Chapter Of The Week LOTR Bk1 Ch11: A Knife In The Dark

15 views
Skip to first unread message

Belba Grubb from Stock

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 8:44:29 AM3/29/04
to
CHAPTER OF THE WEEK LOTR BK1 CH11: A KNIFE IN THE DARK

To check out the other Chapters of the Week or to sign up to do a
chapter of your own, go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org

"What are we coming to?" a horrified Barliman asks Strider, who gives
him an uncomfortable reply: "Dark times." Indeed the times darken
for everybody in this chapter, but at the same time, in Strider's
company we see some beautiful lands and encounter a little of the
history of Elves and Men and hear some elven poetry, all told to us by
one whom it concerns deeply. The stars and the fire shine more
brightly as the night darkens, and the contrasts here between light
and dark, the present and deep past, wonder and great fear make this
is one of my favorite chapters in the whole story.
_________________________

CHAPTER SUMMARY:

As Frodo and friends go to sleep in Bree, Fatty Bolger back at
Crickhollow has had a growing sense of dread all day, and when he sees
dark shapes in the yard at dusk, knows he must run for it or perish.
Three Black Riders attack Crickhollow, but just as they break down the
front door and enter, the Horn-call of Buckland sounds for the first
time in over a hundred years: Fatty has escaped and made it to a
neighboring house, and although incoherent with fear, has alerted
Buckland to "some strange invasion from the Old Forest." The alarm
spreads and the Black Riders flee, riding down the guards at the North
Gate, having learned that the Ring has left the Shire.

At the inn in Bree, the hobbits and Strider go to the hobbits' bedroom
in the morning and discover that the windows have been forced and the
room and furnishings trashed. Barliman is very upset to learn of the
attack and then to discover that his stable has been raided and all
the horses and ponies are gone. Strider is concerned about the
hobbits' ability to carry enough supplies to last them during the long
trip to Rivendell on foot, as he had been planning to use the ponies
to carry baggage, and Barliman manages to find one "poor old
half-starved" horse Bill Ferny will sell to them for about three times
its worth. Living up to his promise made to the hobbits in the
previous chapter (to make it up to them for failing to deliver
Gandalf's letter to Frodo), Butterbur pays for the pony and then gives
Merry 18 pence as some compensation for his lost ponies.

By the time the hobbits have gathered up fresh supplies and packed up
again, it's almost 10 o'clock, and a huge crowd of bystanders has
gathered to see them off. Because of the crowd Strider decides to
take the hobbits straight down the Road for a ways instead of cutting
across country immediately. Several miles east of Bree he takes a
narrow track that leads north off the Road, and then after setting a
wandering trail through the beautiful Chetwood to throw off any
pursuers, he cuts straight across country for Weathertop. They
encounter nobody along the way and spend a couple of miserable days
crossing the Midgewater Marshes. On the night of the second day in
the Marshes (October 3), Frodo and Strider see a light in the east
that flashes and fades many times; they don't know what it is.

Once out of the Marshes they head for the line of hills north of
Weathertop, intending to come to Weathertop from the north and
unobserved. They find the path and while following it to Weathertop,
learn from Strider, who is remarkably knowledgeable about the history
of the old days, that it was made to serve the forts atop the Weather
Hills long ago during the days when the Dunedain of the North held
them against Angmar for a while. Sam surprises everybody by reciting
a few stanzas of "The Fall of Gil-Galad," which he thinks Bilbo wrote,
but which Strider says Bilbo actually translated from an elven lay.

They reach Weathertop at around noon on October 6 and find no one
there. Merry, Frodo, Sam and Strider leave Merry and Pippin to watch
over their packs and the pony in a dell on the west side of the
mountain while they climb to the top of the mountain for a look
around. The stone circle made by the ruins of the old watch tower of
Amon Sul at the crest of Weathertop and all the grass around it are
blackened and burned by a recent fire, but they find nobody up there.
Strider does find a stone set as if for a marker with a mysterious
inscription on it that he believes is a sign that Gandalf was there on
October 3, when they had seen the flashing lights in this direction.
He believes Gandalf was here then and was in danger and attacked here
but with what result he cannot know. They also see five Black Riders
gathering on the road east of Weathertop and rush down to join Merry
and Pippin in the dell.

In the dell Strider hears that footprints have been discovered, as
well as some firewood and a spring of water. Merry and Pippin have
messed up the prints, however, and he can't say for sure who has been
there, although he can tell it was Rangers who left the wood. He
believes many booted feet have been in the dell, and everybody at once
thinks of the booted and cloaked Black Riders. While they all want to
leave as quickly as possible, Strider counsels them to stay there
because it's getting late, they are out of sight there for the moment
and would be seen wherever they went, and there is no place better
they can reach before dark. Frodo freaks out, knowing that if he
moves he will be hunted and if he stays put the Ring will draw the
Black Riders to him, but Strider comforts him and says the firewood
left is a sign of hope. Though it stirs Sam's suspicions, he tells
them fire is their best friend in the wilderness.

They light a fire in the lowest and most sheltered part of the dell
and have supper. Afterwards, as it grows dark and cold around them,
Strider tells them many tales "of Elves and Men and the good and evil
deeds of the Elder Days" to keep their minds from fear, including part
of the Lay of Leithian, which is the story of Beren and Luthien.

When he stops speaking, Frodo feels a cold dread creeping over him.
Sam and Merry get up and walk away from the fire, but soon come
rushing back with the news that "two or three" black shapes are
creeping up the mountain slope toward them. Strider tells them to keep
close to the fire, facing outward, with some of the longer sticks in
their hands at the ready. They see three or four black figures appear
at the top of the dell and stand there for a moment, looking down at
them. Then the figures advance. Pippin and Merry are overcome with
terror and throw themselves down on the ground. Sam shrinks to
Frodo's side. Frodo is overcome by a powerful temptation to put on
the Ring. He can't resist it and slips the Ring onto the forefinger
of his left hand. At once he sees the attackers:

"…five tall figures: two standing on the lip of the dell,
three advancing. In their white faces burned keen and
merciless eyes; under their mantles were long grey robes; upon
their grey hairs were helms of silver; in their haggard hands
were swords of steel. Their eyes fell on him and pierced him,
as they rushed towards him. Desperate, he drew his own sword,
and it seemed to him that it flickered red, as if it was a
firebrand. Two of the figures halted. The third was taller
than the others: his hair was long and gleaming and on his
helm was a crown. In one hand he held a long sword, and in
the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it
glowed with a pale light. He sprang forward and bore down on
Frodo."

Frodo's reaction to this is a complex one - a terrified hobbit, he
throws himself down on the ground; an Elf-friend, he also cries aloud
the name of the Queen of the Valar, Elbereth Gilthoniel; and resistant
to the last, he strikes at the feet of the Black Rider who is
attacking him. The Witch-king shrieks when the name of Elbereth is
used, but still stabs Frodo in the left shoulder as Strider comes
leaping out of the darkness at him with flaming logs in either hand.
Frodo drops his sword, slips off the Ring, grasps it tightly and
passes out.
_________________________

Whew.

DISCUSSION SUGGESTIONS: (Note: I misunderstood how this series goes
at first and thought that whoever does a chapter isn't supposed to
participate in the discussion afterwards, having already had their
say, but I see now it's entirely a matter of taste. I'm gabby and so
will probably join in some, but not too much, as my main thoughts are
already expressed.)

-- We learn a lot about the Black Riders in this chapter. Strider
tells us of them, and Frodo sees them as they are on the other side.
And at Crickhollow we learn that fear and terror aren't their only
weapons: they might not attack a crowded inn but they have no qualms
about attacking an isolated resident; they're able to break down a
door with one blow, ride down hobbits on guard at the North Gate, and
later can stab Frodo. And yet they shriek at the very name of
Elbereth and fear fire. It's interesting, too, that just Frodo's
drawing his barrow blade is enough to stop two of the Nazgul, though
not the Witch-king, even in such a lopsided situation with all the
advantages to the ghouls. Any more thoughts on the nature and
dangers, strengths and weaknesses of these very complicated beings?

-- The Horn-Call of Buckland gives us a clue to the martial history of
the Shire just at the very last time we see the Shire until the end of
the story. Is this coincidence or does it further the story in some
way?

-- Is that squint-eyed southerner friend of Ferny truly one of
Saruman's Orc-Men? Is he the first or only the latest of Saruman's
spies in Bree?

-- Strider really takes over here, but all the other characters
(including Barley and Ferny) reveal more about themselves in the way
they react to him, no? And Strider himself shows an interesting trait
that he will continue to display on several occasions - uncertainty
when an important decision needs to be made. Is that a weakness of
his, or a strength? And why can Frodo, with the Ring on, see Strider
and those flaming logs he's carrying so clearly? Is it because of
Strider's Elven heritage?

-- This is not really a vital point in the overall story, but I've
always been curious how Merry's ponies managed to get out of Bree that
night, with both the North and South Gates locked. ???

-- Of note, since JRRT believed that promises kept are vital to a
fairy-tale, we learn that Barliman was rewarded for keeping his word
to the hobbits to make it up to them, even at a severe monetary cost
to him at the time, by eventually getting a large number of work
ponies at a very good price. Come to think of it, so many people are
bound by promises to one another in this story, and this also makes
Gandalf's failure to appear as promised very disturbing indeed.

-- This is the second time many of his readers would be heading down
the Road toward Rivendell and JRRT knew it. On rereading the chapter
for this discussion, I thought there were couple of echoes of that
first trip in "The Hobbit" - for instance, on one particularly
melancholy evening:

"The hobbits thought of the soft light of sunset glancing
through the cheerful windows of Bag End far away."

This reminded me of Bilbo's thinking of his comfortable home "not for
the last time." But here, that little reassuring phrase is absent,
reminding the reader that this trip is going to be very, very
different and much more iffy than Bilbo's pleasant 'there and back
again' experience. Did JRRT do this on purpose or is it too much to
read into it? Are there other similar mentions in this chapter?

-- What are everybody's thoughts on "The Forsaken Inn"? What's it
like, who goes there, does it siphon off any of "The Pony's" traffic,
and …..

-- I just love how JRRT allows "The Silmarillion" and his other words,
specifically, the "Lay of Leithian," to touch "The Lord of the Rings"
here, though of course I didn't appreciate it at first because I'd
never heard of either "The Silmarillion" or the "Lay of Leithian"
then. But I knew that there were tales of the Elder Days somewhere,
and of Elves and Men, and that Strider and Bilbo knew them. You can
just feel it all there at Weathertop, even without knowing about
JRRT's other works. Those moments at Weathertop, with Strider telling
us how Elendil waited there for Gil-Galad, and by the fire that night,
are the points for me where, as JRRT says must be the case for any
good fairy-tale, the question "Is it true?" is answered in the
affirmative. Of course it's true: there are the ruins of Amon Sul atop
the mountain to prove it. But we must not linger - there is danger
here, and we are on a quest…..

-- Science geek note: We learn the moon was waxing on the night of
October 4, and that "in the early night-hours a cold grey light lay on
the land." JRRT said that he worked out the sun and moon times as
they would have been for 1942, but I don't know how he did this. In
this lesser, mechanical age I ran the date October 4, 1942, through
the US Navy's Sun and Moon data site at
http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.html, using coordinates of
51 degrees 75 minutes North and 1 degree 25 minutes West for Oxford,
and learned that the moon was a waning crescent on October 4, 1942,
and that it rose at 23.36 on the preceding day and set in
mid-afternoon of the 4th; thus it wouldn't have been visible to the
hobbits and Strider until it rose again shortly after midnight, late
in the night and not early, and waning, not waxing. I don't care - I
believe JRRT over the machine (g), but wonder if anyone can explain
the discrepancy. I did adjust for the Shire calendar, but really with
the extra days added in for a particular year, October 4 to the
hobbits is still October 4 to us, no?

-- And your thoughts and comments…..?

Jamie Armstrong

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 9:55:27 AM3/29/04
to
Belba Grubb from Stock wrote:
> CHAPTER OF THE WEEK LOTR BK1 CH11: A KNIFE IN THE DARK

<snip>

> It's interesting, too, that just Frodo's
> drawing his barrow blade is enough to stop two of the Nazgul, though
> not the Witch-king, even in such a lopsided situation with all the
> advantages to the ghouls. Any more thoughts on the nature and
> dangers, strengths and weaknesses of these very complicated beings?
>

I've never seen the need to assume that the Nazgul stop *because* Frodo
draws his sword: I don't think they have any need to be afraid of these
four halflings and a raggedy wanderer, given that they *are* The Nazgul!
I think this is backed up by the fact that while two of the advancing
wraiths stopped, the Witch King had no hesitation at all, and instead
"...sprang forwards and bore down on Frodo". It's merely a coincidence,
IMO: they intended to do this all along. Otherwise you are assuming a
cause and effect.

