Chapter of the Week LOTR Bk6 Ch3 Mount Doom

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Christopher Kreuzer

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Mar 6, 2005, 10:12:10 PM3/6/05
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Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
Book 6, Chapter 3: Mount Doom

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introduce a future chapter (some of the Appendices are still available),
go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org

As Frodo says to Sam: "This is the end at last. On Mount Doom doom shall
fall." While not quite the end of the book, this chapter does see the
end of the Quest of Mount Doom, the quest to travel to Mount Doom and
destroy the Ring, the quest that Frodo and Sam undertook several months
and many chapters ago in Rivendell. This chapter covers several days,
and has two main characters, Sam and Frodo, struggling with the Ring
through the dreadful land of Mordor. They are still followed by Gollum,
who attacks them on the slopes of Mount Doom. The attack fails, Sam
spares Gollum, and Frodo enters the Mountain of Fire. The climactic
moment to the chapter comes when Frodo refuses to destroy the Ring and
instead claims it for his own. The Dark Lord (Sauron) becomes aware of
Frodo and: "the Power in Barad-dur was shaken, and the Tower trembled
from its foundations to its proud and bitter crown." Back in Mount Doom,
Gollum again attacks Frodo, this time successfully, and the Ring is
finally destroyed as Gollum overbalances on the edge of the Crack of
Doom, and falls into the Fire holding the Ring. Sam carries Frodo
outside, back onto the slopes of Mount Doom, amid scenes of immense
destruction as Sauron's power crumbles into dust. The chapter closes
with Frodo's words: "I am glad you are here with me. Here at the end of
all things, Sam."

Chapter Summary
===============

A) [Sam's assessment of the task - "something to do before the end"]

The first phase of this chapter continues from the previous chapter,
with Sam and Frodo resting in the shallow pit they ended up in after
escaping from the orcs they had been marching with in orc-disguise. They
hide in the pit, under the elven cloaks from Lorien. They have only
water to drink and lembas (elven waybread) to eat. After the forced
march with the orcs, they have ended up near the Isenmouthe (the
entrance to Udun) in the north-west corner of Mordor. Sam sees that the
wall of the Isenmouthe is no more than a furlong away northwards. The
Mountain (Mount Doom) is towards the south-east, and looks "every step
of fifty miles" away. Sam reckons it will take a week to get there.

As Sam considers how they will get there, we read this:

"...slowly a new dark thought grew in his mind. Never for long had hope
died in his staunch heart, and always until now he had taken some
thought for their return. But the bitter truth came home to him at last:
at best their provision would take them to their goal; and when the task
was done, there they would come to an end, alone, houseless, foodless in
the midst of a terrible desert. There could be no return."

[1]

Sam remembers that there was a job he felt he had to do when he started,
and now realises that it is likely to be this task: "to help Mr Frodo to
the last step and then die with him".

[This 'remembering' seems to refer to a comment by Sam back in the Shire
after meeting the Elves: "...after last night I feel different. I seem
to see ahead, in a kind of way. I know we are going to take a very long
road, into darkness; but I know I can't turn back. It isn't to see Elves
now, nor dragons, nor mountains, that I want - I don't rightly know what
I want: but I have something to do before the end, and it lies ahead,
not in the Shire. I must see it through, sir, if you understand me."
Frodo's reply is also interesting: "I don't altogether. But I understand
that Gandalf chose me a good companion. I am content. We will go
together." (A Short Cut to Mushrooms). Well, here they are, together,
and indeed after a very long road, in the darkness of the Land of
Mordor.]

Sam also remembers his friends in the Shire, including Rosie Cotton, and
also remembers Gandalf, thinking that things went wrong from the moment
they lost Gandalf. But the despair doesn't last long, as Sam's feelings
change in an interesting passage:

"But even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned to a new
strength. Sam's plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will
hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he
was turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair
nor weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue."

[2]

This Sam sees the positive aspect of the rugged terrain. They will be
able to creep through it unseen. Though Sam also realises it will be an
evil road for the weary and exhausted. Frodo's only comment in this
section is his response to Sam's urging that they must start moving: "I
can manage it. I must."

