SF & Fantasy

Tolkien Re-Read Part II: The Fellowship of the Ring (Chapter 2.1)


Last time in the Tolkien Re-read Frodo & Friends walked all the walking, met an Elf from Rivendell named Glorfindel, and went up against all nine of the Black Riders. We also came to the end of Book I. Speaking of, I was a bit foolish in my labeling of these posts since the chapters begin again at 1 in Book II. So, I’ll be labeling them by book and chapter going forward—2.1, 2.2, 2.3, etc.

Also, I’ve noticed folks asking for The Silmarillion re-read in the comments of past posts. Worry not, dear readers. It’s my favorite of Tolkien’s works and it has always been my plan to include it in this re-read project. We’ll get there, I promise..

Previous posts for the Tolkien Re-read (including my re-read of The Hobbit) can be found here.

A quick note: I’m reading from the Houghton Mifflin movie tie-in hardcover from 2001, but the text should match Del Rey’s more recent tie-in edition (pictured right). Each post will cover one or two chapters and include footnotes of useless trivia that you can read or ignore at your discretion—they’re mostly there to contain the worst of my nerd-babble. Also, there might be spoilers ahead. For the most part, the posts will keep in time with the chapters I’m discussing from The Fellowship of the Ring, but I can’t guarantee I won’t geek out about related things from later in the trilogy or elsewhere in Tolkien lore. If you’ve at least seen the movies, it won’t be a problem, but I shall do my best to avoid spoilery content for the sake of the uninitiated

THE LORD OF THE RINGS
The Fellowship of the Ring – Book II

Three Rings for the Elven-kings under the sky,
     Seven for the Dwarf-lords in their halls of stone,
Nine for Mortal Men doomed to die,
     One for the Dark Lord on his dark throne
In the Land of Mordor where the Shadows lie.
     One Ring to rule them all, One Ring to find them,
     One Ring to bring them all and in the darkness bind them
In the land of Mordor where the Shadows lie

Chapter 1: Many Meetings

Frodo, having passed out at the end of the last chapter, comes to in a disoriented state. He finds himself in bed in an unfamiliar room that is lit with sunlight and filled with the sound of a waterfall. When he wonders aloud where he is, he’s surprised to receive an answer, and even more surprised to find that the answerer is Gandalf.

(Oh, hi, Gandalf. About time you showed up.)

The wizard, sitting in a nearby chair, tells Frodo that he is in Rivendell, in the House of Elrond, that he has been asleep for three days, and that his travelling companions are all safe and sound.

Relevant Quote Break!

Frodo: What happened at the Ford? It all seemed so dim, somehow, and it still does.
Gandalf: Yes, it would. You were beginning to fade. The wound was overcoming you at last. A few more hours and you would have been beyond our aid.

Gandalf is impressed (proud?) that Frodo and the other hobbits have managed to make it this far with the Ring. Frodo, admitting that they never would have made it without the help of Strider (damn right), asks Gandalf where he’s been because they needed him and did not know what to do without him.

As expected, Gandalf answers mysteriously—he was “delayed” and it “nearly ruined them.” When Frodo asks for more detail he waves him off with an “all in good time” and a “we shall have a Council once you are well enough.” But Frodo is nothing if not persistent, and insists that Gandalf should at least tell him why he was delayed.

Favorite Quote Break!

Gandalf: At the moment I will only say that I was held captive.
Frodo: You?
Gandalf: Yes, I, Gandalf the Grey. There are many powers in the world, for good or evil. Some are greater than I. Against some I have not yet been measured. But my time is coming. The Morgul-lord and his Black Riders have come forth. War is preparing!

Frodo is surprised to hear that Gandalf knew about the Black Riders before he and the other hobbits encountered them.

Relevant Quote Break!

Gandalf: Yes, I knew of them. Indeed I spoke of them once to you; for the Black Riders are the Ringwraiths, the Nine Servants of the Lord of the Rings. But I did not know that they had arisen again or I should have fled with you at once.

From here the conversation turns to Strider, who basically single-handedly averted a disaster of world-ending proportions by finding the hobbits back in Bree. Frodo says he has become “very fond” of Strider even though he is “strange and grim.”

