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Old 12-08-2008, 06:53 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Week Twelve Chapter Twelve

Flight to the Ford


Here is one place where the movies really compressed the saga... I personally feel like the longer version in the saga is more gripping and feels more desperate. There is more time to process the fact that they may not make it. That the riders are just waiting, like vultures, waiting for Frodo to fall.

And there are moments of humor too... like the Trolls. And unexpected whimsy... like Sam's song. Which almost make the darkness that is slowly taking Frodo away even worse.

And I really appreciate that it is Frodo who, in the end, continues to defy the Riders. He orders them back to Mordor not once but twice, throws the names of the gods at them, and holds up his sword. Sort of like in the Barrow... he feels like he should just give in, but he finds an inner strength to hold onto his identity and sense of purpose.

Definately the makings of a hero.

(unless you're going with the FireFly definition of hero which is "someone who gets other people killed", though that may not be too far off the mark here either.)

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Old 12-09-2008, 12:01 AM
 
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gods? what gods?

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Old 12-09-2008, 11:33 AM
 
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He calls on the name of Elbereth (Varda), but I can't remember any other names he mentions. Varda is technically a very high level angel (as are others of her kind), but Tolkien writes that "some men called them gods" because they are the beings in control of various elements of the universe. Elbereth/Varda is the one who made the stars, sun and moon, and is thus one of the most beloved of all the Valar by the Elves.

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Old 12-09-2008, 12:17 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Yup... if you're interested in the cosmology of Middle Earth, Tolkien goes into detail in the Silmarillion. It's as close as you can get to the "religion" of Middle Earth... but it's not just "religion", it's the actual reality of the world as well if that makes sense? The Silmarillion covers the creation and early days, but many of the elves who are in the saga were also there for the later events of the Silmarillion so there isn't the same "belief without sight" you have in the religions of the modern world.

The short version (akin to putting the bible into 50 words or less) is:

The "All Father" Eru Ilúvatar loves music and harmony so he creates the Ainur... beings of thought and beauty who then sing with him. Melkor (the most senior of the Ainur) doesn't like the way the music is going and introduces his own themes... some of the Ainur sing along with him, others remain in harmony with the theme set out by Ilúvatar. Three times Melkor tries to take control of the music and three times Ilúvatar encorporates the new theme and brings the overall melody back to his (Ilúvatar's) theme.

Eventually, Ilúvatar brings the music to an end and shows the Ainur a vision of their music "taking form"... they see the reality of Middle Earth playing out in accord to the music they just sang (discords and all). Ilúvatar then gives the Ainur the option of manifesting in a physical way and actually entering the world created by their song. The world is still a void of sorts (the vision shows them what may be, if beings work in harmony with the music of the creation... but it will require physical work to manifest the music in the "real world")

Some of the Ainur agree to enter the world, binding their abilities to the laws of the phsyical world. The more senior/powerful/close to Eru Ainur are called the Valar once they enter the world. The secondary/less powerful/supporting Ainur are called Maiar once they manifest in the world. Working together the Valar and Maiar attempt to guide the phsyical world into harmony with the original music. Of course, Melkor also decided to enter Arda (the world) and he works to seduce the other Valar and Maiar to his side with the goal of taking control of Arda for himself (just like he tried to take control of the music before the manifestation of the world).

So a lot of the Silmarillion deals with the destruction/corruption caused by Melkor and the healing brought about by the efforts of the other Valar and Maiar. I often think of the Valar as "creating" and the Maiar as "tending", but it's more jumbled than that.

Oh, Gandalf and the other wizards are Maiar (and the status of Tom Bombadill is a popular discussion topic). The Balrogs are Maiar that followed Melkor. It adds a certain sadness to the events of Moria when you think that Gandalf and the Balrog most likely knew each other, and worked together, and were at one time the "same" in dignity. Sort of like the Wraiths... Tolkien really plays on the idea of evil being the result of dignity/honor/decency betrayed. Very little "starts out bad" (even Melkor isn't "bad" as such to begin with), it generally starts good and is then open to corruption. It's an interesting blend of his personal Catholic beliefs and the Norse beliefs he studied in such depth.