B) [Journeying east by the orc-road - "a wall of night at the last end
of the world"]

This section describes four days of travel by Sam and Frodo. They
journey eastwards during the day, and the reader is told that the
servants and forces of Sauron are travelling by the secrecy of night
because "the winds of the world" had removed Sauron's veils (of shadow
and cloud), and Sauron is troubled by "tidings of bold spies". Also, the
marshalling of Sauron's forces is now practically complete, with all of
them marshalled in Udun. It seems that Sam and Frodo travel on the road
each day, and sleep near the road at night in some hollow or hiding
place. They are actually travelling on a road that leads to the Black
Tower itself - Barad-dur! They have little water left, and use the water
from orc-cisterns on the road, as well as the wonderful sustaining
powers of the lembas.

There are several synchronising references in this section, telling us
of the progress of the Host of the West that we last heard about in
battle at the Black Gate: "the Captains of the West had passed the
Cross-roads and set flames in the deadly fields of Imlad Morgul"; "as
the Ring went south and the banners of the kings rode north" [well,
actually, the Ring is going more east than south at the moment - but I
guess this is poetic license].

More notable is the description of the nearby Power:

"...far worse than all such perils was the ever-approaching threat that
beat upon them as they went: the dreadful menace of the Power that
waited, brooding in deep thought and sleepless malice behind the dark
veil about its Throne. Nearer and nearer it drew, looming blacker, like
the oncoming of a wall of night at the last end of the world."

[3]

And the effects on Frodo:

"the two wanderers came to an hour of blank despair"; "the time lay
behind them like an ever-darkening dream. All this last day Frodo had
not spoken, but had walked half-bowed, often stumbling, as if his eyes
no longer saw the way before his feet. Sam guessed that among all their
pains he bore the worst, the growing weight of the Ring, a burden on the
body and a torment to his mind. Anxiously Sam had noted how his master's
left hand would often be raised as if to ward off a blow, or to screen
his shrinking eyes from a dreadful Eye that sought to look in them. And
sometimes his right hand would creep to his breast, clutching, and then
slowly, as the will recovered mastery, it would be withdrawn."

This description is a lot like that in the chapter 'The Passage of the
Marshes', where Frodo is also exposed to the Dark Power of Barad-dur as
they approach Mordor from the North. The description of the hand
creeping towards the Ring is like that described at the base of the
Stairs of Cirith Ungol as the Witch-King passed near Sam and Frodo. Back
in this chapter, there is a horrible description of Frodo with feebly
twitching hands. And Sam's rest is disturbed as well, by dreams of
tortured beings and lights like gloating eyes. Once, when awoken
suddenly, Sam sees pale lights like eyes.

[4]

C) [Preparing to leave the orc-road - The Wheel of Fire I]

This section is very short, but has a lot of conversation and two
notable scenes. There is also an interesting quote about the nature of
the darkness coming from Mordor. As well as the fumes and clouds from
Mount Doom, there is this: "...as the Mountain drew near the air was
ever mirky, while out from the Dark Tower there crept the veils of
Shadow that Sauron wove about himself." There seems to be a physical
reality to the Shadow of Sauron, separate from the fumes from Mount
Doom. See also the other description above of the Dark Power like the
"oncoming of a wall of night".

[5]

The first interesting scene comes as Sam and Frodo consider the way they
must go, southwards over the "fuming, barren, ash-ridden land" between
the road and the Mountain. Frodo quails before this sight, and Sam,
though he knows the offer is useless, suggests that he should carry the
Ring for Frodo. Predictably, Frodo refuses and a "wild light" comes into
his eyes. As Frodo calms down, he explains sadly: "It is my burden, and
no one else can bear it. It is too late now, Sam dear. You can't help me
in that way again. I am almost in its power now. I could not give it up,
and if you tried to take it I should go mad."

[6]

Sam agrees, and suggests lightening the load by discarding most of the
orc-gear and other items. Sam finds it particularly hard to part with
his cooking gear. As Sam reminds Frodo of the rabbit stew he [Sam]
prepared in Ithilien, Frodo's torment is revealed by his inability to
properly remember such events and sights and smells:

"I know that such things happened, but I cannot see them. No taste of
food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree or grass or
flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked in the dark,
Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire. I begin to
see it even with my waking eyes, and all else fades."

[7]

Sam seems heartbroken by this, and kisses Frodo's hand and talks
haltingly for a while, then gets on with disposing of the orc-gear and
cooking pans. The only items Sam and Frodo keep are the elven cloaks,
elven rope, elven waybread, water bottle, pack, Sting, phial, and Sam's
box and the clothes Sam is wearing. Oh, and that Ring Frodo has of
course!

