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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 2:14 pm 
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Okay, time to move forward. I'm not going to do a long summary of the chapter like I did for the last chapter. Rather, I'm going to invite others to comment on the interesting events of this chapter without preconceptions from me (at least initially). I'm going to particularly encourage some of those who have been reading along but have reluctant to comment to jump in. You don't have to talk about the whole chapter, just mention something that stands out for you.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:19 pm 
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Lali Beag Bídeach
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I'll give it a go, since I copped out last time. ;)

Here we are introduced to Strider, that mysterious scruffy guy who seems ominous at times and trustworthy at other times. Do we buy his story, or is he a lying agent of the Enemy? I often wonder if Frodo would have ultimately trusted him if it hadn't been for the letter from Gandalf.

There are some great lines in this chapter--look fairer, feel fouler; all that glitters is not gold; all who wander are not lost; etc.

I enjoy Gandalf's witty and somewhat sarcastic postscripts to his letter. I enjoy Strider's sarcasm as well. "'Then who would you take up with?' asked Strider. 'A fat innkeeper who only remembers his own name because people shout it at him all day?...'" :) Do you wonder if Butterbur understood the insult?

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 7:45 pm 
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Yeah, Lali!

I think that Frodo, really wanted to trust Strider, but was afraid to. I think he was really thrown for a loop when it turned out that the "reward" that Strider was asking for was not money, it was that they take him with them. Why would he want that? It didn't fit with anything that Frodo knew at that point. But I think it says a lot about Aragorn's personality that he didn't just come out and say that he was a friend of Gandalf's and that he had a very close personal interest in the success of Frodo's quest (which at that point was simply to keep the Ring safe and out of the hands of the Black Riders).

More later!

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:26 pm 
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There were some specific things which struck me when re-reading Strider.

First, we realize the difference between the hobbits and Strider... when right in the beginning, Strider moves into the parlour with them and sits besides the door. The hobbits don't even notice him till they have a fire lighted! It really makes one wonder how they managed to reach Bree by giving the Black Riders the slip.

We also get our first look at Narsil. And the connection (which actually seems vague), between "Renewed shall be the blade that was broken" and Strider's broken sword is made. And the hint of Strider being a King is silently dropped into the tale, with none of the hobbits picking up on it. Practically speaking, it does seem weird that a Ranger would carry around a non-functional sword. Did he have two? The text, till now, mentions only the "hilt of a sword that had hung concealed by his side".

In this chapter, we are once again, reminded of how great a story-teller Tolkien was. The last words in the chapter "I hope so" by Strider, convey all the despair of the happenings that have surrounded the hobbits. Such a simple, yet deep and thoughtful ending.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:39 pm 
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In my quest to be a better writer, now whenever I read, I notice writing styles and specific words more than ever. Some things which jumped out at me:

The use of the word "faggot" - which, of course, means a bundle of twigs, sticks or branches bound together. How nuances change with time!

The use of "pray" - when Frodo says to Strider: "And what will that be, pray?" Adding on the "pray" conveys the speaker's feeling of pique.

And as soon as Butterbur gets confirmation that Frodo is Frodo Baggins, he calls him "master".

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Last edited by Inanna on Thu Feb 19, 2009 12:26 am, edited 1 time in total.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 8:53 pm 
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Mahima wrote:
First, we realize the difference between the hobbits and Strider... when right in the beginning, Strider moves into the parlour with them and sits besides the door. The hobbits don't even notice him till they have a fire lighted! It really makes one wonder how they managed to reach Bree by giving the Black Riders the slip.

Well, Strider is good. Really good. Sneaking around on the border of the Mordor good. Better than the Black Riders - he has been hunted by them and other agents of the Enemy and they have not caught him. So I find it reasonable the Hobbits could sneak away from Black Riders but not Strider, especially since they sort of knew their peril in the case of the former. But only sort of. They didn't know what the wraiths were. They just knew how they felt about them.

I love the way Strider/Aragorn is introduced. This whole chapter is a favorite of mine and I shall post more thoughts later.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 9:39 pm 
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Quote:
"The hobbits looked at him, and saw with surprise that his face was drawn as if with pain, and his hands clenched the arms of his chair. The room was very quiet and still, and the light seemed to have grown dim. For a while he sat with unseeing eyes as if walking in distant memory or listening to sounds in the Night far away."


I particularly like this passage. Tolkien often illustrates people reliving experiences like this throughout the trilogy - think Cerin Amroth. It really gets over the seriousness of the Hobbits' situation and the sort of dangers they are facing. Strider has seemed so confident and experienced to begin with, and then suddenly we get a glimpse of a fear that he has faced and conquered with some effort in the past.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:05 pm 
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So what distant memory is it that Strider is recalling? We don't know, do we? And that is as it should be.

One thing that I didn't pick up for a long time is the true significance of the scene where Aragorn tells Sam that if he wanted to he could take the Ring. This really is his moment of temptation, like the one that Gandalf had when Frodo offered him the Ring, and Galadriel later has when Frodo offers it to her. For a long time I didn't realize that this was a struggle for him, and that there was a great temptation for him to take the Ring and use it to fulfill his destiny. Tolkien doesn't emphasize that struggle, but it is there nonetheless.