Jamie

--
"The more I see of the world, the more am I dissatisfied with it; and
every day confirms my belief of the inconsistency of all human
characters, and of the little dependence that can be placed on the
appearance of either merit or sense."

Jane Austen, Pride and Prejudice

samaritan

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 12:32:57 PM3/29/04
to

"Jamie Armstrong" <j.d.ar...@durham.ac.uk> wrote

>
> > It's interesting, too, that just Frodo's
> > drawing his barrow blade is enough to stop two of the Nazgul, though
> > not the Witch-king, even in such a lopsided situation with all the
> > advantages to the ghouls. Any more thoughts on the nature and
> > dangers, strengths and weaknesses of these very complicated beings?

It's an oft-repeated thought - the Nazgul's primary weapon is fear and they
ain't so tough really.
I sometimes wonder what was going on when the Witch King faced off against
Gandalf the White at the gate of Minas Tirith, shortly before getting
smeared by a girl. Surely Gandalf would have wiped the floor with him had
not run away first.


Elwë Singollo

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 2:01:31 PM3/29/04
to
<snip, excellent summary>

> DISCUSSION SUGGESTIONS: (Note: I misunderstood how this series goes
> at first and thought that whoever does a chapter isn't supposed to
> participate in the discussion afterwards, having already had their
> say, but I see now it's entirely a matter of taste. I'm gabby and so
> will probably join in some, but not too much, as my main thoughts are
> already expressed.)
>

> It's interesting, too, that just Frodo's
> drawing his barrow blade is enough to stop two of the Nazgul, though
> not the Witch-king, even in such a lopsided situation with all the
> advantages to the ghouls. Any more thoughts on the nature and
> dangers, strengths and weaknesses of these very complicated beings?

In my opinion, they were fraighten by Frodo's blade. Nazgūl seem to have a
little allergy to westerness blades, so that might explain why some of them
stopped when they saw the hated object...
>

> -- Is that squint-eyed southerner friend of Ferny truly one of
> Saruman's Orc-Men? Is he the first or only the latest of Saruman's
> spies in Bree?

In the unfinished tales, it is written that many thought he had some
orc-blood flowing in his veins. It is probably not true. He was a very
violent and crual man, and that made people think he had orcish blood,
giving them a reason to kick him out of dunland. If he was 50% man and 50%
orc, he would probably not be regognized as a "man", and Butterbur would not
have accepted him in his inn.

There are some interesting information about this man in UT. He was caught
by the Nazgūl and they discovered a map of the shire on him, proof that
Saruman knew this part of middle-earth, even if he denied it when the Nazgul
paid him a little visit (approximately when Gandalf escaped from Orthanc
IIRC). The Nazgūl didn't kill the man, but forced him to go back to Bree and
to inform the witch-king, and not Saruman the traitor of any inhabitual
thing happening in Bree. Therfore, Although The man was originally a spy of
Saruman, he was in fact working for the witch-king at the time Frodo and the
hobbits came to Bree.

>
> -- Strider really takes over here, but all the other characters
> (including Barley and Ferny) reveal more about themselves in the way
> they react to him, no? And Strider himself shows an interesting trait
> that he will continue to display on several occasions - uncertainty
> when an important decision needs to be made. Is that a weakness of
> his, or a strength? And why can Frodo, with the Ring on, see Strider
> and those flaming logs he's carrying so clearly? Is it because of
> Strider's Elven heritage?

When Frodo put on the ring, his perception of the surroundings do not
change -- except for the Nazgūl of course. So there is no surprise he can
see Aragorn and the flamings logs. The burning logs probably produced enough
light for Frodo to see what was happending. The fact that he does not
perceive the scene clearly was certainly due to the pain he was feeling at
that very moment.

> -- Of note, since JRRT believed that promises kept are vital to a
> fairy-tale, we learn that Barliman was rewarded for keeping his word
> to the hobbits to make it up to them, even at a severe monetary cost
> to him at the time, by eventually getting a large number of work
> ponies at a very good price. Come to think of it, so many people are
> bound by promises to one another in this story, and this also makes
> Gandalf's failure to appear as promised very disturbing indeed.

I've always been surprised by Butterbur's attitude towards the company after
discovering what happened during the night. He feels guilty that his guests
couldn't sleep well, but do not seem to care that -- as Aragorn says it
clearly -- that the Nazgūl came to Bree because of Frodo. Any other
inn-keeper would have put the responsability ont the back of the Hobbits.
His attitude seems sincere and is apparently not related to his mistake with
Gandalf's letter. Any thought on that?

Elwė


AC

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 3:56:28 PM3/29/04
to
On Mon, 29 Mar 2004 07:44:29 -0600,
Belba Grubb from Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> wrote:
> CHAPTER OF THE WEEK LOTR BK1 CH11: A KNIFE IN THE DARK

<snip>

> -- Is that squint-eyed southerner friend of Ferny truly one of
> Saruman's Orc-Men? Is he the first or only the latest of Saruman's
> spies in Bree?

I'm fairly certain the fellow is. I also suspect that Saruman's agents had
been crawling over Eriador for some time.

> -- What are everybody's thoughts on "The Forsaken Inn"? What's it
> like, who goes there, does it siphon off any of "The Pony's" traffic,
> and ..

It appears to be nothing other than a name. Still, I expect that travellers
would still stop at Bree even if they had been through the Forsaken Inn
first.

--
Aaron Clausen
mightym...@hotmail.com

Pete Gray

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 4:27:25 PM3/29/04
to
On Mon, 29 Mar 2004 18:32:57 +0100, "samaritan" <noe...@hotmail.com>
wrote:

>
>"Jamie Armstrong" <j.d.ar...@durham.ac.uk> wrote
>
>>
>> > It's interesting, too, that just Frodo's
>> > drawing his barrow blade is enough to stop two of the Nazgul, though
>> > not the Witch-king, even in such a lopsided situation with all the
>> > advantages to the ghouls. Any more thoughts on the nature and
>> > dangers, strengths and weaknesses of these very complicated beings?
>
>It's an oft-repeated thought - the Nazgul's primary weapon is fear and they

Fear and surprise...Their primary weapons are fear and surprise and
ruthless efficiency.... their *three* weapons are fear, surprise, and
ruthless efficiency...and an almost fanatical devotion to the Dark
Lord...
--
Pete Gray
while ($cat!="home"){$mice=="play";}

the softrat

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 4:52:05 PM3/29/04
to
On Mon, 29 Mar 2004 07:44:29 -0600, Belba Grubb from Stock
<ba...@dbtech.net> wrote:

>CHAPTER OF THE WEEK LOTR BK1 CH11: A KNIFE IN THE DARK
>
>To check out the other Chapters of the Week or to sign up to do a

<snip>

>the extra days added in for a particular year, October 4 to the
>hobbits is still October 4 to us, no?
>
>-- And your thoughts and comments…..?

You know that there is a problem when the synopsis and the initial
discussion are longer than the chapter.


the softrat
"LotR: Eleven Oscars! Right up there with _Titanic_!"
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--
Smith & Wesson - The original point and click interface...

Pete Gray

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 5:17:35 PM3/29/04
to
On 29 Mar 2004 20:56:28 GMT, AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote:

>On Mon, 29 Mar 2004 07:44:29 -0600,
>Belba Grubb from Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> wrote:
>> CHAPTER OF THE WEEK LOTR BK1 CH11: A KNIFE IN THE DARK
>

>> -- What are everybody's thoughts on "The Forsaken Inn"? What's it
>> like, who goes there, does it siphon off any of "The Pony's" traffic,
>> and ..
>
>It appears to be nothing other than a name. Still, I expect that travellers
>would still stop at Bree even if they had been through the Forsaken Inn
>first.

Well the Forsaken Inn was a _day's journey east of Bree_ -- hardly
close enough to be competition. And of course, only on the east-west
road, unlike the Pony.

Raven

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 6:06:43 PM3/29/04
to
"Belba Grubb from Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> skrev i en meddelelse
news:cn9g601d6qn320r3o...@4ax.com...

> -- This is not really a vital point in the overall story, but I've
> always been curious how Merry's ponies managed to get out of Bree that
> night, with both the North and South Gates locked. ???

Perhaps one of the gate-keepers was in league with Saruman's spies.
Harry Goatleaf at the gate is not presented as a trustworthy person.
Butterbur, in a much later chapter, is of the opinion that he and Bill Ferny
were the ones to let the ruffians into Bree village on the night of the
fight where five Breelanders were killed.

> -- What are everybody's thoughts on "The Forsaken Inn"? What's it
> like, who goes there, does it siphon off any of "The Pony's" traffic,

> and ...

I suppose the Forsaken Inn is precisely that. It was a thriving inn
once, but with the much reduced travel on the Road, particularly the East
Road leading towards the Misty Mountains, it has been abandoned. Its ruins,
whatever their state of disrepair, still stand, and the old disused inn is
still remembered in Breeland.

> I did adjust for the Shire calendar, but really with
> the extra days added in for a particular year, October 4 to the
> hobbits is still October 4 to us, no?

Not quite. If you look into Appendix D, you will find that Tolkien
writes that "... and our New Year's Day corresponded more or less to the
Shire January 9". You have to subtract nine days, if going by this comment.
The 4. of October by the Shire-reckoning corresponds to the 25. of September
by ours, more or less.
If, on the 4. of October 1942 the Moon was a waning crescent, it would
have been near full nine days earlier, though I don't know how thin the
waning crescent was that was referred to in your data from that web site.
If the Moon was slightly less than half, then nine days earlier it would
have been gibbous and waxing. If it was near new, then nine days earlier it
would have been gibbous and waning, after full. The leeway added by
Tolkien's "more or less" will absorb a few days' worth of additional
discrepancy.

Harvan.


Matthew Woodcraft

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 6:49:31 PM3/29/04
to
Belba Grubb from Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> wrote:
>-- Science geek note: We learn the moon was waxing on the night of
>October 4, and that "in the early night-hours a cold grey light lay on
>the land." JRRT said that he worked out the sun and moon times as
>they would have been for 1942, but I don't know how he did this.

I think 1942 was for 3019, so you want 1941.

-M-

aelfwina

unread,
Mar 29, 2004, 10:44:38 PM3/29/04
to

"Belba Grubb from Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> wrote in message
news:cn9g601d6qn320r3o...@4ax.com...

> CHAPTER OF THE WEEK LOTR BK1 CH11: A KNIFE IN THE DARK
>
> To check out the other Chapters of the Week or to sign up to do a
> chapter of your own, go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org
>
Snip of really good summary

> DISCUSSION SUGGESTIONS: (Note: I misunderstood how this series goes
> at first and thought that whoever does a chapter isn't supposed to
> participate in the discussion afterwards, having already had their
> say, but I see now it's entirely a matter of taste. I'm gabby and so
> will probably join in some, but not too much, as my main thoughts are
> already expressed.)
>
> -- We learn a lot about the Black Riders in this chapter. Strider
> tells us of them, and Frodo sees them as they are on the other side.
> And at Crickhollow we learn that fear and terror aren't their only
> weapons: they might not attack a crowded inn but they have no qualms
> about attacking an isolated resident; they're able to break down a
> door with one blow, ride down hobbits on guard at the North Gate, and
> later can stab Frodo. And yet they shriek at the very name of
> Elbereth and fear fire. It's interesting, too, that just Frodo's
> drawing his barrow blade is enough to stop two of the Nazgul, though
> not the Witch-king, even in such a lopsided situation with all the
> advantages to the ghouls. Any more thoughts on the nature and
> dangers, strengths and weaknesses of these very complicated beings?

I've often wondered if one weakness of the Ringwraiths, is, that being
enslaved so thoroughly to Sauron's will, they might be sapped of a lot of
their own initiative. Not entirely, of course, or they'd be useless to him;
but I see it as a possible side effect. If that were so, it might explain
some of their seemingly strange failures.
The WK obviously retained more power and will than the others, but still,
none of them seem to follow through on their advantages at times, and that
seems a plausible explanation.

> -- The Horn-Call of Buckland gives us a clue to the martial history of
> the Shire just at the very last time we see the Shire until the end of
> the story. Is this coincidence or does it further the story in some
> way?

I see it as a small foreshadowing of the Scouring.


>
> -- Is that squint-eyed southerner friend of Ferny truly one of
> Saruman's Orc-Men? Is he the first or only the latest of Saruman's
> spies in Bree?

I doubt if he was the first; I'm sure he had a number of those spies.