Relevant Quote Break!

Gandalf: There are few left in Middle-earth like Aragorn son of Arathorn. The race of the Kings from over the Sea is nearly at an end. It may be that this War of the Ring* will be their last adventure.
Frodo: Do you really mean that Strider is one of the people of the old Kings? I thought they had all vanished long ago. I thought he was only a Ranger.
Gandalf: Only a Ranger! My dear Frodo, that is just what the Rangers are: the last remnant in the North of the great people, the Men of the West.** They have helped me before; and I shall need their help in the days to come; for we have reached Rivendell, but the Ring is not yet at rest.

Frodo hopes that he won’t have to go any further with the Ring, but Gandalf pointedly (suspiciously?) changes the subject by asking about his injury, which Frodo is pleased to discover feels greatly improved.

Quick Facts About Frodo’s Injury

◊ Putting on the Ring in the presence of Ringwaiths was actually (surprise) the worst idea ever—it placed him in the wraith-world where the Ringwraiths could both see and seize him
◊ This is why Frodo could see their faces while wearing the Ring
◊ Also why he was stabbed with a Morgul-knife
◊ The knife was meant to pierce his heart, quickly turning him into a wraith in service of the Dark Lord
◊ Though it did not pierce his heart, Frodo had nearly become a wraith by the time he reached the Ford, which was why his vision was going dark

Naturally, Frodo has many questions for Gandalf, questions with rather interesting answers, so…

Q&A with Gandalf

Question: Why could we all see the Ringwraith’s horses, but not the riders?
Answer: Because they are real horses, bred and raised for the Dark Lord who has more than wraiths in his service—orcs, trolls, wargs, werewolves, and Men are among his armies.

Question: Is Rivendell safe?
Answer: Yes, and it will be until all else is conquered. The Elves fear the Dark Lord but will never again listen to him or serve him.*** And Rivendell is home to some of the Dark Lord’s chief foes—the Elven-wise, lords of the Eldar from Valinor, the Blessed Realm beyond the furthest seas.

Question: Was Glorfindel the shining white light Frodo saw at the Ford?
Answer: Yes. Frodo saw him for a moment as he is on the other side: one of the mighty Firstborn.† He is an Elf-lord of a house of princes.

After all these questions, we finally come back to Frodo’s original concern at the opening of chapter:

What Happened at the Ford

◊ Frodo fled
◊ The Black Riders followed, drawn by the presence of the Ring
◊ While the Riders chased Frodo to the river, Strider, Glorfindel, and the hobbits hastily kindled a fire
◊ Glorfindel knew the waters of the Bruinen would flood the moment the Black Riders stepped into its waters, because Elrond has commanded it so
◊ When the flood appeared, Glorfindel and Strider rushed out with flaming brands, trapping the Riders between fire (which they fear) and the rushing water
◊ Three Riders were carried away be the flood
◊ Six were hurled into the water by their horses, which were maddened by the sight of “an Elf-lord revealed in his wrath,” and swept away

But don’t get too excited. As Gandalf is quick to point out to Frodo, the horses have most definitely perished but the Ringwraiths themselves are rather a bit harder to get rid of.

(They’ll be back, and with better mounts to boot.)

There follows some more sleeping on Frodo’s part. When he wakes up again he is alone, and also hungry. While he is dressing, there is a knock at the door, which turns out to be Sam. He’s quite delighted to find Frodo up and about, and babbles excitedly about Rivendell and—my favorite subject—Elves.

Favorite Quote Break!

Sam: Elves here, and Elves there! Some like kings, terrible and splendid; and some as merry as children.

Eventually, Sam leads Frodo from his room to a porch where Merry, Pippin, and Gandalf are spending the afternoon. Everyone shares their pleasure at seeing Frodo recovered and everything is happiness until Merry playfully calls Frodo the “Lord of the Ring.”

Favorite Quote Break!

Gandalf: Hush! Evil things do not come into this valley; but all the same we should not name them. The Lord of the Ring is not Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor, whose power is again stretching out over the world! We are sitting in a fortress. Outside is getting dark.
Pippin: Gandalf has been saying many cheerful things like that.