[8]

D) [Travelling south to Mount Doom - Thirst, temptations and internal
debates]

After that little conversational interlude, the style returns to
narrative overview and Sam and Frodo struggle southwards for two days
from the road to the mountain. We learn that the Nazgul are far away,
shadowing the march of the Captains of the West, an event that also much
occupies the mind of Sauron. Frodo does not speak much, saying: "I'm
thirsty". After leaving the road, they won't find any water and will
indeed be very thirsty.

There is a strange interlude where Sam, on the first night off the road,
is tortured by memories of water. He also debates with himself, and an
alter ego tries to persuade him to give up the quest, and finds other
problems, such as how to find the Cracks of Doom. Sam successfully
ignores this annoying voice in his head.

[9]

The final day of travel to Mount Doom is another description of tortured
travel. Very thirsty, a lot of pain, fumes in the air, but still these
two indomitable hobbits struggle onwards. They find it very hard to
sleep that night, partly due to cold and the anticipation of the final
effort tomorrow, though Sam's mind is clearer and no internal debates
take place in his head.

[10]

E) [Crawling up the slopes of Mount Doom - a sudden sense of urgency]

This section starts with Sam carrying Frodo up the slopes. It has the
brilliant line:

"Come, Mr. Frodo! I can't carry it for you, but I can carry you and it
as well."

There is a reminder of Frodo's toils: "his long pains, wound of knife,
and venomous sting, and sorrow, fear, and homeless wandering", as well
as the suggestions that Sam may have been given some strength to carry
Frodo, and a passing reference to the dear Shire "carrying a
hobbit-child pig-a-back in some romp on the lawns or hayfields of the
Shire" as a stark contrast to the evils of this dark land they are in.

There is also an extensive description of the structure of the Mountain.
A sloping base, with a steeper cone rising out of the base. There is
also a road that winds about the base and part of the cone, reaching the
Sammath Naur (Chambers of Fire), high up, but still far below the summit
of Mount Doom. We read that this road leads from Barad-dur to the
Mountain, and the Sammath Naur faces east towards the Window of the Eye.

Sam and Frodo find this road, but then suddenly we read: "Slowly the
light grew. Suddenly a sense of urgency which he did not understand came
to Sam. It was almost as if he had been called: 'Now, now, or it will be
too late!' He braced himself and got up. Frodo also seemed to have felt
the call. He struggled to his knees."

[11]

But there are a few more twists to the tale. Frodo feels a compulsion to
turn and look eastwards, and as the veils around the Black Tower part,
Frodo catches a sideways glimpse of the Eye of Sauron: "there stabbed
northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing Eye; and then the
shadows were furled again and the terrible vision was removed." Even
though we read immediately that the Eye is _not_ turned towards Frodo
(and is looking northwards, well north-westwards, at the Captains of the
West), the effect is instant: "Frodo at that dreadful glimpse fell as
one stricken mortally. His hand sought the chain about his neck."
Luckily Sam is there to save the day and prevent Frodo putting on the
Ring. This event also prompts Sam to start moving again (he even thinks
Sauron has spotted them).

[12]

F) [The return of Gollum - The Wheel of Fire II]

Unfortunately, another twist to the tale crops up here. Gollum chooses
this time, or soon after, to make his return. The timescale also
switches to real-time here, with events described in detail from here
until the end of the chapter. Gollum jumps on Sam as he carries Frodo
along the winding road. Sam, Frodo and Gollum crash to the ground, and
Gollum attempts to take the Ring from Frodo. It seems that Gollum has
realised that they intend to destroy the Ring. Frodo wins his fight with
Gollum, because Gollum is, even more so than Sam and Frodo, a starved,
haggard thing; and also because Gollum's attempt to take the Ring
"roused the dying embers of Frodo's heart and will".

[13]

This prompts the famous 'wheel of fire'/'talking Ring' scene [though I
agree with the seeming consensus that Frodo and not the Ring is talking
here]. Frodo faces down and cows Gollum using the power of the Ring, and
Sam has another vision:

"'Down, down!' [Frodo] gasped, clutching his hand to his breast, so that
beneath the cover of his leather shirt he clasped the Ring. 'Down you
creeping thing, and out of my path! Your time is at an end. You cannot
betray me or slay me now.'"