>
> -- Strider really takes over here, but all the other characters
> (including Barley and Ferny) reveal more about themselves in the way
> they react to him, no? And Strider himself shows an interesting trait
> that he will continue to display on several occasions - uncertainty
> when an important decision needs to be made. Is that a weakness of
> his, or a strength? And why can Frodo, with the Ring on, see Strider
> and those flaming logs he's carrying so clearly? Is it because of
> Strider's Elven heritage?
>
> -- This is not really a vital point in the overall story, but I've
> always been curious how Merry's ponies managed to get out of Bree that
> night, with both the North and South Gates locked. ???

I always figured that gatekeeper was in on it.

>
> -- Of note, since JRRT believed that promises kept are vital to a
> fairy-tale, we learn that Barliman was rewarded for keeping his word
> to the hobbits to make it up to them, even at a severe monetary cost
> to him at the time, by eventually getting a large number of work
> ponies at a very good price. Come to think of it, so many people are
> bound by promises to one another in this story, and this also makes
> Gandalf's failure to appear as promised very disturbing indeed.

Keeping one's word was extremely important, and any of the characters that
had even a remote claim to "good guy" status would do so automatically. But
also, Butterburr felt a bit guilty for not delivering Gandalf's letter.

>
> -- This is the second time many of his readers would be heading down
> the Road toward Rivendell and JRRT knew it. On rereading the chapter
> for this discussion, I thought there were couple of echoes of that
> first trip in "The Hobbit" - for instance, on one particularly
> melancholy evening:
>
> "The hobbits thought of the soft light of sunset glancing
> through the cheerful windows of Bag End far away."
>
> This reminded me of Bilbo's thinking of his comfortable home "not for
> the last time." But here, that little reassuring phrase is absent,
> reminding the reader that this trip is going to be very, very
> different and much more iffy than Bilbo's pleasant 'there and back
> again' experience. Did JRRT do this on purpose or is it too much to
> read into it? Are there other similar mentions in this chapter?

I don't know that it was on purpose. Anyone used to their creature comforts
and to safety and security is going to feel wishful about being home if they
are out somewhere dangerous and uncomfortable.

>
> -- What are everybody's thoughts on "The Forsaken Inn"? What's it
> like, who goes there, does it siphon off any of "The Pony's" traffic,

> and ...


>
> -- I just love how JRRT allows "The Silmarillion" and his other words,
> specifically, the "Lay of Leithian," to touch "The Lord of the Rings"
> here, though of course I didn't appreciate it at first because I'd
> never heard of either "The Silmarillion" or the "Lay of Leithian"
> then. But I knew that there were tales of the Elder Days somewhere,
> and of Elves and Men, and that Strider and Bilbo knew them. You can
> just feel it all there at Weathertop, even without knowing about
> JRRT's other works. Those moments at Weathertop, with Strider telling
> us how Elendil waited there for Gil-Galad, and by the fire that night,
> are the points for me where, as JRRT says must be the case for any
> good fairy-tale, the question "Is it true?" is answered in the
> affirmative. Of course it's true: there are the ruins of Amon Sul atop
> the mountain to prove it. But we must not linger - there is danger

> here, and we are on a quest...


>
> -- Science geek note: We learn the moon was waxing on the night of
> October 4, and that "in the early night-hours a cold grey light lay on
> the land." JRRT said that he worked out the sun and moon times as
> they would have been for 1942, but I don't know how he did this. In
> this lesser, mechanical age I ran the date October 4, 1942, through
> the US Navy's Sun and Moon data site at
> http://aa.usno.navy.mil/data/docs/RS_OneDay.html, using coordinates of
> 51 degrees 75 minutes North and 1 degree 25 minutes West for Oxford,
> and learned that the moon was a waning crescent on October 4, 1942,
> and that it rose at 23.36 on the preceding day and set in
> mid-afternoon of the 4th; thus it wouldn't have been visible to the
> hobbits and Strider until it rose again shortly after midnight, late
> in the night and not early, and waning, not waxing. I don't care - I
> believe JRRT over the machine (g), but wonder if anyone can explain
> the discrepancy. I did adjust for the Shire calendar, but really with
> the extra days added in for a particular year, October 4 to the
> hobbits is still October 4 to us, no?
>

> -- And your thoughts and comments...?

One of my favorite moments: Sam getting Bill Ferny in the nose with the
apple.

>


Odysseus

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 12:44:08 AM3/30/04
to
That was my initial thought, but I don't remember seeing mention of
the '1942 method'. Is the source in _Letters_ (in which case I must
have simply forgotten)?

--
Odysseus

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 1:18:05 AM3/30/04
to
in <cn9g601d6qn320r3o...@4ax.com>,
Belba Grubb from Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> enriched us with:

>
> CHAPTER OF THE WEEK LOTR BK1 CH11: A KNIFE IN THE DARK

<snip>

Excellent presentation, Barb. Thank you.

> -- We learn a lot about the Black Riders in this chapter.

[...]


> And yet they shriek at the very name of Elbereth and fear fire.

I suppose that the "shrill cry" might have been some kind of battle cry -
it does remind me of the "long-drawn wail" the Hobbits heard in the Shire.
The effect of Frodo's invocation of Elbereth's name on the Witch-king has
been much discussed here and often called in question (how could the
Ringwraiths hold such a great terror if all you had to do was to cry "/O
Elbereth! Gilthoniel!/" to scare them off?)

Personally I prefer to believe Aragorn's assertion that "more deadly to him
was the name of Elbereth," though I am uncertain of how large the effect
was - possibly it was just the surprise at the unexpected opposition, but
at the other end of the scale it might also have had a banishing or
expelling effect when Frodo used it (some kind of grace or providence?)

> It's interesting, too, that just Frodo's drawing his barrow blade is
> enough to stop two of the Nazgul, though not the Witch-king,

It does seem that way, doesn't it.
We do have Tolkien's explanation from letter #210 that if Sam had stabbed a
Ringwraith "the result would have been much the same as in III 117-20 the
Wraith would have fallen down and the sword would have been destroyed." I
guess it's quite likely that some of the lesser wraiths did indeed pause
because of Frodo's blade.

Another question about that blade: when it seems to Frodo that it flickers
red, is this then because of the spells on the blade as seen from "the
other side" or is it an effect similar to Sting's glow at the presence of
Orcs? In other words - do the others see this red flickering or not?

> even in such a lopsided situation with all the advantages to the ghouls.

Which brings to mind another of the long-standing debates of our groups:
that of the intention/strategy of the Ringwraiths at Weathertop. Did they
intend from the beginning of their attack to take the Ring there and then,
or did they intend to first stab the Ring-bearer and only capture the Ring
if the opportunity arose?

Personally I have no problem accepting Aragorn's explanation that "They are
only waiting, because they think that their purpose is almost accomplished,
and that the Ring cannot fly much further."

> Any more thoughts on the nature and dangers, strengths and weaknesses
> of these very complicated beings?

We learn in UT about their fear of water, and though Tolkien noted that the
idea was difficult to sustain, I think it is necessary to explain both the
events at the Bucklebury Ferry and at the Ford of Bruinen. In particular I
think that the passage, "He knew of nothing that would prevent them from
crossing as easily as he had done" implies that such reasons actually do
exist even if Frodo knows them not - and as the Nazgûl stopped "at the the
water's edge" before the flood, it seems that something did make them
hesitate there.

> -- The Horn-Call of Buckland gives us a clue to the martial history of
> the Shire just at the very last time we see the Shire until the end of
> the story. Is this coincidence or does it further the story in some
> way?

It lays the ground, I think, for the resistance in the scouring. It shows
that the courage of Frodo and friends is, perhaps, not as unique among
Hobbits as one might otherwise think, thus making their spirit of
resistance in the end more believable.

> -- Is that squint-eyed southerner friend of Ferny truly one of
> Saruman's Orc-Men?

I'd say so, yes.

"... half a dozen large ill-favoured Men lounging against the
inn-wall; they were squint-eyed and sallow-faced.
'Like that friend of Bill Ferny's at Bree,' said Sam.
'Like many that I saw at Isengard,' muttered Merry."

From VI, 8 /The Scouring of the Shire/


> Is he the first or only the latest of Saruman's spies in Bree?

Only the latest - one of the last things Gandalf tells the Hobbits before
riding off to visit Tom Bombadil as they go home was that Saruman "begain
to take an interest in the Shire before Mordor did."

> And Strider himself shows an interesting trait that he will continue
> to display on several occasions - uncertainty when an important
> decision needs to be made. Is that a weakness of his, or a strength?

Whether a weakness or not, I don't buy the picture of self-doubt that is
painted in the films. In most situations he takes the lead and is not only
the guide, but the actual decision-maker of the company.

I think that we are rather seeing him consider the options, trying to
choose the wisest course.

> And why can Frodo, with the Ring on, see Strider and those flaming
> logs he's carrying so clearly? Is it because of Strider's Elven
> heritage?

My impression is that Frodo does see the primary world when he's wearing
the Ring, but unclearly - "as through a swirling mist" as his glimpse of
Strider is described. I think it's quite normal - he also sees Merry
"staring blankly at his chair" when he slips on the Ring at Tom Bombadil's.

<snip>

> -- This is not really a vital point in the overall story, but I've
> always been curious how Merry's ponies managed to get out of Bree that
> night, with both the North and South Gates locked. ???

This, to my mind, raises another question. Who broke into the Prancing Pony
and slashed the Hobbits' beds? Was it Ringwraiths or Ferny and cohorts?
Frodo wakes up "in the early night", but he doesn't seem to feel the fear -
or terror - which is normally associated with the Ringwraiths, and the
other Hobbits continue their sleep.

<snip>

> -- What are everybody's thoughts on "The Forsaken Inn"? What's it
> like, who goes there, does it siphon off any of "The Pony's" traffic,

> and ...

I thought it was indeed forsaken - a mere ruin from earlier days when the
land was under the Kings.

<snip>

> I did adjust for the Shire calendar, but really with the extra days
> added in for a particular year, October 4 to the hobbits is still
> October 4 to us, no?

Let's see: 1 Yule would be December 31st, which would make December and
November (Blothmath and Foreyule) fit nicely (as November has 30 days).
30th October (Winterfilth) would then correspond to our October 31st, which
would make October 4th correspond to October 5th - not enough to make a
difference on the moon.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail address is t.forch(a)mail.dk

Knowing what
thou knowest not
is in a sense
omniscience
- Piet Hein, /Omniscience/

Odysseus

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 5:01:38 AM3/30/04
to
Raven wrote:
>
> Not quite. If you look into Appendix D, you will find that Tolkien
> writes that "... and our New Year's Day corresponded more or less to the
> Shire January 9". You have to subtract nine days, if going by this comment.
> The 4. of October by the Shire-reckoning corresponds to the 25. of September
> by ours, more or less.

The discrepancy varies over the course of a year; the Shire
calendar's months have only thirty days each, but it includes five
'extra' days during Yule and Lithe. In a year for which our 1 January
is 9 Afteryule (Jan) in the Shire (eight days later, not nine, BTW),
implying that 1 Yule corresponds to 22 December of the previous
Gregorian year, the difference in dates would range between six days
(1 Jul = 7 Afterlithe) and nine (1 Feb, Jun, Nov, or Dec = 10
Solmath, Forelithe, Blotmath, or Foreyule respectively). Our 4
October would thus correspond to 26 Halimath (Sep) -- that must be
within a "more or less" of the 25th!

--
Odysseus

Odysseus

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 5:47:40 AM3/30/04
to
Troels Forchhammer wrote:
>
> Let's see: 1 Yule would be December 31st, which would make December and
> November (Blothmath and Foreyule) fit nicely (as November has 30 days).
> 30th October (Winterfilth) would then correspond to our October 31st, which
> would make October 4th correspond to October 5th - not enough to make a
> difference on the moon.
>
You seem to have started off on the wrong foot; see Raven/Harvan's
post upthread, and my reply to it. The first day of Yule is right
around the winter solstice, which typically falls on 22 December by
our calendar.

See also the FAQ at

<http://tolkien.slimy.com/tfaq/Hobbits.html#Birthday>.

--
Odysseus

Jamie Armstrong

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 8:04:27 AM3/30/04
to
samaritan wrote:
> "Jamie Armstrong" <j.d.ar...@durham.ac.uk> wrote
>
>>>It's interesting, too, that just Frodo's
>>>drawing his barrow blade is enough to stop two of the Nazgul, though
>>>not the Witch-king, even in such a lopsided situation with all the
>>>advantages to the ghouls. Any more thoughts on the nature and
>>>dangers, strengths and weaknesses of these very complicated beings?

<snip>

Please attribute quotes correctly! Belba said that, not me.

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 6:38:37 AM3/30/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
> in <cn9g601d6qn320r3o...@4ax.com>,
> Belba Grubb from Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> enriched us with:

> Another question about that blade: when it seems to Frodo that it flickers


> red, is this then because of the spells on the blade as seen from "the
> other side" or is it an effect similar to Sting's glow at the presence of
> Orcs?