I lurve the Silmarillion. (geek hat firmly in place, my brother and I were devoted followers of Ilúvatar for several years as kids... I should see if I can mix some of that mythos back into my personal practice, I remember it being very affirming)

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Old 12-10-2008, 12:21 AM
 
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holy TMI, clay!

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Old 12-10-2008, 01:34 AM
 
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Ok, Wombatclay, so if you lurve the Silmarillion, does that mean that we can tack on a Silmarilion book club on the end of this one? Cause I have never been able to get beyond about page 20 on my own
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Old 12-10-2008, 11:28 AM
 
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Yeah! Yes, yes, PLEASE??? I'm currently working my way through the Silmarillion again for the first time in years, but it would be even better to have a discussion group to go through it together.

"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult." â E.B. White
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Old 12-10-2008, 01:56 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Sure! Though beware... with the saga I can keep my geeky self more or less in check. But the Silmarillion. Well. I mean, it really is like a religious or scholarly philosophical text... it gets deep quickly and it's more or less impossible for me to stay on the "fun story" level. I've got to start delving! (to slightly smoosh Ros & Guil there)

And as it relates to the saga... if you can wade through it, the Silmarillion adds a lot of depth to the saga. It explains why people do what they do, or why they respond as they do.

Like, the elves were supposed to be the first of the created peoples. But one of the Valar made dwarves on his own before the elves were awake. The Valar argued and the dwarves were made to sleep while the Elves walked the earth as the First Born. But there was a lot of ill will over this, and it's the basis for the animosity between Elves and Dwarves.

And it explains some of Saurman's actions... Sauruman is a Maiar sent to help the people of Middle Earth fight back against Sauron. But at one time Sauron was himself a Maiar who served Melkor/Morgoth. By serving Melkor, Sauron was eventually able to take his place (when Melkor was cast out of reality). So it's not really so hard to understand why Sauruman may feel like if he plays along with Sauron, he'll eventually be able to take over as well. Which isn't something that is clearly explained in the saga, and totally skipped in the movie. I mean, in the movie Sauruman doesn't really seem to have much in the way of motivation.

The down side of the Silmarillion is that characters you might like in the saga are revealed to have their own dirty laundry. Like Galadriel. And characters who seem strong/stoic are revealed to have amazing depths of personal loss and pain. Like Elrond.

But sure... I'd be happy to keep the flow moving into Silmarillion! It's a good antidote to "end of saga blues".

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Old 12-10-2008, 06:40 PM
 
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lol, probably we should have done that First! i keep thinking how glad i am i made myself read it before we started fellowship! maybe it's time i dust off that thesis from my prof's student about lotr etc.... hmmmm..... talk about nerdy, lol....
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Old 12-11-2008, 01:39 AM
 
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lol, probably we should have done that First!
:
I think I'll be better at the Silmarillion with LOTR fresh in my mind. Then I can reread LOTR... maybe dd will be interested in reading it with me then.

Glad to have it to look forward to!

re: Flight to the Ford....

I always skim over this chapter because I hate to think of Frodo in such pain and the endless hours of rough travel to get him to a place of rest.

Love that Sam gets to recite his own verse. It is heartening here (and in the next chapter) that there is room in this world of ancient sagas for some fresh voices.

The encounter with the stone trolls is really lovely. An acknowledgment that we are on the same ground traveled in the Hobbit, and also of how different this journey is from Bilbo's.

In connection with the missed encounters and chance meetings, was thinking about the role of fate in the cosmology of LOTR. There is a weight of predestination about the plot. Encounters are fated to happen or not. Frodo was fated to inherit the ring just as Bilbo was fated to put his hand on it in the dark.

Another reminder of how important intention is in Frodo's comment that Bilbo gave his share of the troll gold away because it was stolen and he didn't feel entitled to it.

This is the second chapter in a row that ends with Frodo unconscious. I am trying to restrain my urge to take notes for a drinking game. Far better cynics than I have tackled LOTR parody.

My 2 yr old is sitting beside me flipping page by page through my copy of Fellowship as I'm typing ETA: his verdict? "Dat's a fun 'tory!" He is done now and so am I.
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Old 12-16-2008, 10:23 AM
 
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I think I just spotted the roof tops of Rivendell.............