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PostPosted: Wed Feb 18, 2009 10:23 pm 
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That was one of my notes, Elentári, which I forgot to write! :) Great minds and all that.
;)

One of the things which caught my attention was the implication/impression that Strider is remembering a previous encounter with the Nazgûl. So I tried to figure out when that would have happened. I could not find a definite instance, but several possibilities.

Aragorn was born on 1st March III 2931. Just before Sauron started searching the Anduin near the Gladden Fields (2939). Sauron has been based in Dol Guldur for 471 years by now. In 2951, Dol Guldur is occupied by three of the Nazgûl. 2957 onwards Aragorn undertakes great journeys but mainly in Rohan and Gondor. I doubt he interacted with the Nazgûl during this time. 3009 onwards Aragorn starts searching for Gollum around Mordor. As far as I know, the Nazgûl did not venture out during that time. Then in IV 23, the "Black Riders" chase the rangers eastward, but I was under the impression that Aragorn was not one of these rangers. Am I wrong? If so, that would be his first, personal interaction with the Nazgûl.

Of course, the pain of remembrance does not have to be from a first-hand meeting. The Dúnedain have been fighting the dark forces for years. And Eärnur was slain by the Witch-king.

(Still, it was a fun search. The things I will do instead of doing research. )

Edit: Post composition took while. Cross-posted with V. Yes, it does look like we don't know.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 8:21 am 
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Mahima - I like your thinking ;)

Was Aragorn not with the Rangers at Sarn Ford, then?
If not, perhaps he was remembering the terror of those Rangers who managed to survive...

Quote:
The Nazgûl reached the Brandywine River on the southern border of the Shire on September 22. The crossing at Sarn Ford was guarded by Rangers, who were the remnants of the Dúnedain of the North. The Rangers tried to stop the Nazgûl from entering the Shire, but they could not withstand the Nine Nazgûl and when night fell, the Rangers were all slain or driven away.

According to "The Tale of Years" in Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings, four of the Nazgûl entered the Shire while the other five pursued the Rangers eastward and then watched the roads. Gandalf also stated that four Nazgûl entered the Shire at the Council of Elrond.

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:00 pm 
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It says somewhere (I think The Hunt for the Ring) that the Rangers at Sarn Ford would not have been able to withstand the Nine "even had their captain Aragorn been there."


I suspect Aragorn's experience went much further back: we learn that after he left Gondor's service as "Thorongil" his path led eastward, towards Morgul Vale.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:16 pm 
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of Vinyamar
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Or perhaps when he was Trotter?

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 3:18 pm 
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Ah, thanks Solicitr, that does ring a bell now. I think you're probably right - the Morgul Vale would have inspired terror in any passer-by!

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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 5:04 pm 
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Yes, Alatar: in early drafts Trotter the Hobbit had been tortured by the Black Riders, hence the wooden shoes. The current passage may well be a survival from that phase.


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PostPosted: Thu Feb 19, 2009 6:16 pm 
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Ah, there you go. An explanation arises.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:04 pm 
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I always enjoy a chapter-by-chapter reading of LOTR, but I am usually content to just lurk. This time I feel obligated to post. :)

I have a friend who is reading LOTR for the first time. She has never seen the movies and wants to, but not until she's read the book. So I've been encouraging her. I hope she joins here, but I believe she's a bit shy.

It's quite fascinating to hear a true Tolkien virgin's perspective. She has no idea-none!!-of what happens in this story. :shock:

She is a little apprehensive of Strider. She is worried about why he wants to have a private talk with Frodo, and why does the innkeeper want to talk with him too? I think she expects either Butterbur or Strider to be a bad guy.

(By the way, she thought Tommy B. was a bit strange. "All that singing! He was weird." :rofl:)


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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:16 pm 
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Duffy, do keep us informed about your friends progress, and her thoughts as she goes a long. And keep encouraging her to join up herself.

And please share your own thoughts, as well!

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:26 pm 
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My goodness, yes, encourage her to join us!! It's been so long since I read the book for the first time . . .

I never followed the "virgin" threads anywhere else, but I would gladly do so here.

Strider is sometimes accused of being wooden. (Maybe a holdover from those feet . . .) But I never found him wooden or unsympathetic, he struck me from the beginning as a man of great power. And I agree totally that if he was in league with the enemy he would have "seemed fairer and feel fouler". He does "look foul and feel fair".

Years ago I used to read Zane Grey. One of his characters was a man named Lew Wetzel - I believe he was supposed to be a real person, someone who knew an ancestor of Grey's, a woman named Betty Zane. At any rate, Strider immediately made me think of Lew Wetzel - quiet and deadly.

Still, I was one of the many readers who had no clue what Aragorn was dreaming about at Cerin Amroth.

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:39 pm 
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Oh, I hope she joins us. :) That would be fun to hear from a Tolkien virgin as she goes along the story. (It's been years now for me, so my memory can be a little fuzzy.)

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PostPosted: Mon Feb 23, 2009 11:49 pm 
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Try to imagine how hard it is for me to NOT discuss the story with her, and just let her discover it for herself. I was biting my tongue to keep from giving away important information. I do not want to spoil it for her!! :help:


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