In both cases, it's the presence of some sort of spell, so the difference
is probably not so great.

My guess is that in the "otherworld", one can see the "otherworldly"
or "magical" nature of things more clearly, so the red flicker is
probably an effect of the (magical, or semi-magical) nature of the
sword.

> In other words - do the others see this red flickering or not?

It is not mentioned again, even as Merry attacks the Nazgul much later,
So I'd say a good guess is that the others don't see it.

> Personally I have no problem accepting Aragorn's explanation that "They are
> only waiting, because they think that their purpose is almost accomplished,
> and that the Ring cannot fly much further."

I don't have a problem with that, either.

>> Any more thoughts on the nature and dangers, strengths and weaknesses
>> of these very complicated beings?

> We learn in UT about their fear of water, and though Tolkien noted that the
> idea was difficult to sustain,

I always thought it linked nicely to the idea of (running) water cancelling
magic, which is present some folk-tales. But I've never came across
a good overview of that theme. Anyone?

>> -- The Horn-Call of Buckland gives us a clue to the martial history of
>> the Shire just at the very last time we see the Shire until the end of
>> the story. Is this coincidence or does it further the story in some
>> way?

> It lays the ground, I think, for the resistance in the scouring.

It also fits with the image that Hobbits may look well-fed, lazy and
a bit weak from the outside, but they still have an "iron core" inherited
from former times, and can still do battle if they must. I think
Tolkien would have liked his fellow Britains to fit this image, too.

> This, to my mind, raises another question. Who broke into the Prancing Pony
> and slashed the Hobbits' beds? Was it Ringwraiths or Ferny and cohorts?

Good question. Any definitive clues in the text?

> Frodo wakes up "in the early night", but he doesn't seem to feel the fear -
> or terror - which is normally associated with the Ringwraiths, and the
> other Hobbits continue their sleep.

And one point might be that if the Nazgul did brake in, they should have
sensed the ring, and been drawn to it.

>> I did adjust for the Shire calendar, but really with the extra days
>> added in for a particular year, October 4 to the hobbits is still
>> October 4 to us, no?

> Let's see: 1 Yule would be December 31st,

As Raven (IIRC) has said, Appendix D states that Mid-year's day is
supposed to be summer solstice (which makes a lot of sense), so
Shire January 9 is "more or less" our New Years Day.

With respect to the moon phases, I think the important thing is that
they are *consistent* (and I hope they are :-). From all the text
descriptions, one could first verify this and then probably figure out
to some degree I a more exact guess at the exact phase. After that,
one could to calculate if that would fit for some particular year
around 1940 -- that might be better than doing it the other way round.

I cannot remember Tolkiens comment about having adapted the phase of
moon to one particular "real" year, either.

- Dirk

Shanahan

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 11:43:11 AM3/30/04
to
Elwė Singollo wrote:
>>Belba Grubb from Stock asked:

>> -- Is that squint-eyed southerner friend of Ferny truly one of
>> Saruman's Orc-Men? Is he the first or only the latest of Saruman's
>> spies in Bree?
>
> In the unfinished tales, it is written that many thought he had some
> orc-blood flowing in his veins. It is probably not true. He was a very
> violent and crual man, and that made people think he had orcish blood,
> giving them a reason to kick him out of dunland. If he was 50% man
> and 50% orc, he would probably not be regognized as a "man", and
> Butterbur would not have accepted him in his inn.

Is it your conclusion, Tolkien's, or his son's, that the man probably did
not have orc-blood?

I ask because I've always thought the man *was* part orc. I agree a
half-orc would have trouble "passing" as human, but there's no reason this
guy couldn't be third- or fourth-generation orc, and so only giving away
his bloodline by the sallow skin and squinty eyes. Saruman had been
breeding orcs and men for quite a while. He would very likely
deliberately breed some of his stock to pass as human in order to act as
spies.

When I think about this in detail, it is extremely creepy...breeding dens,
captives, rape, monstrous offspring <shudder>.

> There are some interesting information about this man in UT. He was
> caught by the Nazgūl and they discovered a map of the shire on him,
> proof that Saruman knew this part of middle-earth, even if he denied
> it when the Nazgul paid him a little visit (approximately when
> Gandalf escaped from Orthanc IIRC). The Nazgūl didn't kill the man,
> but forced him to go back to Bree and to inform the witch-king, and
> not Saruman the traitor of any inhabitual thing happening in Bree.
> Therfore, Although The man was originally a spy of Saruman, he was in
> fact working for the witch-king at the time Frodo and the hobbits
> came to Bree.

It's so wonderful to have these extra details about this from UT, isn't
it? I remember I jumped up and down like a kid when I first discovered
them.

- Ciaran S.
______________________________________________
> There is no doubt that in real life, the zombies of Dawn2
> would be scarier and deadlier.

"It's sentences like this that make Usenet worthwhile."
Kevin Cogliano

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 1:20:12 PM3/30/04
to
in <X_1ac.1878$Td4....@news.get2net.dk>,
Raven <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> enriched us with:

>
> "Belba Grubb from Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:cn9g601d6qn320r3o...@4ax.com...
>>
>> -- This is not really a vital point in the overall story, but I've
>> always been curious how Merry's ponies managed to get out of Bree
>> that night, with both the North and South Gates locked. ???
>
> Perhaps one of the gate-keepers was in league with Saruman's spies.
> Harry Goatleaf at the gate is not presented as a trustworthy person.

Does this imply that someone came from outside the town walls to conduct or
participate in the attack on the inn? Or did Harry (I agree that he's
probably working for the Ringwraiths - Aragorn, in the preceding chapter,
tells the Hobbits, "But their power is in terror and already some in Bree
are in their clutch. They will drive these wretches to some evil work:
Ferny, and some of the strangers, and, maybe, the gatekeeper too. They had
words with Harry at the West-gate on Monday. I was watching them. He was
white and shaking when they left him.") Aragorn's words seems to me to
imply that the attack was done by Ferny, Harry and their 'mates' among the
Southeners.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail address is t.forch(a)mail.dk

A good bookshop is just a genteel Black Hole that knows how to read.
- (Terry Pratchett, Guards! Guards!)

Elwë Singollo

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 1:32:05 PM3/30/04
to

"Shanahan" <pog...@redsuspenders.com> a écrit dans le message de news:
4069...@news.netacc.net...

> Elwė Singollo wrote:
> >>Belba Grubb from Stock asked:
> >> -- Is that squint-eyed southerner friend of Ferny truly one of
> >> Saruman's Orc-Men? Is he the first or only the latest of Saruman's
> >> spies in Bree?
> >
> > In the unfinished tales, it is written that many thought he had some
> > orc-blood flowing in his veins. It is probably not true. He was a very
> > violent and crual man, and that made people think he had orcish blood,
> > giving them a reason to kick him out of dunland. If he was 50% man
> > and 50% orc, he would probably not be regognized as a "man", and
> > Butterbur would not have accepted him in his inn.
>
> Is it your conclusion, Tolkien's, or his son's, that the man probably did
> not have orc-blood?

It is only my humble opinion. Thinking about it, he might have an old orc
ancestor or something like this, but I don't think he his half-man half-Orc,
because as I said, he is treated as a man by the others Southerners who were
in Bree.
To sum up, I would say that he is either
-a very mean and ugly man whose violent behaviour and physical apparence
make people think he is somehow related to the Orcs
or
-a man who has an Orc ancestor (for example his grand father or even
farther), and though he is generally taken as being a man, his manners and
his face reveal his true origin.

At the end, the difference between the two is quite small...

>
> I ask because I've always thought the man *was* part orc. I agree a
> half-orc would have trouble "passing" as human, but there's no reason this
> guy couldn't be third- or fourth-generation orc, and so only giving away
> his bloodline by the sallow skin and squinty eyes. Saruman had been
> breeding orcs and men for quite a while. He would very likely
> deliberately breed some of his stock to pass as human in order to act as
> spies.

Orc-Men seem to be suited for battle, but could Saruman trust one of these
to act as a spy ? Wouldn't a man be more effective with this task, requiring
contact with other men or hobbits?

>
> When I think about this in detail, it is extremely creepy...breeding dens,
> captives, rape, monstrous offspring <shudder>.

Heeewww, right!

Elwė


Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 1:47:09 PM3/30/04
to
in <tq2oj1-...@ID-7776.user.uni-berlin.de>,
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@gmx.de> enriched us with:

>
> Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@thisisfake.invalid> wrote:
>> in <cn9g601d6qn320r3o...@4ax.com>,
>> Belba Grubb from Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> enriched us with:
>
>> Another question about that blade: when it seems to Frodo that it
>> flickers red, is this then because of the spells on the blade as
>> seen from "the other side" or is it an effect similar to Sting's
>> glow at the presence of Orcs?
>
> In both cases, it's the presence of some sort of spell, so the
> difference is probably not so great.

Well, sort of ;-)
My question was to whether it was the spell that made itself seen (as with
Sting) or whether it was Frodo's 'otherworldly' sight that made him see it.

<snip>

>> In other words - do the others see this red flickering or not?
>
> It is not mentioned again, even as Merry attacks the Nazgul much
> later, So I'd say a good guess is that the others don't see it.

Which, as you say in the part I snipped, implies that it was Frodo's
ability to see the 'unseen world' that made him capable of seeing the
spells on the blade (possibly the presence of the Witch-king also made a
difference, "wound about with spells for the bane of Mordor").

<snip>

>> This, to my mind, raises another question. Who broke into the
>> Prancing Pony and slashed the Hobbits' beds? Was it Ringwraiths or
>> Ferny and cohorts?
>
> Good question. Any definitive clues in the text?

I came across Aragorn's words about Bill Ferny and Harry in the preceding
chapter where he says that "[the Ring-wraiths] will drive these wretches to
some evil work" - I think that that is the best I can come up with. This is
before they go to bed and seems to foreshadow the attack.

> And one point might be that if the Nazgul did brake in, they should
> have sensed the ring, and been drawn to it.

Right.
I think that clinches it ;-)

>> Let's see: 1 Yule would be December 31st,
>
> As Raven (IIRC) has said, Appendix D states that Mid-year's day is
> supposed to be summer solstice (which makes a lot of sense), so
> Shire January 9 is "more or less" our New Years Day.

Well, at least he forgot to take the 31 days in our October into account
;-)
Fortunately Odysseus has posted the right date (thanks for that, by the
way).

> With respect to the moon phases, I think the important thing is that
> they are *consistent*

Agreed!

> From all the text descriptions, one could first verify this and then
> probably figure out to some degree I a more exact guess at the exact
> phase. After that, one could to calculate if that would fit for some
> particular year around 1940 -- that might be better than doing it the
> other way round.

I believe that Mike Perry in his /Untangling Tolkien/ does exactly that -
he might choose to comment on this ...
The book description does mention the moon a few times:
http://www.inklingbooks.com/untangling/untangling.htm

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail address is t.forch(a)mail.dk

+++ Divide By Cucumber Error. Please Reinstall Universe And Reboot +++
- (Terry Pratchett, Hogfather)

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 2:02:59 PM3/30/04
to
in <4069...@news.netacc.net>,
Shanahan <pog...@redsuspenders.com> enriched us with:

>
> Elwë Singollo wrote:
>>
>> In the unfinished tales, it is written that many thought he had some
>> orc-blood flowing in his veins. It is probably not true.
[...]

>
> Is it your conclusion, Tolkien's, or his son's, that the man probably
> did not have orc-blood?
>
> I ask because I've always thought the man *was* part orc.

I think that there is little doubt of that - Merry and Aragorn discuss him
in
III, 9 'Flotsam and Jetsam':

"Most of them were ordinary men, rather tall and dark-haired,
and grim but not particularly evil-looking. But there were
some others that were horrible: man-high, but with
goblin-faces, sallow, leering, squint-eyed. Do you know, they
reminded me at once of that Southerner at Bree: only he was
not so obviously orc-like as most of these were.'
'I thought of him too,' said Aragorn. 'We had many of these
half-orcs to deal with at Helm's Deep. It seems plain now that
that Southerner was a spy of Saruman's; but whether he was
working with the Black Riders, or for Saruman alone, I do not
know.'"

> I agree a half-orc would have trouble "passing" as human, but there's
> no reason this guy couldn't be third- or fourth-generation orc, and so
> only giving away his bloodline by the sallow skin and squinty eyes.
> Saruman had been breeding orcs and men for quite a while. He would
> very likely deliberately breed some of his stock to pass as human in
> order to act as spies.

In the Tale of the years it says about 2953 that "Saruman withdraws to
Isengard, which he takes as his own, and fortifies it." While it is not
impossible, I doubt that he began breeding Orcs with Men before that, which
would imply perhaps three generations before 3018 when Frodo sees the
Southerner in Bree.