"Then suddenly, as before under the eaves of the Emyn Muil, Sam saw
these two rivals with other vision. A crouching shape, scarcely more
than the shadow of a living thing, a creature now wholly ruined and
defeated, yet filled with a hideous lust and rage; and before it stood
stern, untouchable now by pity, a figure robed in white, but at its
breast it held a wheel of fire. Out of the fire there spoke a commanding
voice.

'Begone, and trouble me no more! If you touch me ever again, you shall
be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.'"

[14]

Gollum backs away, the vision passes, and Sam steps forward between
Gollum and Frodo. Sam tells Frodo to carry on and Frodo, in a distant
and preoccupied mood, says "Yes, I must go on. Farewell, Sam! This is
the end at last. On Mount Doom doom shall fall. Farewell!" Frodo then
walks away slowly and erect.

[15]

Sam then prepares to battle with Gollum, but Gollum falls whimpering to
the ground and pleads for mercy, saying that he will turn to dust when
the Ring is destroyed. Sam seems to come close to killing Gollum, but
something restrains him. He curses Gollum and tells him to go away.
Gollum flees and Sam follows Frodo (now out of sight). Gollum stops and
warily follows Sam.

[16]

G) [At the Sammath Naur - "the heart of the realm of Sauron"]

As Sam, following the road, reaches the entrance to the Sammath Naur
(the Chambers of Fire wherein is the Crack of Doom), he tries to use
Galadriel's Phial. But it fails, reminding us that:

"He was come to the heart of the realm of Sauron and the forges of his
ancient might, greatest in Middle-earth; all other powers were here
subdued."

Sam then sees, by the red glare of the fires, Frodo standing on the edge
of a fissure across this internal passageway inside Mount Doom. This is
the Crack of Doom. But Frodo does not destroy the Ring. In a "voice
clearer and more powerful than Sam had ever heard him use", we hear that
Frodo's intentions have changed: "I have come. But I do not choose now
to do what I came to do. I will not do this deed. The Ring is mine!" And
Frodo puts the Ring on his finger!

[17]

Sam is then hit from behind by Gollum. But more notably, we get an
immediate reaction from Sauron:

"The Dark Lord was suddenly aware of him, and his Eye piercing all
shadows looked across the plain to the door that he had made; and the
magnitude of his own folly was revealed to him in a blinding flash, and
all the devices of his enemies were at last laid bare. Then his wrath
blazed in consuming flame, but his fear rose like a vast black smoke to
choke him. For he knew his deadly peril and the thread upon which his
doom now hung."

[18]

We read that the armies of Sauron are left steerless, and the Nazgul are
sent speeding to Mount Doom to save the day. But it is too late. Gollum
has attacked Frodo, bitten the Ring (still on a finger but now glowing
as if with a living fire) from Frodo's hand, and, in a moment of
gloating evil, overbalanced while looking at the Ring, and fallen into
the Fire.

H) [Chapter epilogue - "Even Gollum may have something yet to do"]

Sam picks up Frodo and rushes outside, away from the immediate tumults
of Mount Doom. There is a descriptive passage where Sam has another
vision of the fall of Barad-dur:

"Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing
down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up,
until they toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled
and came foaming down upon the land."

[19]

Of more immediate concern is the destruction being wrought by Mount
Doom. A full-scale eruption seems to be in progress. The Nazgul are
destroyed by this (if not by the destruction of the Ring), and it seems
Sam and Frodo will be in peril. But this is not made clear until the
next chapter. Here, we merely have a gentle epilogue as Sam and Frodo
talk on the slopes of Mount Doom as the world crumbles around them.

[20]

The horrendous descriptions of Frodo's torments in this chapter are
rounded off with descriptions of a more normal Frodo:

"...there was Frodo, pale and worn, and yet himself again; and in his
eyes there was peace now, neither strain of will, nor madness, nor any
fear. His burden was taken away. There was the dear master of the sweet
days in the Shire."

[21]

Sam reacts with absolute joy. Frodo then recalls Gandalf's words and
closes the chapter with these words that sum up what has happened:

"But do you remember Gandalf's words: Even Gollum may have something yet
to do? But for him, Sam, I could not have destroyed the Ring. The Quest
would have been in vain, even at the bitter end. So let us forgive him!
For the Quest is achieved, and now all is over. I am glad you are here
with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam."

[22]

Comments and thoughts
=====================

A) Comments referenced to summary text

[1] This can't be the very _first_ moment Sam considered that they might
not return alive? Or maybe it is? What do you think?

[2] What caused this hardening of Sam's will? The lembas or something
else?