"I get up every morning determined to both change the world and have one hell of a good time. Sometimes this makes planning my day difficult." â E.B. White
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Old 12-16-2008, 12:43 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Last week early, this week late

Week Thirteen Chapter Thirteen

Many Meetings


A generally joyful chapter with a lot going on. A bit more backstory, a few blanks filled in, and a chance to breath before the council.

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Old 12-16-2008, 04:36 PM
 
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It's interesting to me to see the difference in the way Tolkien portrayed the elves in the Hobbit vs. LoTR. I know it's because the trilogy was ultimately written for an older audience but I try to reconcile the differences in my head. For instance, is there still a glade somewhere in Rivendell where the elves sit in the trees singing songs like "Tra-la-la-lally, come back to the valley"? Or are times too serious for such light-hearted songs? In the Hobbit we get to see King Thranduil's people actually get drunk and cutting up, which is far from how we see them here. It's almost like the Hobbit gave us a fly-on-the-wall glimpse into elven life and LoTR shows us what it looked like through the eyes of outsiders. Maybe? Don't know - just playing with a few thoughts really.

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Old 12-16-2008, 05:51 PM - Thread Starter
 
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It's something that always twinges in my mind too... the difference between Hobbit and LoTR.

There's more info then you might ever need in a dozen lifetimes about the elves here.

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Old 12-16-2008, 06:02 PM
 
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i think for me, it's the major difference between bilbo's journey and frodo's... bilbo's is a bit more... light-hearted, and frodo's is so much more weighty. almost like... bilbo's is "legend" and frodo's is... "now"... kwim? if you've read silmarillion, i think that difference comes into play more... he talks a lot about "but that was a long time ago," etc.... ??
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Old 12-16-2008, 06:07 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Forgot to add... the bit where Bilbo recounts his conversation with Strider regarding "if I had the cheek to make verses about Earendil in the house of Elrond, it was my affair"?

Earendil is Elrond's father. And Earendil's mixed heritage is why the members of that line are able to choose between casting their lot with mortal man or immortal elf (Earendil is half elven, but he managed to find a way into the UnDying Lands that are reserved for the elves in order to advocate for the people of middle earth against Morgoth). Also, Earendil was sort of a "flying dutchman" for a while, guiding a star through the skies. The light of that star is what was captured in the vial given to Frodo, and which plays a role later in the Saga.

More wheels within wheels... considering how Earendil fought against Morgoth it's neat to see the light of his star stabbing back at Sauron too.

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Old 12-18-2008, 12:37 AM
 
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I just had a couple things to add from the chapter that I found interesting, being a LOTR newbie.

I really found it interesting when Frodo said "But so far my only thought has been to get here; and I hope I shan't have to go any further. It is very pleasant just to rest. I have had a month of exile and adventure, and I find that has been as much as I want." We know that is not the case and something must really happen internally to make him change his mind and be able to continue this task.

I also had a background question. There is a part in the chapter where there is reference to Arwen's mother's torment in the dens of the orcs...what is the back story there?? I have only read the Hobbit before this and that was in 5th grade. I am really looking forward to reading more of Tolkien's work after I finish reading LOTR.

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Old 12-18-2008, 01:24 PM
 
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Arwen's mother (who is also Galadriel's daughter, making Arwen Galadriel's granddaughter) was journeying home from a visit to her mother when she was attacked and captured in the mountains by orcs. They tortured her until her two sons were able to locate and rescue her. Elrond was able to heal her physically, but the internal damage was too great and she decided to sail away to the West ahead of all her family.

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Old 12-18-2008, 08:15 PM
 
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Thanks for the background, dancindoula and Wombatclay. And congratulations Wombatclay!: Thanks for keeping this thread going during what must be a distracting time!

There is a guy who ushers at my church who looks EXACTLY like the actor who plays Elrond in the movie. Except that he is bald.

Even my dh noticed the resemblance.

I can't help feeling that I could follow him home from church one day and end up in sunny Rivendell, with elf banquets and poetry, and Bilbo drowsing in the corner.