Aragorn's words in the quotation above implies, I think, rather that he was
indeed a half-orc who was chosen for this kind of mission because he looked
particularly little like an Orc (possibly one of the very few who could
pass as an ordinary man) - the more obvious half-orcs were kept at Isengard
and joined Saruman's armies.

> When I think about this in detail, it is extremely creepy...breeding
> dens, captives, rape, monstrous offspring <shudder>.

"Are they Men he has ruined, or has he blended the races of Orcs and Men?
That would be a black evil!" - Treebeard.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail address is t.forch(a)mail.dk

The idea of being *paid* to govern is terribly middle-class :-)
- Igenlode on AFPH

Treetop

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 2:36:30 PM3/30/04
to
>> When I think about this in detail, it is extremely
creepy...breeding
>> dens, captives, rape, monstrous offspring <shudder>.
>
> Heeewww, right!
>

To me this brings up a question. Assuming that Men and Orcs can be
bread together, when Orcs raid villages, so they rape the women there?
If so could it be possible that there are many Orc-Men all over Middle
Earth. Likewise does this mean that these Orc-Men would be evil when
born or would they be simple children of the parents who look a little
odd to the neighbors?


Matthew Woodcraft

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 2:35:31 PM3/30/04
to
Odysseus <odysseu...@yahoo-dot.ca> wrote:
>That was my initial thought, but I don't remember seeing mention of
>the '1942 method'. Is the source in _Letters_ (in which case I must
>have simply forgotten)?

No letter that I remember. History of Middle Earth VII, end of
chapter 17.

-M-

AC

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 2:44:31 PM3/30/04
to

I get the impression that there was some sorcery at work in getting these
half-breeds at all.

It's rather a difficult question, and in my mind is closely linked to the
nature of Orcs themselves. We know that Elves and Men are biologically the
same species, and it is their spiritual natures and the fates of their fëar
that make the difference. If Orcs are indeed corrupted Children of
Illuvatar (whether Elves or Men), perhaps it means they were altered too
much to permit natural reproduction, and sorcery and/or technology (we're
talking about Saruman here) was necessary to bridge the gap. Another
possibility is that these Orc-Men and Men-Orcs were sterile.

--
Aaron Clausen
mightym...@hotmail.com

Raven

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 5:30:27 PM3/30/04
to
"Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> skrev i en meddelelse
news:wTiac.12771$k4.2...@news1.nokia.com...

> Does this imply that someone came from outside the town walls to conduct
> or participate in the attack on the inn? Or did Harry (I agree that he's
> probably working for the Ringwraiths - Aragorn, in the preceding chapter,
> tells the Hobbits, "But their power is in terror and already some in Bree
> are in their clutch. They will drive these wretches to some evil work:
> Ferny, and some of the strangers, and, maybe, the gatekeeper too. They had
> words with Harry at the West-gate on Monday. I was watching them. He was
> white and shaking when they left him.") Aragorn's words seems to me to
> imply that the attack was done by Ferny, Harry and their 'mates' among the
> Southeners.

I can't easily imagine two Breelanders like Ferny and Goatleaf killing
hobbits in their sleep. Most people need some abominable training for
planning and doing something like that, I suppose, and two "naturals" in
such a small community would be statistically unlikely, if you follow. I
imagine stabbing the hobbits in their sleep may have been the intention of
the attackers, since in their frustration they slashed up the bolsters and
upturned the beds. Though for that matter it might have been the intention
of the attackers only to obtain the Ring, without a clear plan of what to do
with the hobbits, and it was fear of the Nazgûl at failing to bring the Ring
to them that brought the rage that resulted in the mayhem. Then they fell
back on plan B, which was to steal the horses.
But Saruman's half-orcs would be unlikely to have such qualms, as we see
in the Scouring of the Shire, where they are quite willing to kill hobbits.
It might have been Ferny and Goatleaf leading Saruman's defected spies to
the hobbits' bedroom, and leaving the actual killing to the actual heavies.
The Nazgûl putting their fear on Goatleaf, combined with his natural
inclination to be a ruffian, might suffice to make him agree on a plan that
he knew or guessed would result in dead hobbits. And we know that some
people are able to delude themselves, eg. "he asked for a gun to shoot his
wife with; I sold him the gun, but I didn't pull the trigger, so I have no
part in the death of his wife".
We know that Ferny in the Scouring of the Shire threatens to "break your
filthy little necks". If he meant that threat literally, and was of such an
inclination already the autumn before, he could well have been part of the
raiding party proper. Alternatively he could have been too soft, after all,
for such wetwork at the time, but hardened in evil during winter and in
exile from his home.
One alternative is that among some Breemen there was a racistic contempt
for hobbits, and that bad-hearted Breemen who would make a nuisance of
themselves among other Breemen would be willing to go further in the case of
hobbits.

Brân.


Öjevind Lång

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 5:57:43 PM3/30/04
to
"Belba Grubb from Stock" <ba...@dbtech.net>

[snip]

> -- We learn a lot about the Black Riders in this chapter. Strider
> tells us of them, and Frodo sees them as they are on the other side.
> And at Crickhollow we learn that fear and terror aren't their only
> weapons:

Indeed not. Among their weapons were surprise: surprise and fear. And an
almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.

Öjevind


Bruce Tucker

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 7:25:56 PM3/30/04
to
"Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote

> I can't easily imagine two Breelanders like Ferny and Goatleaf
killing
> hobbits in their sleep. Most people need some abominable training for
> planning and doing something like that, I suppose, and two "naturals"
in
> such a small community would be statistically unlikely, if you follow.

Agreed.

> I
> imagine stabbing the hobbits in their sleep may have been the
intention of
> the attackers, since in their frustration they slashed up the bolsters
and
> upturned the beds.

I don't think that follows, but I think killing the hobbits must have
been the intent for another reason which I'll explain below.

> Though for that matter it might have been the intention
> of the attackers only to obtain the Ring, without a clear plan of what
to do
> with the hobbits, and it was fear of the Nazgûl at failing to bring
the Ring
> to them that brought the rage that resulted in the mayhem. Then they
fell
> back on plan B, which was to steal the horses.

I think it must have been the Nazgul, and they must have meant to kill
the hobbits, for the following reasons. One, they can't have meant for
Men or half-orcs to have kidnapped the hobbits out of the Prancing Pony
right in the middle of town. They couldn't have possibly done so without
expecting to raise a commotion and possibly meet fierce resistance from
the other guests at the inn and the people of Bree. And this was too
important a mission to trust to the fighting prowess of a few ruffians.

Second, and more important, the Witch-king would never under any
circumstances trust anyone with his will not thoroughly enslaved to
Sauron to bring the Ring itself to him, nor would he be likely to reveal
its existence or location to Bill Ferny, Saruman's spy, or anyone else.
Indeed, all of the orcs we meet later have been told to capture hobbits
alive and to preserve and send on all of their personal effects but have
NOT been told what specifically to look for. The risk - indeed,
near-certainty - that Ferny or whoever's Ring-lust might prove greater
than his fear of the absent Nazgul and cause him to slip away into the
woods with his prize was too great - and then they're no better off than
they were before. So sending mortals either to murder or to rob the
hobbits was out of the question too.

Thus I think it must have been Nazgul themselves - and since they knew
exactly what they were looking for, and could be trusted with the Ring,
there was no reason for them not to simply kill the hobbits, seize the
Ring, and storm out of town before the terrified inhabitants could
react.

--
Bruce Tucker
disinte...@mindspring.com


the softrat

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 8:33:53 PM3/30/04
to
On Tue, 30 Mar 2004 13:36:30 -0600, "Treetop" <tre...@netfront.net>
wrote:
>
>Assuming that Men and Orcs can be bread together, ...

If they are, it's Wonder Bread.

the softrat
"LotR: Eleven Oscars! Right up there with _Titanic_!"
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--

'Tis an ill wind that blows no minds.

Belba Grubb from Stock

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 9:13:04 PM3/30/04
to
On Tue, 30 Mar 2004 01:06:43 +0200, "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

>> I did adjust for the Shire calendar, but really with
>> the extra days added in for a particular year, October 4 to the
>> hobbits is still October 4 to us, no?
> Not quite. If you look into Appendix D, you will find that Tolkien
>writes that "... and our New Year's Day corresponded more or less to the
>Shire January 9". You have to subtract nine days, if going by this comment.
>The 4. of October by the Shire-reckoning corresponds to the 25. of September
>by ours, more or less.
> If, on the 4. of October 1942 the Moon was a waning crescent, it would
>have been near full nine days earlier, though I don't know how thin the
>waning crescent was that was referred to in your data from that web site.
>If the Moon was slightly less than half, then nine days earlier it would
>have been gibbous and waxing. If it was near new, then nine days earlier it
>would have been gibbous and waning, after full. The leeway added by
>Tolkien's "more or less" will absorb a few days' worth of additional
>discrepancy.

31% of the Moon's crescent was illuminated on October 4, per this
site.

That system has always confused me; I knew I'd overlooked something.

(she looks at Appendix D)

OK, he is saying, that if the hobbit's Mid-Year Day that year
corresponded "as nearly as possible" to the summer solstice (and I
haven't the time or energy tonight to try to figure that out), the
date on our calendar would have been "some ten days" behind that of
the Shire Reckoning, which would have meant this date would be "more
or less" September 24. In 1942, if this site is correct (and that is
something to consider, that perhaps it's inaccurate -- just because
it's online and from an authoritative source doesn't guarantee its
accuracy or how much error is involved in its calculations, database,
etc; separate corroboration from somewhere, ideally a calendar from
1942 that shows the four main phases of the moon, would be nice) --
anyway, September 24, 1942, would have been the night of the full
moon. It would have risen at 6:16 p.m. and been there all night, not
just during the early hours.

Well, I fiddled with different dates on the Sun and Moon Data site and
like to think that the actual date in our calendar system would have
been some time between September 15 (when the Moon set just before 9
p.m. and was 26% illuminated) and September 20 (when it set at 1:40
a.m., which is a bit late to be included in the early evening hours,
and was 80% illuminated).

He does give us quite a bit of leeway, doesn't he? Maybe "some ten
days" meant "somewhere between 10 and 20 days." This might be
something to keep an eye on when there is mention of the moon, to see
if it's a consistent 20 days "more or less" throughout.

Barb

Belba Grubb from Stock

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 9:25:43 PM3/30/04
to
On 30 Mar 2004 00:49:31 +0100 (BST), Matthew Woodcraft
<matt...@chiark.greenend.org.uk> wrote:

THAT'S IT!!!!

I was going by his comment in his last interview:

"The moons I think finally were the moons and sunset worked
out according to what they were in this part of the world in
1942 actually."

and erroneously assumed 1942 throughout. Of course it would be
1941-42. Ran September 24, 1941, (nine days previously, per Raven's
note above) through the Sun and Moon Data site: Waxing crescent with
15% of the visible disk illuminated, moonset at 7:58 p.m., Oxford
time.

JRRT is infallible. Unfortunately, the same cannot be said for this
reader (BG).

Thank you very much!!

Barb

Belba Grubb from Stock

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 9:28:06 PM3/30/04
to
On Tue, 30 Mar 2004 01:06:43 +0200, "Raven"
<jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote:

>> I did adjust for the Shire calendar, but really with
>> the extra days added in for a particular year, October 4 to the
>> hobbits is still October 4 to us, no?
> Not quite. If you look into Appendix D, you will find that Tolkien
>writes that "... and our New Year's Day corresponded more or less to the
>Shire January 9". You have to subtract nine days, if going by this comment.
>The 4. of October by the Shire-reckoning corresponds to the 25. of September
>by ours, more or less.
> If, on the 4. of October 1942 the Moon was a waning crescent, it would
>have been near full nine days earlier, though I don't know how thin the
>waning crescent was that was referred to in your data from that web site.
>If the Moon was slightly less than half, then nine days earlier it would
>have been gibbous and waxing. If it was near new, then nine days earlier it
>would have been gibbous and waning, after full. The leeway added by
>Tolkien's "more or less" will absorb a few days' worth of additional
>discrepancy.

PS: Please disregard my earlier reply on this. Matthew was right --
it should have been calculated for 1941 (see below).

Barb

Belba Grubb from Stock

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 9:45:31 PM3/30/04
to
On Mon, 29 Mar 2004 15:55:27 +0100, Jamie Armstrong
<j.d.ar...@durham.ac.uk> wrote:

>Belba Grubb from Stock wrote:
>> CHAPTER OF THE WEEK LOTR BK1 CH11: A KNIFE IN THE DARK
>
><snip>
>

>> It's interesting, too, that just Frodo's
>> drawing his barrow blade is enough to stop two of the Nazgul, though
>> not the Witch-king, even in such a lopsided situation with all the

>> advantages to the ghouls. Any more thoughts on the nature and


>> dangers, strengths and weaknesses of these very complicated beings?
>>

>I've never seen the need to assume that the Nazgul stop *because* Frodo
>draws his sword: I don't think they have any need to be afraid of these
>four halflings and a raggedy wanderer, given that they *are* The Nazgul!
>I think this is backed up by the fact that while two of the advancing
>wraiths stopped, the Witch King had no hesitation at all, and instead
>"...sprang forwards and bore down on Frodo". It's merely a coincidence,
>IMO: they intended to do this all along. Otherwise you are assuming a
>cause and effect.