Later, there is a great feast with Elrond and the folk of Rivendell. The feast is mostly Frodo staring in awe at all the Elves—namely Elrond, the Lord of Rivendell, and Arwen††, Elrond’s daughter—and chatting with the person sitting next to him at the table, the dwarf Glóin.†††

(You remember Glóin, yes? From Bilbo’s travels with Thorin & Co. in The Hobbit?)

Frodo, very much excited to meet one of the dwarves who traveled with Bilbo on his adventures, listens eagerly as Glóin fills him in on everything that has happened in the years since the defeat of Smaug.

Things Relevant to The Hobbit, a Summary of Glóin’s Babblings

◊ The Beornings (these being the children of Beorn, the shapeshifter whose house Bilbo and the dwaves took refuge in for a time) now guard the passage from Dale to Rivendell.
◊ The Bardings (these being the descendents of Bard, the man who brought down Smaug at Laketown) now rule the Men of Dale.
◊ The dwarf Dáin, Thorin’s cousin, is still the King Under the Mountain
◊ Dwalin, Dori, Nori, Bifur, Bofur, Bombur, and, of course, Glóin still live under the Mountain. (Reminder that Thorin, Fili, and Kili died in the Battle of Five Armies).
◊ No one knows what has become of Bro-dwarf—I mean, Balin—Ori, and Óin.

(I know what’s become of them. [minor spoilers for FotR])

After the feast, everyone retires to the Hall of Fire—it sounds ominous, but it’s actually just a room with a huge fire burning in it. Music and merrymaking ensues, and Frodo notices a figure sitting on the floor near the fire (spoilers: it’s Bilbo).

Relevant Quote Break!

Frodo: Bilbo!
Bilbo: Hullo, Frodo my lad!
Frodo: Why weren’t you [at the feast]? And why haven’t I been allowed to see you before?
Bilbo: Because you were asleep. I have seen a good deal of you.

Turns out Bilbo has spent much time at Frodo’s bedside during his recovery. He didn’t attend the feast because he had “something else to do,” which is to say he was making up a new song. Bilbo mentions being stuck on some lines, though, and requiring the help of his friend the Dúnadan. Frodo isn’t certain who he means.

(Oo! Oo! I know who that is!)

But Elrond overhears their conversation and, knowing exactly who Bilbo means, sends for him. In the meantime, Bilbo and Frodo (and Sam, who joins them) chatter away about what Bilbo has been up to since he left Hobbiton.

What Bilbo Has Been Up To

◊ travelling to Dale to visit the dwarves
◊ living in Rivendell
◊ this and that
◊ writing his book (that’s The Hobbit)
◊ making up songs

Then there is some more talking—mostly about Gandalf and the Ring, and does Frodo have It with him and could Bilbo maybe see It for just a moment?

(No Bilbo.)

Frodo reluctantly takes out the Ring, now hanging from a chain around his neck.

(NO FRODO.)

Bilbo reaches for the Ring but Frodo, distressed by Bilbo’s look, immediately pulls it away. For a moment, Bilbo had appeared to Frodo as a “little wrinkled creature with a hungry face and bony groping hands.”

(*cough* Gollum *cough*)

Frodo’s reaction brings Bilbo back to himself and he tells him to put the Ring away.

Favorite Quote Break!

Bilbo: I am sorry: sorry you have come in for this burden: sorry about everything. Don’t adventures ever have an end?

From here, their conversation turns back to safer things—mostly the Shire. They continue on in this way until Bilbo looks up and sees his friend the Dúnadan (spoilers, it’s Strider/Aragorn).

Favorite Quote Break!

Bilbo: Ah, there you are at last, Dúnadan!
Frodo: Strider! You seem to have a lot of names.
Bilbo: Well Strider is one that I haven’t heard before, anyway.

The moral of this exchange is that StridAgornAdan not only knows ALL the things, but also has ALL the names.