[3] Anyone want to go on a holiday to the Dark Tower? :-)

[4] Are these lights Gollum's eyes?

[5] There are many other descriptions of the Darkness that comes from
Mordor. How much of it is the fumes from Mount Doom, and how much of it
is these shadows woven by Sauron?

[6] What does Frodo mean when he says he "is almost in its power"? At
what point would Sam be forced to take the Ring from Frodo and continue
the quest? Probably only from his dead body. What if Frodo went mad or
succumbed to the Ring?

[7] What is this wheel of fire? Yes, I know it is the Ring, but it seems
to be a vision of the Ring. Is it related to the later description of
the Ring as "verily it seemed wrought of living fire" just before Gollum
falls into the Fire?

[8] Is Frodo only wearing the Elven cloak at this point? Sam is still
wearing his clothes, but Frodo seems to have only the cloak, elven rope
belt and Ring. Very ascetic.

[9] Is this description of Sam's mind the clarity of mind of the doomed
man? The peace of the man who will be executed in the morning?

[10] The final stages of the quest remind me of biblical scenes, such as
the temptation scenes in the desert. Are Sam's internal debates and the
thirst scenes meant to evoke such imagery?

[11] OK. Who is doing this calling to Sam and Frodo? This injecting of a
sense of urgency? Trying to synchronise the Ring destruction and the
Battle of the Morannon. My guess is Gandalf himself.

[12] I must apologise to Peter Jackson for doubting that he made up that
scene in the film where Frodo collapses under the influence of the Eye.
Pity they didn't keep the lighthouse beam pointing just to the northwest
(Tolkien's use of northwards is strange - it seems there is a large
difference between gazing north and gazing northwards).

[13] Dying embers of Frodo's heart and will? What is this about? Also,
exactly when did Gollum realise that Sam and Frodo intend to destroy the
Ring. Why not attack them earlier?

[14] Simple question. What is going on here with a talking wheel of
fire?

:-)

[15] Is Frodo still in control here? At what point does he lose control?

[16] Sam's mercy to Gollum. Easy or difficult? Important or not?

[17] Did Frodo fail or not? Consider what Tolkien says in Letter 191.
Someone should probably also talk about eucatastrophe, and whether this
is an example of it (or at least the bit where the dear old Frodo of the
Shire returns).

Some good starting points:

http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/msg/6d0b16eb3bad19d9

http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/msg/8d57f813e801c501

In particular:

Letter #191: "If you re-read all the passages dealing with Frodo and the
Ring, I think you will see that not only was it quite impossible for him
to surrender the Ring, in act or will, especially at its point of
maximum power, but that this failure was adumbrated from far back. He
was honoured because he had accepted the burden voluntarily, and had
then done all that was within his utmost physical and mental strength to
do. He (and the Cause) were saved - by Mercy: by the supreme value and
efficacy of Pity and forgiveness of injury." [...] "No, Frodo 'failed'.
It is possible that once the ring was destroyed he had little
recollection of the last scene. But one must face the fact: the power of
Evil in the world is not finally resistible by incarnate creatures,
however 'good'; and the Writer of the Story is not one of us."

[18] Anyone else find Sauron's reaction funny?

[19] Ooh, look! Another "wave crashing on the land" image. Tolkien liked
using that dream he had. He used it for Numenor, and here we have
another similar set of images.

[20] Were the Nazgul destroyed by the eruption or destruction of the
Ring?

[21] Has Frodo really recovered? Does he change later and thoughts prey
on his mind, or are we (and Sam) deceived here into thinking that we
really have the old Frodo back?

[22] How crucial is Gollum to the tale? Do you feel pity for Gollum?
Could you forgive someone who has just bitten off your finger? Can you
understand the torment it seems Frodo and Gollum were suffering under?
Just how evil was this Ring?

B) General comments

- Timeline

The timeline is made clear from the Tale of Years and scattered
references in the text of this chapter. The timeline goes from the night
of the 18th/19th March when Sam and Frodo escape from the orcs, to 25th
March when the Ring goes into the Fire. At least six full days and
nights and part of a seventh.

Third Age 3019

March 19 - Frodo and Sam escape the orcs during the night of the 18th
March or early morning on the 19th March. They rest until morning, then
spend the rest of the day travelling east by, and then on, an orc road.
During this day, the Host of the Captains of the West set fire to the
deadly fields of Imlad Morgul and start journeying north through
Ithilien.