I do think it was cause and effect. What appeared to Frodo, who was
totally ignorant of such things, as a red flicker on his blade may
have had a much more powerful and threatening meaning to the Nazgul,
especially since another of the barrow blades, at least for the
Witch-king, would cleave undead flesh and break the spell binding his
sinews to his will. What would work on the strongest of the Nazgul
would certainly work on the other eight, too.

In light of Gandalf's comment to Frodo in Rivendell that with the Ring
on he was partly in their world and could have been carried off, it
wasn't likely that the two Nazgul stopped intentionally during the
onrush. It would take at least three of them for the attack to
succeed because the victim would struggle and also a powerful Dunedan
was present and would have to be dealt with. The plan likely was that
one ghoul would grab Frodo, once he had the Ring on and was holdable,
while the Witch-king's stabbed him in the heart, and in the meantime
the third would keep Strider from interfering.

That there were five of them, and the other two stayed up at the top
of the dell, showed that they didn't expect to have any problems at
all from these mortals. They didn't know Frodo had a blade of
Westernesse on him, and that plus his use of the name of Elbereth and
his constant movement so the Witch-king only got his shoulder, were
what foiled their plan. Yay, Frodo!

Barb

Flame of the West

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 11:13:33 PM3/30/04
to
"Öjevind Lång" <dnivej...@swipnet.se> wrote in message news:

> > And at Crickhollow we learn that fear and terror aren't their only
> > weapons:
>
> Indeed not. Among their weapons were surprise: surprise and fear. And an
> almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.

You forgot ruthless efficiency. They also have a nice black uniform.


-- FotW

Reality is for those who cannot cope with Middle-earth.

Shanahan

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 11:18:50 PM3/30/04
to
AC wrote:
>> Treetop <tre...@netfront.net> wrote:

>>>>Shanahan wrote:
>>>> When I think about this in detail, it is extremely
>>>> creepy...breeding
>>>> dens, captives, rape, monstrous offspring <shudder>.
>>>
>>> Heeewww, right!
>>>
>>
>> To me this brings up a question. Assuming that Men and Orcs can be
>> bread together, when Orcs raid villages, so they rape the women
>> there? If so could it be possible that there are many Orc-Men all
>> over Middle Earth. Likewise does this mean that these Orc-Men would
>> be evil when born or would they be simple children of the parents
>> who look a little odd to the neighbors?
>
> I get the impression that there was some sorcery at work in getting
> these half-breeds at all.
>
> It's rather a difficult question, and in my mind is closely linked to
> the nature of Orcs themselves. We know that Elves and Men are
> biologically the same species, and it is their spiritual natures and
> the fates of their fëar that make the difference. If Orcs are indeed
> corrupted Children of Illuvatar (whether Elves or Men), perhaps it
> means they were altered too much to permit natural reproduction, and
> sorcery and/or technology (we're talking about Saruman here) was
> necessary to bridge the gap.

Tolkien does say that the Orcs reproduced their kind according to the
manner of the Children of Iluvatar, so for the "pure-bred" Orc, at least,
normal mating and birth would occur. I see no reason that this could not
be extended to matings with Men and Elves, since Orcs were created from
Elves, implying a close-enough relation to produce fertile offspring.
Since Men and Elves can also produce fertile offspring, I would guess that
Orcs and Men can as well.

However, there's also Sam's remark about "no Orc that was ever spawned",
which is suggestive. Although I doubt Sam was an expert on Orc
reproduction, and this was probably a colloquialism.

I like the idea that there may be half-Orc products of rape around. But
given the nature of human beings, any such offspring would likely be
disposed of at birth, if not before.

I wonder if human soldiers would be raping Orc women...

- Ciaran S.
_________________________________
Change for the machines.
-p.cadigan

Shanahan

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 11:29:19 PM3/30/04
to
Elwë Singollo wrote:
> "Shanahan" <pog...@redsuspenders.com> a écrit dans le message de news:
> 4069...@news.netacc.net...
>> Elwë Singollo wrote:
>>>> Belba Grubb from Stock asked:
>>>> -- Is that squint-eyed southerner friend of Ferny truly one of
>>>> Saruman's Orc-Men? Is he the first or only the latest of Saruman's
>>>> spies in Bree?
>>>
>>> In the unfinished tales, it is written that many thought he had some
>>> orc-blood flowing in his veins. It is probably not true. He was a
>>> very violent and crual man, and that made people think he had
>>> orcish blood, giving them a reason to kick him out of dunland. If
>>> he was 50% man and 50% orc, he would probably not be regognized as
>>> a "man", and Butterbur would not have accepted him in his inn.
>>
>> Is it your conclusion, Tolkien's, or his son's, that the man
>> probably did not have orc-blood?
>
> It is only my humble opinion. Thinking about it, he might have an old
> orc ancestor or something like this, but I don't think he is

> half-man half-Orc, because as I said, he is treated as a man by the
> others Southerners who were in Bree.
> To sum up, I would say that he is either
> -a very mean and ugly man whose violent behaviour and physical
> apparence make people think he is somehow related to the Orcs
> or
> -a man who has an Orc ancestor (for example his grand father or even
> farther), and though he is generally taken as being a man, his
> manners and his face reveal his true origin.
>
> At the end, the difference between the two is quite small...

Agreed.

>> I ask because I've always thought the man *was* part orc. I agree a
>> half-orc would have trouble "passing" as human, but there's no
>> reason this guy couldn't be third- or fourth-generation orc, and so
>> only giving away his bloodline by the sallow skin and squinty eyes.
>> Saruman had been breeding orcs and men for quite a while. He would
>> very likely deliberately breed some of his stock to pass as human in
>> order to act as spies.
> Orc-Men seem to be suited for battle, but could Saruman trust one of
> these to act as a spy ? Wouldn't a man be more effective with this
> task, requiring contact with other men or hobbits?

Hmm, good question...I think a part-orc would be more biddable, more
trustworthy, than a Mannish spy. Orcs seem, in part, to have been bred so
that their wills are easily dominated by the dark powers. Although we
hear some dissatisfaction with this state of affairs by Shagrat and
Gorbag, still the orcs always answer the call and obey the orders when the
eeeevill guys exert their will.

On the other hand, your point of view is supported in 'The Quest for
Erebor' I think, where most of Saruman's spies in Eriador are described as
Men/Dunlendings.

Shanahan

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 11:56:25 PM3/30/04
to
Bruce Tucker wrote:
>> "Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote
>> I can't easily imagine two Breelanders like Ferny and Goatleaf
>> killing hobbits in their sleep. Most people need some abominable
>> training for planning and doing something like that, I suppose, and
>> two "naturals" in such a small community would be statistically
>> unlikely, if you follow.

> Second, and more important, the Witch-king would never under any


> circumstances trust anyone with his will not thoroughly enslaved to
> Sauron to bring the Ring itself to him, nor would he be likely to
> reveal its existence or location to Bill Ferny, Saruman's spy, or
> anyone else. Indeed, all of the orcs we meet later have been told to
> capture hobbits alive and to preserve and send on all of their
> personal effects but have NOT been told what specifically to look
> for. The risk - indeed, near-certainty - that Ferny or whoever's
> Ring-lust might prove greater than his fear of the absent Nazgul and
> cause him to slip away into the woods with his prize was too great -
> and then they're no better off than they were before. So sending
> mortals either to murder or to rob the hobbits was out of the
> question too.
>
> Thus I think it must have been Nazgul themselves - and since they knew
> exactly what they were looking for, and could be trusted with the
> Ring, there was no reason for them not to simply kill the hobbits,
> seize the Ring, and storm out of town before the terrified
> inhabitants could react.

Aragorn's words seem to contradict this, to me: "You may escape from
Bree...They will come on you in the wild, in some dark place where there
is no help...No, I think they will not [attack the inn]. They are not all
here yet. And in any case that is not their way. In dark and loneliness
they are strongest; they will not openly attack a house where there are
lights and many people."

Elriel

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 2:53:11 AM3/31/04
to
Belba Grubb from Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> wrote in message news:<cn9g601d6qn320r3o...@4ax.com>...

> CHAPTER OF THE WEEK LOTR BK1 CH11: A KNIFE IN THE DARK
>
> Strider does find a stone set as if for a marker with a mysterious
> inscription on it [...]

I found that some editions actually have a little drawing of the
inscription, while other do not. In particular I have an old
harper-collins paperback (the one with Gandalf on the cover) and it
does have the drawing, and a houghton-miffin
super-deluxe-hardcover-boxed-edition which does not have it. I wonder
why...

AC

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 10:03:51 AM3/31/04
to
On Tue, 30 Mar 2004 23:18:50 -0500,
Shanahan <pog...@redsuspenders.com> wrote:
>
> Tolkien does say that the Orcs reproduced their kind according to the
> manner of the Children of Iluvatar, so for the "pure-bred" Orc, at least,
> normal mating and birth would occur. I see no reason that this could not
> be extended to matings with Men and Elves, since Orcs were created from
> Elves, implying a close-enough relation to produce fertile offspring.
> Since Men and Elves can also produce fertile offspring, I would guess that
> Orcs and Men can as well.

Being closely related doesn't imply that fertile viable young can be
naturally produced. Chimps reproduce exactly the same way we do, but I'll
warrant even with invitro fertilization you couldn't produce offspring.

--
Aaron Clausen
mightym...@hotmail.com

Raven

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 2:18:18 PM3/31/04
to
"Bruce Tucker" <disinte...@mindspring.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:c4d3b1$lk2$1...@mailgate2.lexis-nexis.com...

> The risk - indeed, near-certainty - that Ferny or whoever's Ring-
> lust might prove greater than his fear of the absent Nazgul and
> cause him to slip away into the woods with his prize was too
> great - and then they're no better off than they were before. So
> sending mortals either to murder or to rob the hobbits was out
> of the question too.

This does not follow. To the Nazgûl, the Ring in the hands of someone
like Harry Goatleaf, even if he slipped the leash of terror that they had
put on him, would be more profitable than the Ring remaining in Frodo's
possession. Goatleaf would probably try to cut and run, or else hide in his
own house, or perhaps even begin wielding it without knowing his peril. If
he cut and ran, he would be far more easily trailed by the Nazgûl than Frodo
under the guidance of a Ranger - even if they didn't know that Strider was
to guide them, they must have known that Frodo was an Elf-friend, and
therefore they must have had more respect for his prowess than for that of
Harry Goatleaf, or one of Saruman's old spies. If he hid in his own house,
it could be more easily raided by the Nazgûl than the Inn could have been.
Goatleaf would have been far less experienced as a Ring-holder than the
Nazgûl must have guessed Frodo to be.
Of course, it could have been only Saruman's spies taking part in the
actual break-in, and the Nazgûl might have put such a terror upon them that
they would have resisted the lure of the Ring for that reason had they
acquired it, and handed it over to the Nazgûl.
We know that Sauron had his orcs too looking for the Ring. The ones on
Mordor's borders at least had orders of what to do with any items, rings
specifically included, found on a prisoner - send them straight to
Barad-dûr. Grishnákh knew about the Ring, though we know that he wanted it
for himself. It may therefore be assumed that although Sauron could trust
only the Nazgûl to actually bring it to him, he must have assumed that
anyone evil getting hold of it would somehow be easier to get it from than
from someone good having it. Presumably if someone like Grishnákh, or one
of Saruman's spies, had gotten hold of it, he would have started wielding
it. Without sufficient time to master it to sufficient degree, the new
mini-Ringlord would have been unable to withhold it from the Nazgûl -
remember that the Witch-king was quite happy to stab Frodo even when Frodo
was wearing the Ring.

Rabe.


Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 3:06:02 PM3/31/04
to
in <c4d3b1$lk2$1...@mailgate2.lexis-nexis.com>,
Bruce Tucker <disinte...@mindspring.com> enriched us with:

>
> "Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote
>>
>> I can't easily imagine two Breelanders like Ferny and Goatleaf
>> killing hobbits in their sleep. Most people need some abominable
>> training for planning and doing something like that, I suppose, and
>> two "naturals" in such a small community would be statistically
>> unlikely, if you follow.
>
> Agreed.

Under normal circumstances, I would agree with this, but we are here
speaking of people forced to act under the influence of the Nazgûl - the
terror of whom would, IMO, have been greater than the natural terror people
would feel at killing others in their sleep.