It would have been lovely if this were the kind of story where Frodo and his friends *could* have gone for a ramble in the hills of Elfland and had some ordinary magical adventures for a chapter or two. I think touches like Frodo's wistful wish in this chapter really remind us what kind of adventure story this is *not*.
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Old 12-21-2008, 08:03 PM
 
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Arwen's mother (who is also Galadriel's daughter, making Arwen Galadriel's granddaughter) was journeying home from a visit to her mother when she was attacked and captured in the mountains by orcs. They tortured her until her two sons were able to locate and rescue her. Elrond was able to heal her physically, but the internal damage was too great and she decided to sail away to the West ahead of all her family.

Thanks for the background! It is always neat to hear some of the backstories on the characters. I hope I can get to the other books sometime in my lifetime!

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Old 12-21-2008, 08:18 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Hugo Weaving... what a crazy collection of films hat guy has been in. Sort of a "role for all seasons" if you consider Elrond in LOTR, Smith in the Matrix, Mitzi in Priscilla Queen of the Desert, V in V for Vendetta, heck... he's even in Happy Feet.

The actor who gets me every time though (or got me, since he has now passed) is Jerry Orbach. I always "see" him as Lenny from Law and Order (or as one of his many legal/law officer/enforcer/private eye type roles), but he was an amazing singer and voiced Lumiere in the Dinsey animated Beauty and the Beast and won awards for musical theatre.

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Old 12-24-2008, 04:03 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Book TWO Chapter TWO

The Council of Elrond


I'm going by Tolkien's own divisions... so that means we're in book two (sorry I forgot that last week!).

The Council of Elrond is a really dense chapter. So much is explained and so much information provided that it is almost too much... and only with time do you realize just how much got left out. Sort of like Frodo's comment that the story still feels incomplete.

I've always wanted to know more about Radagast, but the whole council (and the story of the history of the ring) is so full of interesting interactions... the way Boromir and Aragorn intersect, the need for Bilbo to come clean, the offering of secrets and hidden knowledge in an open forum where people can react. And you can see some of the historic and modern tensions within the Elvish community as well in the interplay of Elrond, Legolas (and by extension Thranduil), Galdor.

It's a neat chapter.

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Old 12-29-2008, 11:02 AM
 
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Just wanted to pop in and say we haven't forgotten you, Wombatclay. It's a shame the Council chapter fell on the holiday week because everything is so busy! But it's one of my favorite chapters. And I agree with you about wishing we had more history for Radagast and the other Istari; they're so fascinating and we really know almost nothing about them. Also, it has always struck me as interesting how Bilbo's first conversation after finding the ring involved him lying, which was so out of character (how quickly the ring began to exert itself).

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Old 12-29-2008, 06:30 PM - Thread Starter
 
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No worries! I headed out for a long trip right after posting that chapter, and only got back late last night... I'm barely awake right now but thought I'd better check in!

People taking possession of the Ring... have you listened to the writer commentary track on the first Pirates of the Caribbean movie? They talk about how the young Elizabeth is the only person on the ship to see the Black Pearl in the opening sequence because she has just stolen a cursed golden medallion and then lied about what has happened... both things that are on the "naughty" spectrum that leads to pirates and curses and other not so nice things. But both things were done to protect someone else, so they weren't as "bad" as they could have been and she generally avoided any negative feedback from those acts.

That's what I thought of when Bilbo's story was brought up... that although his basic goodness saved him from further falling under the power of the ring (he spares Gollum) he still gives in to the "cursed gold" enough to immediately begin lying and protecting himself from accusations that would probably never have come.

And it does amuse me a bit that after first Gollum and then Bilbo, Frodo actually does get the Ring as a birthday present, though I'm not sure he refers to it as that. Does anyone recall? I know he gets a touch "precious" towards the end, but does he ever go the "birthday present" route?

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Old 12-29-2008, 06:42 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Book TWO Chapter THREE

The Ring Goes South


Quote:
When winter first begins to bite
and stones crack in the frosty night...
Oddly enough, our one chapter a week pace has caught up with the action... the newly formed Fellowship prepares to leave the Last Homely House in the last week of December. And looking out my window right now I think I'd be using much stronger language than Sam's "tis evil in the wild to fare".

