jnf gura gb jnvg sbe uvz gb svaq gur Evat, pynvz vg naq erirny uvzfrys – gura fraq va gur Anmtûy.

      Nf sbe jul Furybo qvqa'g rng uvz: V fhfcrpg lbhe pbzzrag nobhg uvz orvat gbb fgevatl vf arne gur znex. Nyfb, Hatbyvnag onetnvarq jvgu Zbetbgu sbe uvz gb yrnq ure gb orggre sbbq, fb znlor Furybo gubhtug Tbyyhz pbhyq qb gur fnzr sbe ure ba n fznyyre fpnyr?

      • Icarus says:

        True, in The Shadow of the Past (the ultimate chapter of all chapters) Gandalf mentions that Gollum truly believed he'd escaped, but Gandalf theorized that he'd been allowed to escape, that no one got out of the dungeons of Barad-dur (and he would now, having attempted the rescue of Thrain from Sauron's dungeons in Dol Guldor).

        Still, based on the LotR itself, that was still just a theory. Even if it is a Gandalf Theory with a capital T.

        Clearly, Gollum had come through Cirith Ungol before. Gandalf mentions Gollum had been captured skulking in the areas outside Mordor, so he hadn't been inside Mordor proper until after he was captured. So Cirith Ungol would be the only route of egress he knew.

        Unless Gollum jnf ubhfrq va gur cevfba va gur cnff nobir Furybo'f ynve. Bu, gung'f gur zbfg yvxryl rkcynangvba.

        But then how would Sauron expect Gollum to escape her? Feed her extra prisoners first and hope for the best?

        Or perhaps Sauron was okay with either result: Gollum as spider food, or Gollum alive. In which case, I vote for the extra cruelty of Sauron feeding Gollum to Shelob, but stuffing her first and making sure there was an open escape route. Sauron would want to punish anyone who'd touched The One Ring.

        • Steve Morrison says:

          Still, based on the LotR itself, that was still just a theory. Even if it is a Gandalf Theory with a capital T.

          Frodo, not Gandalf. It was from “The Black Gate is Closed”:

          ‘It’s a lie!’ hissed Gollum, and an evil light came into his eyes at the naming of Aragorn. ‘He lied on me, yes he did. I did escape, all by my poor self. Indeed I was told to seek for the Precious; and I have searched and searched, of course I have. But not for the Black One. The Precious was ours, it was mine I tell you. I did escape.’
          Frodo felt a strange certainty that in this matter Gollum was for once not so far from the truth as might be suspected; that he had somehow found a way out of Mordor, and at least believed that it was by his own cunning. For one thing, he noted that Gollum used I, and that seemed usually to be a sign, on its rare appearances, that some remnants of old truth and sincerity were for the moment on top. But even if Gollum could be trusted on this point, Frodo did not forget the wiles of the Enemy. The ‘escape’ may have been allowed or arranged, and well known in the Dark Tower. And in any case Gollum was plainly keeping a good deal back.

          But in any case, jr unir pnaba sbe vg va gur irel arkg puncgre, va gur pbairefngvba orgjrra Funteng naq Tbeont:

          ‘Lrf, irel shaal: yvtugf naq fubhgvat naq nyy. Ohg Furybo jnf ba gur tb. Zl ynqf fnj ure naq ure Farnx.’
          ‘Ure Farnx? Jung’f gung?’
          ‘Lbh zhfg unir frra uvz: yvggyr guva oynpx sryybj; yvxr n fcvqre uvzfrys, be creuncf zber yvxr n fgneirq sebt. Ur’f orra urer orsber. Pnzr bhg bs Yhtoúem gur svefg gvzr, lrnef ntb, naq jr unq jbeq sebz Uvtu Hc gb yrg uvz cnff. Ur’f orra hc gur Fgnvef bapr be gjvpr fvapr gura, ohg jr’ir yrsg uvz nybar: frrzf gb unir fbzr haqrefgnaqvat jvgu Ure Ynqlfuvc. V fhccbfr ur’f ab tbbq gb rng: fur jbhyqa’g jbeel nobhg jbeqf sebz Uvtu Hc. Ohg n svar thneq lbh xrrc va gur inyyrl: ur jnf hc urer n qnl orsber nyy guvf enpxrg. Rneyl ynfg avtug jr fnj uvz. Naljnl zl ynqf ercbegrq gung Ure Ynqlfuvc jnf univat fbzr sha, naq gung frrzrq tbbq rabhtu sbe zr, hagvy gur zrffntr pnzr. V gubhtug ure Farnx unq oebhtug ure n gbl, be gung lbh’q creuncf frag ure n cerfrag, n cevfbare bs jne be fbzrguvat. V qba’g vagresrer jura fur’f cynlvat. Abguvat trgf ol Furybo jura fur’f ba gur uhag.’

    • Dreamflower says:

      Ooh, I want someone to write a fanfic based on THIS bunny! Whoa!

  65. JustMalyn says:


  66. Dru says:



  67. Susankh says:

    Aragog may equal Shelob, but Dobby is sure as hell NOT Gollum! So glad you’re enjoying the book!

  68. ldwy says:

    It's so interesting, how much you see Tolkien's influence in popular literature in the genre today. And it's pervasive. When I first read HP, I had not actually read The Lord of the Rings trilogy yet. But I think I had seen the movies? (I'm getting my timelines all jumbled.) Anyway, one way or another, I knew about Shelob, and when Aragog was revealed, all I could think of was Tolkien.

    He takes an admittedly common human fear and makes it iconic.

  69. Laurelluin says:

    I hope y'all will forgive me for saying this; it seems like black heresy in the midst of all this arachnophobia.

    But I — actually — like spiders.

    Of course, I've never met one bigger than a tarantula, but — I actually had a pet harvestman spider when I was eight years old. When I find spiders indoors, I trap them in a cup or something at put them outside in the nearest bush.

    Shelob, though, is not a real spider: she's a spider-shaped nightmare.

    • Dreamflower says:

      I don't DISlike spiders in general, so long as they stay OUTside (I have less tolerance for them in the house. I feel the same about mice and lizards; but snakes and rats freak me out anywhere). It can be fascinating to watch them making webs.

      And I have to say, Charlotte is a much nicer literary spider than Shelob. The jury's out on Aragog. OTOH, he's friends with Hagrid, but OTotherH, he was fine with Ron and Harry getting eaten.

      • Kiryn says:

        Rats actually make awesome pets. Domesticated ones, obviously, you definitely should go out and try to catch a wild one, but yeah. They're really quite sweet. And they're much better pets than mice. Rats are just social animals, and you need to take them out of the cage and spend time with them. Treat them right, and they will not EVER bite you. Mice will, though.

        I have two pet rats at home. I adore them.

        And lol, snakes aren't that bad of pets either. Most people seem to think they're slimy or something, but they're actually quite soft and smooth. VENOMOUS snakes, on the other hand, I will join you with the DO NOT WANT of them.

        • Dreamflower says:

          On rats: the key word there is "domesticated". Nice clean white or spotted ones who live in a nice little habitat are one thing. Nasty big brown things that invade your bird feeders are another thing altogether. *shudder*.

          But snakes are always on my DO NOT WANT list, anywhere, anytime and any kind. I would make a lousy Slytherin and I would not even remotely want to be a Parseltongue.

    • Steve Morrison says:

      That makes you like the Professor himself, then! In Letter #163 he wrote:

      And if that has anything to do with my being stung by a tarantula when a small child, people are welcome to the notion (supposing the improbable, that any one is interested). I can only say that I remember nothing about it, should not know it if I had not been told; and I do not dislike spiders particularly, and have no urge to kill them. I usually rescue those whom I find in the bath!