March 20-22 - Frodo and Sam continue journeying east. It is four days
since they escaped from the orcs (19th,20th,21st,22nd March) and March
22 is the day of the 'dreadful nightfall' and also the Host of the West
"nears the end of the living lands".

March 23 - From the main text, it seems to me that Sam and Frodo
actually turn southwards as the day of March 23 dawns. Though the Tale
of Years says it is March 22, this comes _after_ the description of the
'dreadful nightfall', which I think is dusk on March 22 (from the 'four
days' bit), and they don't actually turn south until after they sleep
that night. This is borne out by the fact that Frodo and Sam are said to
cast away their gear on March 23, and this is as they are leaving the
road and heading south. The Host of the West pass out of Ithilien and
Aragorn dismisses the faint-hearted.

March 24 - Sam and Frodo halted near Mount Doom on the evening of March
23. As the day of March 24 dawns they carry on, and as the day ends they
finish the two-day trek from the road to the foot of Mount Doom. The
Host of the West is camped outside the Black Gate.

March 25 - It seems that most of this day (all the days are short under
the shadows of Mordor) is taken up with climbing up Mount Doom and the
scenes inside the Mountain as the Ring is destroyed. From the next
chapter ("the sun gleamed red") it seems that the destruction of the
Ring took place near sunset. It seems the the Battle of the Morannon was
joined in the morning or early afternoon. These timings on March 25 are
not entirely clear.

- Maps and Geography

The geography of Sam and Frodo's journey in Mordor is a lot clearer if
you have the two-page map of Rohan, Gondor and western Mordor, as I have
at the front of my edition of 'The Return of the King'. The note in the
Tale of Years tells us that the orcs that Sam and Frodo march with came
from Durthang and were heading to Udun. The description in the previous
chapter, of a road heading east and then north, matches the bit of the
road from Durthang (the fortress west of Udun) before it meets the road
from Cirith Ungol (and Morgul) to Udun. Sam and Frodo are force-marched
northwards until they escape near the Isenmouthe. The road they use, or
travel near to, in this chapter, is the one shown on the map going from
Udun to Barad-dur. This road is quite a way north of Mount Doom, and the
bit they travel on, or near, runs due east. They leave this road due
north of Mount Doom, and travel south over the rugged terrain of
Gorgoroth. Mount Doom is also shown as being due west of Barad-dur.
Effectively, from Cirith Ungol, Sam and Frodo travel in a wide, looping,
n-shaped route to Mount Doom, most definitely not a direct line!

Using the scale, the journey from the Isenmouthe to Mount Doom, as
travelled by Sam and Frodo, is about 60 miles. Sam's direct-line
estimate of 50 miles is exactly correct. They travelled about 37 miles
on, or near, the eastwards orc-road in four days. They travelled about
23 miles over the more rugged off-road terrain to the foot of Mount Doom
in 2 days. The delay and off-road travel on the first day of travel
(March 19) might explain this faster travel in the final two days. Also,
discarding the luggage might also explain this, as the text says: "In
the first marches they went further and faster than he [Sam] had hoped.
The land was rough and hostile, and yet they made much progress, and
ever the Mountain drew nearer." I would also speculate that they were
slowed on the eastward road by the ever-brooding presence of the Power
in the Dark Tower.

Christopher

--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard

"No taste of food, no feel of water, no sound of wind, no memory of tree
or grass or flower, no image of moon or star are left to me. I am naked
in the dark, Sam, and there is no veil between me and the wheel of fire.
I begin to see it even with my waking eyes, and all else fades." (Frodo
speaking to Sam in Mordor - 'Mount Doom')

Mark Edelstein

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Mar 6, 2005, 10:37:02 PM3/6/05
to
I think most interesting would be paralleling the scene to other
Tolkien journeys into the layer of Dark lords. I contend that Tolkien
kept sub-conciously (maybe conciously too-there is the whole last fairy
tale motif) injecting LOTR with Silmarillion parallels, almost as if he
knew it wouldn't publish it.

It's too bad we never get some proper UT detailed "harsh journeys" from
the Silmarillion.

I'd also contend any act of mercy counts, given the theology that
weaves its way into the story.

AC

unread,
Mar 7, 2005, 12:54:10 AM3/7/05
to
On Mon, 07 Mar 2005 03:12:10 GMT,
Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

<snip excellent summary, good job Christopher>

>
> Comments and thoughts
>=====================
>
> A) Comments referenced to summary text
>
> [1] This can't be the very _first_ moment Sam considered that they might
> not return alive? Or maybe it is? What do you think?