This chapter builds on the last very directly... things learned in the Council impact the decision of who and what and where the Ring journey involves. And this chapter has many different moments. There is still the warmth and peace of Rivendell. There is simply travel (cold, but not terribly dangerous). There are unusual sights and mentions of histories we don't know (the birds, Hollin, the dwarvish monuments mentioned in passing). There is still a strong sense of the innocence of the Hobbits (Sam's wondering about "aren't we there yet" and even Frodo's eventual "I'm sure I could explain why we turned back" moment), and a less innocent but still hopeful attitude on the part of the others (that they'll make the pass, that the Riders are scattered, that the weather will hold).

And then there is the gradual realization that luck is not with them. The spirit of the mountain is against them, the animals are (probably) against them, the weather is against them, the best two or three options are no longer options and even worse, there may be no turning back to a place where other options still exist.

The chapter starts with a certain hope of peace and ends with a certain loss of innocence.

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Old 12-29-2008, 10:05 PM
 
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And it does amuse me a bit that after first Gollum and then Bilbo, Frodo actually does get the Ring as a birthday present, though I'm not sure he refers to it as that. Does anyone recall? I know he gets a touch "precious" towards the end, but does he ever go the "birthday present" route?
Hehehe, he does, doesn't he? But I don't recall him ever getting all birthday present obsessed.

***And quick rabbit trail: Why didn't Elizabeth do the whole skeleton/moonlight thing too? She HAD stolen a piece of cursed gold after all. Curiouser and curiouser.***

I'll be back later with more relevant comments.

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Old 12-31-2008, 01:33 PM - Thread Starter
 
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The writers do give the mechanics of the curse... you have to actually take a coin from the chest in order for the curse to be enabled. So monkey goes all undead because he grabbed a coin from the chest, but Elizabeth (and Will before her) don't because they didn't take the coin directly from the chest. I'm guessing they had kind of overlooked that whole aspect of the story and cobbled their mechanics together after the fact though.

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Old 01-04-2009, 04:05 AM
 
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Catching up on the past 2 chapters...

I really like that the horses and ponies in LOTR are so loved and cared for. Love Gandalf's affection for Shadowfax and Sam's ambivalence about taking Bill on the quest with them. Raymond Feist is one of my favorite post-Tolkein writers of high fantasy, but I always wince whenever his characters ride horses to death or 'ruin' them. He is trying to use that kind of detail to construct a grittier and more dangerous world, but give me LOTR equines any day, and the characters that love them.

Gandalf's description of his frustrated and frightened journey in apology/explanation to the ring-bearer really struck me on this reading. I don't think Frodo would have presumed to expect such detail. Maybe Gandalf just wanted to share his stress? Who does a wizard get to vent to, really, especially since Saruman, of whom he had such high expectations, turned against him? Oh, and love the researcher's triumph of tracking down the lost mss, of Ilsidur's story despite the librarian's scowls -- and knowing the obscure language to boot. Gandalf the academic!

Yes, Radagast is a character one would like to see more backstory on!

Sam eavesdropping and then getting drafted into dangerous journeys is becoming a defining character trait for him.

The holly grove in Hollin sounds beautiful. I wish holly grew where I live. I miss it.

The mountain snowstorm gives me the shivers in more ways than one. Too many stories in the real-world news lately of recreational travelers dying in avalanches. : And the hobbits' child-sized bodies and relative physical fragility is highlighted in how useless they are in this dangerous environment. The dwarf knows and loves mountains inside and out, the elf can run lightly over the drifts, the wizard can call fire (though it makes him really grumpy to do so) and the men can push paths through drifts twice as tall as themselves. And the hobbits, meanwhile, are going hypothermic and have to be carried pig-a-back out of the snow.

The hostile mountain and the crows and the wargs : Just one chapter and I'm ready for a warm welcoming waystation already. How long till we get to Lothlorien, again?
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Old 01-04-2009, 04:31 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Well... it may not be welcoming, but Moria is fairly warm.

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Old 01-06-2009, 12:10 PM - Thread Starter
 
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Book TWO Chapter FOUR

A Journey in the Dark


See? Plenty of fire to warm chilly toes! From battles with wolves to caverns of fire...

This chapter starts on a grim note and just falls further and further away from hope. There are moments of beauty, and gallows humor, and the hope of hope though and I think that pulls the reader through the darkest bits.

And I shiver every time I read the parallels between Balin's party and the Fellowship, "They are Coming"

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