Aragorn, IMO, assesses the situation correctly when he says that "they will
drive these wretches to some evil work." He knew that the fear of the
Nazgûl would be enough to drive these petty, evil in a small way, wretches
to anything, including killing Hobbits in their sleep.

<snip>

> They couldn't have possibly done so without expecting to raise a
> commotion and possibly meet fierce resistance from the other guests
> at the inn and the people of Bree.

That would have been expectable no matter how or by who the inn was
attacked. The Ringwraiths themselves would create even more commotion, and
they did know that a ranger was staying at the inn. If the idea was to
avoid commotion it was better to use some local thugs.

> And this was too important a mission to trust to the fighting prowess
> of a few ruffians.

I don't think they expected any fighting, no matter who did the job.

> Second, and more important, the Witch-king would never under any
> circumstances trust anyone with his will not thoroughly enslaved to
> Sauron to bring the Ring itself to him,

Who says they weren't?
Aragorn's words suggest that he believed that they were indeed completely
under the domination of the Nazgûl, and could be driven to 'evil work' by
them. I'd say that the terror of the Nazgûl at this point made Ferny,
Goatleaf and the southerner at least as dependable in carrying out orders
as any Orc would have been.

> nor would he be likely to reveal its existence or location to Bill
> Ferny, Saruman's spy, or anyone else.

"But there was one swarthy Bree-lander, who stood looking at
them with a knowing and half-mockig expression that made them
feel very uncomfortable. Presently he slipped out of the door,
followed by the squint-eyed southerner [...]"

I don't think that Ferny knew about the Ring specifically, but he
definitely knew something, and telling him to bring all the Hobbit's
possessions wouldn't, IMO, incur much of a risk for the Witch-king.

> Indeed, all of the orcs we meet later have been told to
> capture hobbits alive and to preserve and send on all of their
> personal effects but have NOT been told what specifically to look
> for.

Precisely - and the same orders would have been given to Ferny and cohorts,
who, IMO, could be trusted at least as well as the Orcs with this kind of
instructions.

Everything Aragorn tells the Hobbits about the Nazgûl and their power over
their human (or half-orc) allies speaks against the idea that the Nazgûl
did the attack themselves, including (and in particular) this passage:

" 'What will happen?' said Merry. 'Will they attack the inn?'
'No, I think not,' said Strider. 'They are not all here yet.


And in any case that is not their way. In dark and loneliness
they are strongest; they will not openly attack a house where

there are lights and many people - not until they are
desperate, not while all the long leagues of Eriador still lie
before us. But their power is in terror, and already some in


Bree are in their clutch."

--


Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail address is t.forch(a)mail.dk

Power tends to corrupt, and absolute power corrupts absolutely. Great men
are almost always bad men.
- Lord Acton, in a letter to Bishop Mandell Creighton, 1887.

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 3:06:15 PM3/31/04
to
in <56bk60lrj196h5pot...@4ax.com>,
Belba Grubb from Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> enriched us with:

>
> On Mon, 29 Mar 2004 15:55:27 +0100, Jamie Armstrong
> <j.d.ar...@durham.ac.uk> wrote:
>>

<snip>

>> I've never seen the need to assume that the Nazgul stop *because*
>> Frodo draws his sword:

[...]


>
> I do think it was cause and effect.

[...]

I agree - and not only for the reasons you give, but also because I think
the text is written as to suggest a causal connection:

"Desparate, he drew his sword, and it seemed to him that it
flickered red, as if it was a firebrand. Two of the figures
halted."

They "halted" which, to me, suggests hesitation (that is also the
connotation given by my dictionary, which, as foreign dictionaries tend to,
usually is a bit old-fashioned).

> especially since another of the barrow blades, at least for the
> Witch-king, would cleave undead flesh and break the spell binding his
> sinews to his will.

And we know from letter #210 that Sam's barrow blade would have had much
the same result as when Merry stabbed the Witch-king at the Field of
Pelennor.

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid e-mail address is t.forch(a)mail.dk

Gravity is a habit that is hard to shake off.
- (Terry Pratchett, Small Gods)

Bruce Tucker

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 3:57:38 PM3/31/04
to
"Shanahan" <pog...@redsuspenders.com> wrote

> Aragorn's words seem to contradict this, to me: "You may escape from
> Bree...They will come on you in the wild, in some dark place where
there
> is no help...No, I think they will not [attack the inn]. They are not
all
> here yet. And in any case that is not their way."

True... but he could have simply been wrong. ;-)

Seriously, he was occasionally wrong about other things - like the
hardiness of hobbits. I don't think the Nazgul were a subject of
particular expertise for him - if he had ever faced them before, I don't
think we're told of it. And certainly there was no precedent in the
tales he would have heard for their behavior when the Ring was within
their grasp.

More in other replies...

--
Bruce Tucker
disinte...@mindspring.com


Bruce Tucker

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 4:10:50 PM3/31/04
to
"Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote

> "Bruce Tucker" <disinte...@mindspring.com> skrev i en meddelelse
> news:c4d3b1$lk2$1...@mailgate2.lexis-nexis.com...
>
> > The risk - indeed, near-certainty - that Ferny or whoever's Ring-
> > lust might prove greater than his fear of the absent Nazgul and
> > cause him to slip away into the woods with his prize was too
> > great - and then they're no better off than they were before. So
> > sending mortals either to murder or to rob the hobbits was out
> > of the question too.
>
> This does not follow. To the Nazgûl, the Ring in the hands of
someone
> like Harry Goatleaf, even if he slipped the leash of terror that they
had
> put on him, would be more profitable than the Ring remaining in
Frodo's
> possession.

We know that, certainly, but do they?

> Goatleaf would probably try to cut and run, or else hide in his
> own house, or perhaps even begin wielding it without knowing his
peril. If
> he cut and ran, he would be far more easily trailed by the Nazgûl than
Frodo
> under the guidance of a Ranger - even if they didn't know that Strider
was
> to guide them, they must have known that Frodo was an Elf-friend, and
> therefore they must have had more respect for his prowess than for
that of
> Harry Goatleaf, or one of Saruman's old spies.

I'm not sure they'd have any such ideas about Frodo. I don't think they
had any idea about Strider, and they don't seemeven to have known
Frodo's full name, so I doubt they knew much about him. Saruman
certainly knew he and Bilbo were Elf-friends in league with Gandalf, but
Saruman also denied all knowledge of the matter to the Nazgul, and from
what I remember Wormtongue didn't give a lot of details when he met the
Witch-king. If the Nazgul were aware of gandalf's involvement at all,
they may have simply thought Frodo was an unwitting dupe he had picked
out because he was stupid and easily controlled and could be counted on
to keep the Ricg without guessing or trying to use its true potential
(after all, that's how Saruman saw it).

> Of course, it could have been only Saruman's spies taking part in
the
> actual break-in, and the Nazgûl might have put such a terror upon them
that
> they would have resisted the lure of the Ring for that reason had they
> acquired it, and handed it over to the Nazgûl.

That would be unprecedented in the history of the Ring. I think it would
require that they had no idea at all what it was, and little if any
contact with it (preferably not seeing it or touching it), and bringing
it as part of the overall spoils, as Troels suggested. But even then it
seems risky.

> We know that Sauron had his orcs too looking for the Ring. The
ones on
> Mordor's borders at least had orders of what to do with any items,
rings
> specifically included, found on a prisoner - send them straight to
> Barad-dûr. Grishnákh knew about the Ring, though we know that he
wanted it
> for himself. It may therefore be assumed that although Sauron could
trust
> only the Nazgûl to actually bring it to him, he must have assumed that
> anyone evil getting hold of it would somehow be easier to get it from
than
> from someone good having it. Presumably if someone like Grishnákh, or
one
> of Saruman's spies, had gotten hold of it, he would have started
wielding
> it. Without sufficient time to master it to sufficient degree, the
new
> mini-Ringlord would have been unable to withhold it from the Nazgûl -
> remember that the Witch-king was quite happy to stab Frodo even when
Frodo
> was wearing the Ring.

I hadn't thought about that enough until now, plainly. The funny thing
we see what happens each time orcs capture hobbits, even without the
Ring being present - they come to blows resulting in the escape of the
prisoners. One can imagine that the Ring would only exacerbate such
tendencies. Either Sauron was not fully aware of the effect his creation
had on lesser beings (after all, he never intended to lose it in the
first place, so perhaps he never considered the problem until after it
was gone, and then it was unavailable for study) or his thinking was
that the attempt to claim and use it would be instantly detected by both
himself and the Nazgul and they could, as you say, easily seize it from
the inexperienced claimant.

But Goatleaf and Ferny weren't orcs, and they had no idea of the Ring's
true nature. They probably would have just tried to murder one another,
with the winner pilfering it and running like Smeagol so many years
before.

More in response to Troels.

--
Bruce Tucker
disinte...@mindspring.com


Öjevind Lång

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 4:25:08 PM3/31/04
to
"Pete Gray" <ne...@redbadge.fsnet.co.uk> wrote:

[snip]

> Well the Forsaken Inn was a _day's journey east of Bree_ -- hardly
> close enough to be competition. And of course, only on the east-west

I bet it was a pretty fortified place, with several well-armed, muscular
employees.

Öjevind


Bruce Tucker

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 4:28:30 PM3/31/04
to
"Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote

> in <c4d3b1$lk2$1...@mailgate2.lexis-nexis.com>,
> Bruce Tucker <disinte...@mindspring.com> enriched us with:
>
> Under normal circumstances, I would agree with this, but we are here
> speaking of people forced to act under the influence of the Nazgûl -
the
> terror of whom would, IMO, have been greater than the natural terror
people
> would feel at killing others in their sleep.

That terror doesn't seem to have lasted though - when Ferny and the
Southerner are seen later, they seem smug, not terrified.

> Aragorn, IMO, assesses the situation correctly when he says that "they
will
> drive these wretches to some evil work." He knew that the fear of the
> Nazgûl would be enough to drive these petty, evil in a small way,
wretches
> to anything, including killing Hobbits in their sleep.

Maybe, but I'd think they'd have to work up to it. I suppose it could be
that the terror was more recent on them at the time of the attack, and
had faded by the next day.

> > They couldn't have possibly done so without expecting to raise a
> > commotion and possibly meet fierce resistance from the other guests
> > at the inn and the people of Bree.
>
> That would have been expectable no matter how or by who the inn was
> attacked. The Ringwraiths themselves would create even more commotion,
and
> they did know that a ranger was staying at the inn. If the idea was to
> avoid commotion it was better to use some local thugs.

It's not to avoid commotion, it's to avoid the uncertainty of a fight
which their ruffians might lose. The Nazgul wouldn't get a fight, except
from Strider, whom they didn't know about. The commotion they caused
would be people fleeing from them in abject terror. I can't see Bree
putting up resistance to them.

> > Second, and more important, the Witch-king would never under any
> > circumstances trust anyone with his will not thoroughly enslaved to
> > Sauron to bring the Ring itself to him,
>
> Who says they weren't?
>
> Aragorn's words suggest that he believed that they were indeed
completely
> under the domination of the Nazgûl, and could be driven to 'evil work'
by
> them. I'd say that the terror of the Nazgûl at this point made Ferny,
> Goatleaf and the southerner at least as dependable in carrying out
orders
> as any Orc would have been.

Dependable enough to murder is one thing, dependable enough to trust
with the Ring is another. As it turns out, orcs were a poor choice for
the latter as well, since every time they even thought they might have
it, without even knowing exactly what it was they might have, they took
to murdering each other and trying to loot the captives on the sly.

> > Indeed, all of the orcs we meet later have been told to
> > capture hobbits alive and to preserve and send on all of their
> > personal effects but have NOT been told what specifically to look
> > for.
>
> Precisely - and the same orders would have been given to Ferny and
cohorts,
> who, IMO, could be trusted at least as well as the Orcs with this kind
of
> instructions.

True. That is a strong argument in favor of the proposition - although
that could just show that Sauron (foolishly) trusted his orcs more than
the Witch-king did. ;-)

And I'm not sure Ferny & company could be trusted as well as orcs.
Terror of the Nazgul or no, while orcs griped and fought with each
other, they always seemed to accept the inevitability of obedience to
the Dark Lord's authority (although Saruman's orcs might dispute the
identity of the proper holder of that title). Bandits from Eriador
press-ganged into Mordor's service simply haven't had this obedience
bred into them over a hundred generations.