  70. rabidsamfan says:

    Poor Mark, he's never going to be able to read the comment pages for this chapter! Too many spider pictures.

  71. Leah-san says:

    Awwww… but spiders can be so cute! Have some anthropomorphic Daddy Long Legs spider bros! Those guys always cheer me up. They cured my fear of spiders! <img src=""&gt;
    <a href="” target=”_blank”>

  72. Michael says:

    For some reason I feel like Mark is missing a lot of Gollum's important characterizations throughout this book. Mostly the Smeagol/Gollum thing.

  73. Suzy says:

    Ok, so, moving the subject away from MASSIVE TERRIFYING SPIDERSOMG, after Mark has finished with the films does anyone else think that he should watch the two fan films "Born of Hope" and "The Hunt for Gollum" ? They're both independantly made films based on earlier adventures of Aragorn, with a few familiars faces popping up. They're interesting, well acted and all around badass! And the best part:

    • Dreamflower says:

      Oh, they ARE very well done for fanfilms! BoH, I think, is better than HfG, but all things considered, I think they did an awesome job for amateurs on a shoestring budget.

      (Wouldn't it be cool to win the lotter or publisher's clearing house or something, and be able to fund an amateur fan production on a BIG budget?).

      I don't know how interested in them Mark would be.

  74. Ataahua says:

    One of my favourite lines of Tolkien's sly prose is in this chapter: "'His cat', he calls her, but she owns him not." Tolkien not only understands human nature but also the hierarchy of cats and humans. 😀

    • fantasy_fan says:

      Yes, that line fascinated me for a long time. A lovely turn on the word "owns"; he may think he owns her, that she belongs to him, but she will not own him,. she refuses to recognize him.

      I have a cat very pointedly ignoring me right now, as a matter of fact.

      (Ataahua from TORn? There can't be two…)

  75. Cakemage says:

    There is no end to the hatred that I have for spiders. Whenever I see one I immediately yell "SPAWN OF SHELOB!" and grab the nearest heavy blunt object with which to end its miserable venom-soaked life. This may seem excessive, but there's no such thing as overkill when it comes to spiders. Just ask Ron Weasley. Anyway, let's see how merciful you are when you wake up to find one on your pillow or face, or discover a nest of them in your riding helmet, or have one jump into your hair when you walk outside and you think it's a leaf and so you try to brush it off and the next thing you know your hand has swollen to four times its normal size.

    I apologize for rambling, but the point I'm trying to make here is that I really fucking hate spiders. Shelob in particular needs to die in all the fires everywhere. In fact, when I'm playing Skryim and a spider turns up, I like to pretend it's her and dispatch it with fire spells (after I finish panicking, of course) even when there are more efficient means of arachnicide at my disposal.

  76. luminique says:

    This is totally off topic. Today I was reading your newest e-book when my 12-yr old daughter peeped over my shoulder long enough to notice it was related to Harry Potter. I explained to her that it was not fanfiction, but a review of each chapter, to which she responded, "Oh, like Mark Reads?" I pointed out with delight that I read you daily (although usually without comment), and it turns out that she does too. Mark: bringing generations together 🙂

  77. GamgeeFest says:

    I'm not afraid of spiders, so long as I can squash them with my shoe. Shelob is OMG WTF SCARY!!! I can't imagine a worse way to die than being toyed with by a ginormous spider!

    This chapter, with the long dark tunnel full of foulness and rot – it's starting to get REAL.

    Tolkien took two of the greatest fears of Man, dark and spiders, and combined them into an epic chapter of EPIC SCARINESS. He doesn't want us to have sweet dreams. He wants us to have nightmares, and lots of them. Mission accomplished.

    Frodo's courage – Frodo is full of awesome. But then he fails at the end to see the biggest threat of all, as he's too happy to be free of that tunnel. And Gollum prevents Sam from helping him. Eep!

    *waits impatiently for Monday's review*

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