I think it's quite possible that Sam really didn't understand what was fully
involved and the possible consequences of the quest until now.

>
> [2] What caused this hardening of Sam's will? The lembas or something
> else?

I think this is the best example we'll ever see of that Hobbitesh toughness
which Gandalf alluded to so long before. This must have been how the
Hobbits behaved in the face of dire circumstances.

>
> [3] Anyone want to go on a holiday to the Dark Tower? :-)

Heh.

>
> [4] Are these lights Gollum's eyes?

Good question! I've often wondered this myself.

>
> [5] There are many other descriptions of the Darkness that comes from
> Mordor. How much of it is the fumes from Mount Doom, and how much of it
> is these shadows woven by Sauron?

Obviously there is both present. I guess it's little wonder that Mordor is
the Land of Shadow.

>
> [6] What does Frodo mean when he says he "is almost in its power"? At
> what point would Sam be forced to take the Ring from Frodo and continue
> the quest? Probably only from his dead body. What if Frodo went mad or
> succumbed to the Ring?

Judging by Frodo behaves further on, I suspect that it would have to be
death or severe injury. I think Frodo has gained sufficient stature to be
able to use the Ring's real powers (some may disagree on the nature
confrontation between Frodo and Gollum at the foot of Mount Doom, of
course).

>
> [7] What is this wheel of fire? Yes, I know it is the Ring, but it seems
> to be a vision of the Ring. Is it related to the later description of
> the Ring as "verily it seemed wrought of living fire" just before Gollum
> falls into the Fire?

I suppose, but I also think that it's very good imagery for the effect its
having on Frodo, a burden and a threat, a terrifying symbol of terrible
power.

>
> [8] Is Frodo only wearing the Elven cloak at this point? Sam is still
> wearing his clothes, but Frodo seems to have only the cloak, elven rope
> belt and Ring. Very ascetic.

He seems to barely manage with that.

>
> [9] Is this description of Sam's mind the clarity of mind of the doomed
> man? The peace of the man who will be executed in the morning?

Yes, I think this is the explanation. He's beyond the point of no return
now. There's only way to go, and that's ahead.

>
> [10] The final stages of the quest remind me of biblical scenes, such as
> the temptation scenes in the desert. Are Sam's internal debates and the
> thirst scenes meant to evoke such imagery?

I suppose there's something of the feel of the Exodus, though on a much
reduced time scale.

>
> [11] OK. Who is doing this calling to Sam and Frodo? This injecting of a
> sense of urgency? Trying to synchronise the Ring destruction and the
> Battle of the Morannon. My guess is Gandalf himself.

Gandalf seemed awfully busy in these final moments. I shy away from
guessing at these scenes where there's the potential for outside
intervention. If someone bent my arm, I'd bet it was the Valar themselves,
seeing the Hobbits in such hard shape, giving them some strength and resolve
for the final push.

>
> [12] I must apologise to Peter Jackson for doubting that he made up that
> scene in the film where Frodo collapses under the influence of the Eye.
> Pity they didn't keep the lighthouse beam pointing just to the northwest
> (Tolkien's use of northwards is strange - it seems there is a large
> difference between gazing north and gazing northwards).
>
> [13] Dying embers of Frodo's heart and will? What is this about? Also,
> exactly when did Gollum realise that Sam and Frodo intend to destroy the
> Ring. Why not attack them earlier?

I think I broached this one myself not so long ago. Gollum clearly knows
enough Ringlore to know that the Ring would be destroyed if thrown into
Sammath Naur. Yet wouldn't it have been just as bad for Gollum if Sauron
had reclaimed it? As I said before, I think Gollum's intent all along was
to betray Frodo and take the Ring, and I doubt he had any idea until he
caught up with them at Mount Doom that Frodo's true intent might be to
destroy the Ring.

>
> [14] Simple question. What is going on here with a talking wheel of
> fire?
>
>:-)

"The number you have dialed is not in service. Please hang up and try your
call again."

>
> [15] Is Frodo still in control here? At what point does he lose control?

I don't think Frodo loses control until he's in Sammath Naur.

>
> [16] Sam's mercy to Gollum. Easy or difficult? Important or not?