> Everything Aragorn tells the Hobbits about the Nazgûl and their power
over
> their human (or half-orc) allies speaks against the idea that the
Nazgûl
> did the attack themselves, including (and in particular) this passage:
>
> " 'What will happen?' said Merry. 'Will they attack the inn?'
> 'No, I think not,' said Strider. 'They are not all here yet.
> And in any case that is not their way. In dark and loneliness
> they are strongest; they will not openly attack a house where
> there are lights and many people - not until they are
> desperate, not while all the long leagues of Eriador still lie
> before us. But their power is in terror, and already some in
> Bree are in their clutch."

Well, the three of you have convinced me it's a possibility. But I still
have a tough time swallowing the proposition that the Witch-king trusted
any mortal, especially a freelance thug, to bring the Ring to him.

--
Bruce Tucker
disinte...@mindspring.com


Öjevind Lång

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 4:30:15 PM3/31/04
to
"Flame of the West" wrote:

> "Öjevind Lång" <dnivej...@swipnet.se> wrote in message news:
>
> > > And at Crickhollow we learn that fear and terror aren't their only
> > > weapons:
> >
> > Indeed not. Among their weapons were surprise: surprise and fear. And an
> > almost fanatical devotion to the Pope.
>
> You forgot ruthless efficiency. They also have a nice black uniform.

Many and horrible were their instruments of torture: the rack. The tea. The
comfy chair. I bet Aragorn had been sitting in it, and that's why he went
pale when he spoke of them.

Öjevind


Raven

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 5:39:09 PM3/31/04
to
"Bruce Tucker" <disinte...@mindspring.com> skrev i en meddelelse
news:c4fc9d$175$1...@mailgate2.lexis-nexis.com...

> "Raven" <jonlennar...@damn.get2net.that.dk.spam> wrote

> > This does not follow. To the Nazgûl, the Ring in the hands of
> > someone like Harry Goatleaf, even if he slipped the leash of
> > terror that they had put on him, would be more profitable than
> > the Ring remaining in Frodo's possession.

> We know that, certainly, but do they?

They knew or could guess that Frodo had had the Ring for many years.
*We* know that Frodo scarcely used it in all that time, but for all they
knew he may have trained himself with it, and claimed it for his own as
Gollum had done. It is what Sauron would have done: use it, and therefore
what they would guess that anybody would have done.
But if Goatleaf had managed to take it from Frodo, he would have been a
perfect novice as a Ring-owner. This alone would have made him easier to
rob of it. Until the confrontation at Weathertop they may even have been
afraid that Frodo might possibly be able to use the Ring against them, to
cow them - as Tolkien hinted in a letter that Frodo *would* have been
marginally able to, had there been a confrontation between him and them on
Mount Doom.

> > Goatleaf would probably try to cut and run, or else hide in his
> > own house, or perhaps even begin wielding it without knowing his
> > peril. If he cut and ran, he would be far more easily trailed by
> > the Nazgûl than Frodo under the guidance of a Ranger - even if
> > they didn't know that Strider was to guide them, they must have
> > known that Frodo was an Elf-friend, and therefore they must
> > have had more respect for his prowess than for that of
> > Harry Goatleaf, or one of Saruman's old spies.

> I'm not sure they'd have any such ideas about Frodo. I don't think they
> had any idea about Strider, and they don't seemeven to have known
> Frodo's full name, so I doubt they knew much about him. Saruman
> certainly knew he and Bilbo were Elf-friends in league with Gandalf, but
> Saruman also denied all knowledge of the matter to the Nazgul, and from
> what I remember Wormtongue didn't give a lot of details when he met the
> Witch-king. If the Nazgul were aware of gandalf's involvement at all,
> they may have simply thought Frodo was an unwitting dupe he had picked
> out because he was stupid and easily controlled and could be counted on
> to keep the Ricg without guessing or trying to use its true potential
> (after all, that's how Saruman saw it).

Oh, they knew well enough that Frodo was an Elf-friend. It was how he
had escaped one of them, Khamul as we learn in UT, in the Woody End: Gildor
and his company had turned up just in time to prevent one of the Nazgûl from
discovering the Ringbearer, and they had protected him until the next
morning, permitting him and his companions to escape the pursuit for that
time. Of course it may be that the Nazgûl didn't know that it was actually
Baggins with the Ring who had walked with the Elves and descended the steep
slope that the Black Rider couldn't bring his horse down. But I would
presume that the one who slipped off his horse and started sniffing his way
towards them was lured by the Ring, and knew or guessed how close he had
been.
As for Strider, they probably knew that the Ringbearer was a friend (or
slave) of Gandalf's, and that Gandalf had connections with the Rangers.
They knew that at least one Ranger was at the Prancing Pony, and they may
have received report from the spies in the inn that the hobbit who had
vanished on the table had also been conversing with Strider, who was well
known to Ferny and Goatleaf. They had fought against Rangers a short time
before; they knew what Rangers were, and probably knew or guessed their
ancestry.

Korb.


Emma Pease

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 8:14:24 PM3/31/04
to
In article <xi8ac.12696$k4.2...@news1.nokia.com>, Troels Forchhammer wrote:
> in <cn9g601d6qn320r3o...@4ax.com>,

> Belba Grubb from Stock <ba...@dbtech.net> enriched us with:
>>
>> CHAPTER OF THE WEEK LOTR BK1 CH11: A KNIFE IN THE DARK
>
><snip>

>
>> -- What are everybody's thoughts on "The Forsaken Inn"? What's it
>> like, who goes there, does it siphon off any of "The Pony's" traffic,
>> and ...
>
> I thought it was indeed forsaken - a mere ruin from earlier days when the
> land was under the Kings.

I think it was an active inn on or shortly beyond the easternmost edge
of Breeland. Remember the East/West road was the active road with
dwarves moving back and forth on it from the Blue Mountains to the
Lonely Mountain and beyond (Bilbo's early trip was during a time when,
I suspect, the traffic was particularly low since there was no Lonely
Mountain dwarf dwelling to encourage traffic). Aragorn and the
hobbits did not go past the Forsaken Inn because they were cutting off
the loop the road took to avoid the marshes.

I think the Shire inns (such as the Golden Perch) that were
directly on the road saw a fair bit of dwarf traffic (in contrast to
the Hobbiton inns which were not).

--
\----
|\* | Emma Pease Net Spinster
|_\/ Die Luft der Freiheit weht

Glenn Holliday

unread,
Mar 30, 2004, 8:33:21 PM3/30/04
to
Belba Grubb from Stock wrote:
>

Good work Belba. Thanks.

> ... In one hand he held a long sword, and in
> the other a knife; both the knife and the hand that held it
> glowed with a pale light. He sprang forward and bore down on
> Frodo."
>
> Frodo's reaction to this is a complex one - a terrified hobbit, he
> throws himself down on the ground; an Elf-friend, he also cries aloud
> the name of the Queen of the Valar, Elbereth Gilthoniel; and resistant
> to the last, he strikes at the feet of the Black Rider who is
> attacking him. The Witch-king shrieks when the name of Elbereth is
> used, but still stabs Frodo in the left shoulder as Strider comes
> leaping out of the darkness at him with flaming logs in either hand.
> Frodo drops his sword, slips off the Ring, grasps it tightly and
> passes out.

A favorite question is how one Ranger managed to outnumber
five Nazgul in this scene. Re-reading it and paying attention
to some of the things you point out, I think Tolkien did
think this through more carefully than the casual scriptwriter
might think.

As far as I can recall, this is the only hint of special properties
in the barrow blades. We don't even know that the two Nazgul
who hesitate were from Angmar. I suspect the blade's value
here is symbolic. But with Tolkien, that counts for a lot.

Aragorn later says the name of Elbereth was more deadly
than the blade. Again, names are important in Middle-Earth.
But here, I think the importance of Frodo's calling on
Elbereth goes beyond symbols.

Though Frodo is Elf-friend, he does not seem to know
deep lore of the Valar. He has heard parts of songs,
but asks more questions than he answers. I don't believe
Frodo called on Elbereth because he knew it would be a
good thing to do. I believe he cried out to Elbereth
under inspiration. That suggests that Elbereth, or other
divine forces, are present here. I believe the Nazgul
are repelled by the inverse of their own aura of fear.
The influence of the Valar is on Weathertop, and the Nazgul
are not in control as is their custom.

Ordinarily, you wouldn't expect Aragorn's attack with fire
to be more than a nuisance. The Nazgul should only need
to shed their black robes to be beyond Aragorn's reach.
Both here and at the Ford, there is a suggestion that
both fire and water are harmful to the Nazgul. Both
are elemental forces, and associated with Valar.

So they are already trying to defy Elbereth, and a
Dunedan who also has a unique blessing on him attacks
with fire. I think that was more than they could cope with.

I am not satisfied with the Nazgul's hanging back then,
and waiting for Frodo to weaken. Their main objective
was the Ring. They almost had it at Weathertop. Waiting
for Frodo to fade gives their enemies more time to bring
the Ring to safety. On the other hand, if the Nazgul can
grab the Ring, then Sauron's victory is assured, and they
can return to snatch Frodo at their leisure.

Tolkien wanted to ratchet up the stakes at this point in
the story by putting Frodo in serious danger. But having
written Weathertop, Tolkien had to solve the problem of
getting Frodo to safety. So the Nazgul hang back until
the company nears the Ford and they must move or let the
Ring go into Rivendell and out of their reach. I think
Tolkien painted himself into a corner here, and I'm not
convinced by his solution.

Given my own interpretation of Frodo's calling on Elbereth,
I can assume that the Nazgul were reluctant to attack again
because they feared the same result. But Tolkien doesn't
seem to think that's the reason, so I can't argue strongly
for it.

--
Glenn Holliday holl...@acm.org


Shanahan

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 8:05:33 PM3/31/04
to

Granted. I'm not saying that all species who reproduce in the same
manner, or who are closely related, can automatically reproduce with each
other. Obviously that's not true.

I'm saying that:
1) Tolkien says that Orcs were created from Elves;
2) Tolkien says that Elves and Men can cross-breed and produce fertile
young;
3) Tolkien very strongly implies that Orcs and Men have been cross-bred by
Saruman;
4) You therefore have three races of beings, one of which was created from
another of the three; and there has been successful cross-breeding between
two of the three possible crosses.
5) Tolkien says that there are orc-men who vary greatly in their
"orc-like" vs. "man-like" appearance, thus implying multi-generational
breeding.

Shanahan

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 9:10:37 PM3/31/04
to
AC wrote:
>> Shanahan <pog...@redsuspenders.com> wrote:
>> Tolkien does say that the Orcs reproduced their kind according to the
>> manner of the Children of Iluvatar, so for the "pure-bred" Orc,
<snip>

> Being closely related doesn't imply that fertile viable young can be
> naturally produced. Chimps reproduce exactly the same way we do, but
> I'll warrant even with invitro fertilization you couldn't produce
> offspring.

All this discussion about breeding has got me thinking about gene creation
and the Valar. I was thinking along the lines that Saruman wouldn't be
able to manipulate the Orcs for breeding on this minute a level, to
actually control the genome. But then I realized that of course the Valar
could do this, so maybe a Maia could as well. Melkor certainly must have,
in order to create Orcs in the first place. One assumes that Yavanna
could as well.

So did the Valar create/manipulate genes on a general "magical" level, or
were they tinkering with the actual little molecules themselves? (brings
up a picture of a querulous Aule, hunched over a microscope, putting down
teeny little instruments, rubbing his eyes, and cursing Heisenberg...<g>)
Yavanna comes by to commiserate, saying the genome of the d*mn Ents is the
lengthiest, slowest structure she's ever had to deal with!

But maybe I'm one of those who "considers only the majesty of the Ainur,
and not their terrible sharpness; as who should take the whole field of
Arda for the foundation of a pillar and so raise it until the cone of its
summit were more bitter than a needle."

Glenn Holliday

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 9:29:13 PM3/31/04
to
Glenn Holliday wrote:
>
> As far as I can recall, this is the only hint of special properties
> in the barrow blades.

... until Merry stabs the Witch King with one. D'oh!

--
Glenn Holliday holl...@acm.org

ste...@nomail.com

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 9:42:19 PM3/31/04
to
In rec.arts.books.tolkien Glenn Holliday <holl...@acm.org> wrote:
: Tolkien wanted to ratchet up the stakes at this point in

: the story by putting Frodo in serious danger. But having
: written Weathertop, Tolkien had to solve the problem of
: getting Frodo to safety. So the Nazgul hang back until
: the company nears the Ford and they must move or let the
: Ring go into Rivendell and out of their reach. I think
: Tolkien painted himself into a corner here, and I'm not
: convinced by his solution.

This is not too surprising considering that when he wrote that
scene, Aragorn was still a hobbit named Trotter, Frodo was Sam,
Bingo was Frodo, and The Ring was just a Ring. Many key elements
of the story were changed but the account of Weathertop was never
really changed, and it shows when you stop and think about it.

Stephen

Shanahan

unread,
Mar 31, 2004, 10:09:48 PM3/31/04