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PostPosted: Fri Sep 24, 2010 4:21 pm 
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There's a lot that happens in this chapter. I'm only going to begin with a very bare outline, which I hope we can all fill in with details and impressions.

Following the Company's defeat on Caradhras, Gandalf reveals an alternative way on: through the fabled Mines of Moria. Some interesting character details are revealed here. We see Boromir's stubbornness emphasized again. Aragorn shows a glimpse of his ability as a seer. We see the roots of Gimli and Legolas' enmity - and their future friendship. And we see glimpse of Gandalf's true self.

Before reaching the gates of Moria, they have a little todo with some nice little puppies, which Gandalf tames. ;)

Reaching the doors (which we get a glimpse of with Tolkien's lovely drawing), a number of important things happen. We have Gandalf's near-futile attempt to open them, with Frodo providing the answer to the riddle. We have Sam having to part with a dear friend, in order to help a dearer one. And we have the attack from a mysterious being, the nature and motivations of which should provide some interesting discussion.

Journeying through the dark, we see many hints of things, Pippin's foolish, Tookishness, Sam's desire for rope among them. And we hear of the cats of Queen Beruthiel! And we begin to hear the Drums in the Deep.

Along the way, we get a better sense of both Gimli and the Dwarven culture that he comes from, particularly when he chants the wonderful song about Durin (one of my favorites). And we learn that Frodo is walking around with the price of the Shire on his back.

Finally, we learn the fate of Balin, son of Fundin. At his tomb, Tolkien halted for a long while. It was a year before he "discovered" what happened next.

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Last edited by Voronwë the Faithful on Thu Jan 23, 2014 11:08 pm, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:36 am 
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And I can see why he halted. His own uncertainty must have been as great as Gandalf's, or Frodo's. A writer has to know what his characters want before the path seems clear. Not that the characters are in control; but the way forward may seem forced and false if it doesn't grow naturally from what the characters need and seek.

I happen to think that this is part of what makes LotR great. The story doesn't serve Tolkien; he serves it. Or so I feel, instinctively, as a (much lesser) writer reading the tale.

That may be why this chapter is always where I feel the story take hold and pull me forward toward . . . everything else that happens. Decisions are freeing. They limit all future choice, but they also show the path that must be followed. Maybe it was always the only path; but now we know.

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― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:48 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
We have Gandalf's near-futile attempt to open them, with Frodo providing the answer to the riddle.


We do? ;)


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 1:50 pm 
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Just seeing if anyone was paying attention. 8)

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:03 pm 
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:rage:

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:11 pm 
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of Vinyamar
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Needless to say, this chapter has one of my biggest bugbears. Phantom Wargs that can target the Fellowship with pinpoint accuracy and whose bodies disappear in the night. Gotta feel Sauron could have used some of those at the Pelennor. Or Rohan. Or anywhere actually.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:13 pm 
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Maybe he only had one rune of warg-summoning in his inventory.

Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
Just seeing if anyone was paying attention. 8)


Oh great; now I've got to go back and see if I missed anything else.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:17 pm 
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Me, too. :(

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 2:17 pm 
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Don't worry, Dave, there aren't any other intentional film-related errors in their (I can't speak for unintentional errors).

Al, I fully agree with you and the disappearing wargs.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 4:57 pm 
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Following on from The Hobbit the Wargs were still kind of confined to around the Misty Mountains as far as territory goes, right? So maybe that's why they pop up once, here, in LOTR and then disappear. ( I don't know if they're elaborated on in any other works so I may be wrong here, but if you read The Hobbit and then read LOTR, and that's all you've read so far, I suppose it may seem to be a less surprising thing. )


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:04 pm 
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Griffy, I definitely agree that the disappearing wargs are a holdover from The Hobbit. It's as if it is last attempt to keep the fairy-tale-ish tone that Tolkien started with in writing a sequel to The Hobbit. But in the context of the full story, it just doesn't work. At least for me.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:09 pm 
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Nor for me. I suppose Tolkien was trying to maintain the tone of the Hobbit story because this was supposed to be a sequel; but it was already becoming much more at this point.

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“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach.”
― J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:38 pm 
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Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
Dave_LF wrote:
Voronwë_the_Faithful wrote:
We have Gandalf's near-futile attempt to open them, with Frodo providing the answer to the riddle.


We do? ;)


Just seeing if anyone was paying attention. 8)


It's interesting though how book-world and movie-world start to get mentally jumbled together as time goes by--I remember now that I was annoyed by this change the first time I saw it, but nine years later, I had to stop and think for a bit before I could be sure of what "really" happened. It reminded me for a minute of Stephen King's The Drawing of the Tree, when two of the characters start to lose their minds because they do things to change the past and wind up with memories from conflicting realities.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 5:55 pm 
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Prim and V - I agree with you, of course. The Wargs doesn't fit well.

I wonder if this part would have been edited to fit the tone of the story if Tolkien was writing on a Mac ;) ( or any computer, really! ) When he wrote LOTR, editing was more of a manual process. Maybe the additional labor requiring for this kind of edit made it easier to leave pieces that were "good enough". Of course, we wouldn't know ( unless he addressed it in a letter, maybe. )

Thinking about what the story would have been like if the Wargs were left out completely, it occurs to me that the Wargs do serve to highlight the danger of the journey and the peril of being discovered while they were trying to move in secrecy. That could also have been achieved by making them "real", or by having some other kind of attack, maybe. Still, the lands were said to be wild and empty, so it really needed to be an animal attack - and ordinary animals wouldn't attack a whole party of humans, one would think.

Anyway.


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:03 pm 
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Griffon64 wrote:
I wonder if this part would have been edited to fit the tone of the story if Tolkien was writing on a Mac ;) ( or any computer, really! ) When he wrote LOTR, editing was more of a manual process. Maybe the additional labor requiring for this kind of edit made it easier to leave pieces that were "good enough". Of course, we wouldn't know ( unless he addressed it in a letter, maybe. )


Somehow, I get the impression that Tolkien would never have elected to leave something that was merely good enough in place simply because it would require labor to change it.

I would have preferred it if the carcasses hadn't disappeared and if it had been hinted that they were sent by Saruman (or by orcs in his service).


Last edited by Dave_LF on Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:11 pm, edited 2 times in total.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:05 pm 
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Yeah, possibly. So why did he leave it in place?


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:12 pm 
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I'm not sure. Maybe it didn't bother him. Surely our experts here know something about the revisions this chapter went through (hint, hint). ;)


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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:19 pm 
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Because wargs are kewl. 8)

There is something so visceral about being besieged by predators, much more so than being chased by creatures of fire and shadow. And fighting them is the first real test of the Fellowship. It highlights the danger of the journey. It also puts their later trials into perspective - Gandalf is epic against Wargs (like a monument of some ancient king, stooped like a cloud, voice rolled like thunder), so when the enemies he encounters later take a much greater toll on him, we can appreciate it.

I am actually quite fond of the Wargs, with two exceptions. One is the reference to Sauron. I would much have preferred freelance wolves. The other is the disappearance of the bodies, which just pushed the whole thing over the top.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 6:56 pm 
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I like the wargs, too, and I don't even mind the mention of Sauron. But the disappearance is unnecessary and unsatisfactory.

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PostPosted: Mon Sep 27, 2010 9:16 pm 
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Are we sure those wargs weren't a contrivance of Saruman, or are we convinced that it was Sauron's "long arm" reaching across the distance to throw snow et al at them? Saruman did manage to alter the Uruks, and he was probably well aware that the company were on their way south so it is at least feasible that the wargs were of Saruman's doing.

Not that I buy any of that though.

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