Quick Facts About Strider’s Names

◊ Strider is what they call him in Bree and the surrounding areas
◊ Aragorn is his actual name
◊ Dúnadan (from the Elvish dún-adan, meaning Man of The West or Númenorean) is what he is sometimes called in Rivendell

Bilbo asks Strider why he wasn’t at the feast and curiously (suspiciously?) mentions that Arwen was there. Strider knew this (of course) and says that he was meeting with Elladan and Elrohir (Arwen’s twin brothers), who had just returned “out of the Wild” unannounced and with tidings he needed to hear.

(Sounds…dire. Also, can we talk about how Arwen has twin brothers? Woefully underutilized twin brothers?)

Soon, Strider and Bilbo are working away at Bilbo’s song. Sam falls asleep and Frodo listens to the music in the hall, dozing, until he hears Bilbo singing his new song:

Eärendil‡ was a mriner
that tarried in Avernien;
he built a boat of timber felled
in Nimbrethil to journey in;
her sails he wove of silver fair,
of silver were her lanterns made,
her prow was fashioned like a swan,
and light upon her banners laid.

(There is much more to the song than that, but I’ll resist the urge to fill this post with verse. I just…Eärendil is one of my favorite Tolkien characters.)

After the song, Frodo and Bilbo slip out to talk privately. As they’re leaving, Frodo looks back into the hall and sees Aragorn standing beside Arwen, seemingly “clad in elven-mail” with a star “shining on his breast.”

(All this is probably important, yes? And not just because Frodo sees “Aragorn” instead of “Strider.”)

Later, Sam joins them and insists that Frodo should probably be in bed, since he has  just recovered from a stab in the shoulder that was turning him into a wraith. Bilbo agrees, but stays behind to walk alone under the stars.

 
USELESS TRIVIA FOOTNOTES
*The War of the Ring is what Tolkien originally titled The Return of the King, but it was changed by his publisher.
**Men of the West: Surprise! Aragorn is a descendent of Númenor.
***Elves serving the Dark Lord: They were tricked into it (Sauron is rather good at disguising himself as something fair) “it” being the creation of the Rings of Power (3 for the Elves, 6 for the dwarves, 9 for Men).
†Firstborn: The Elves are the first children of the Valar, the creators of Middle-earth, and the first beings to walk in the world.
††Arwen (aka Undómiel aka Evenstar) is the daughter of Elrond and Celebrían, who was the daughter of Celeborn and Galadriel. Arwen is said to be the “likeness of Lúthien come again on earth,” which is to say she’s rather pretty. She was raised with her mother’s family in Lórien and has only recently returned to Elrond at Rivendell. Her twin brothers, Elladan and Elrohir, travel often with Rangers like Strider, mostly hunting orcs. Her mother was captured and tortured by orcs and, though she survived, she left Middle-earth and returned to Valinor. Arwen is partly human, on her father’s side.
†††Glóin was among the thirteen dwaves that Bilbo travelled with in The Hobbit. He is the father of Gimli.
‡Eärendil, father of Elrond, was a half-elven raised in the hidden city of Gondolin. He’s one of the most important figures in Elven lore because a) he played a key role in the fall of Morgoth and b) he brought the last of the Silmarils to Valinor, where the Valar set it in the sky as a star. Eärendil is said to sail that star across the heavens in his ship.

****

That’s it for Book II, chapter 1! Frodo & Friends have made it to Rivendell, Frodo has been healed, Gandalf is back, there was an Elven feast, Frodo met the dwarf Glóin, Bilbo appeared, and there’s probably something going on between Strider/Aragorn and Elrond’s daughter, Arwen.

Reminder that The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug hits theaters this weekend! Anyone going to see it opening night? I’ll be on a plane home for the holiday, but I plan on dragging my family to it as soon as humanly possible.

See you in 2014!


Logan Balestrino is the Publishing Assistant for Del Rey/Spectra and Digital Content at the Random House Publishing Group. She is prone to Doctor Who rants, anime marathons, and extensive ramblings on Elven lineage and the creation of language in Middle-earth. When Logan isn’t working or hanging upside down at her aerials class, she can usually be found saving Hyrule or talking herself out of buying another pair of shoes.


One Response to “Tolkien Re-Read Part II: The Fellowship of the Ring (Chapter 2.1)”

  1. Kris says:

    *bouncesquees at Silmarillion promise*

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