I don't think Sam had the strength to do anything more to Gollum. Obviously
important (if Providence has any part in what happens). If Gollum were
dead, then Sam would have been the only one left who could try to stop Frodo
when he claimed the Ring. I simply cannot see Sam throwing Frodo into
Sammath Naur.

>
> [17] Did Frodo fail or not? Consider what Tolkien says in Letter 191.
> Someone should probably also talk about eucatastrophe, and whether this
> is an example of it (or at least the bit where the dear old Frodo of the
> Shire returns).
>
> Some good starting points:
>
> http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/msg/6d0b16eb3bad19d9
>
> http://groups-beta.google.com/group/rec.arts.books.tolkien/msg/8d57f813e801c501
>
> In particular:
>
> Letter #191: "If you re-read all the passages dealing with Frodo and the
> Ring, I think you will see that not only was it quite impossible for him
> to surrender the Ring, in act or will, especially at its point of
> maximum power, but that this failure was adumbrated from far back. He
> was honoured because he had accepted the burden voluntarily, and had
> then done all that was within his utmost physical and mental strength to
> do. He (and the Cause) were saved - by Mercy: by the supreme value and
> efficacy of Pity and forgiveness of injury." [...] "No, Frodo 'failed'.
> It is possible that once the ring was destroyed he had little
> recollection of the last scene. But one must face the fact: the power of
> Evil in the world is not finally resistible by incarnate creatures,
> however 'good'; and the Writer of the Story is not one of us."

Frodo very clearly failed, and just as clearly (from Tolkien's comments in
Letters) that was unavoidable. Frodo had got the Ring to Sammath Naur, but
at that point the Ring was irresistable. I don't think anyone; Gandalf or
Galadriel included, could have withstood it in those final moments.

>
> [18] Anyone else find Sauron's reaction funny?

No, I find it sad in an odd sort of way, sort of how I find Denethor's last
moments or how Saruman ended up as sad. These talented people, all three
possessing such great gifts, and all those gifts wasted. Sauron is clearly
the greatest dweller in Middle Earth, an Ainu that must have neared the
Valar in power and knowledge, fooled by a cheap ruse and his own pride and
inability to understand his enemy.

>
> [19] Ooh, look! Another "wave crashing on the land" image. Tolkien liked
> using that dream he had. He used it for Numenor, and here we have
> another similar set of images.

I think it ties the whole together very nicely. The Lord of the Rings is
the perfect end to the mythos.

>
> [20] Were the Nazgul destroyed by the eruption or destruction of the
> Ring?

Hard to say. The Witch King was brought down prior to the Ring's
destruction, but that was by a bit of Numenorean wizardy. My hunch is that
their ultimate destruction came with the Ring falling in the Fire.

>
> [21] Has Frodo really recovered? Does he change later and thoughts prey
> on his mind, or are we (and Sam) deceived here into thinking that we
> really have the old Frodo back?

I think we are fooled. For the next little bit we are lead to believe that
the only scar of his trials was the missing finger.

>
> [22] How crucial is Gollum to the tale? Do you feel pity for Gollum?
> Could you forgive someone who has just bitten off your finger? Can you
> understand the torment it seems Frodo and Gollum were suffering under?
> Just how evil was this Ring?

Well Gollum clearly wasn't a terribly decent fellow even before he killed
Deagol to get the Ring. I think about Gandalf's statement that what
happened to Gollum might have happened to Hobbits that he knew. I always
picture Lotho Sackville-Baggins, another stinker who I could well believe
might have suffered the same fate as Smeagol.

Gollum is clearly pitiable. While he was a nasty little bastard before,
he's twisted and warped. He's psychologically damaged. The Ring has
destroyed the Hobbit, leaving behind this awful creature that literally
lives to retake his Precious.

<snip>

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

Georg Schönegger

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Mar 7, 2005, 6:38:40 AM3/7/05
to
Christopher Kreuzer schrieb:

>
> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
> Book 6, Chapter 3: Mount Doom
>
> To read previous Chapter of the Week discussions, or to sign up to
> introduce a future chapter (some of the Appendices are still available),
> go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org
>
> As Frodo says to Sam: "This is the end at last. On Mount Doom doom shall
> fall."

Maybe off-topic here, but i asked this question once before in this ng
and got no answer: WHY exactly was mount doom called mount doom? (same
for the crack!)

the obvious source would be the connection with the one ring, but
according to index A the mountain was renamed 'Amon Amarth' about 3429
SA when it burst into flame and sauron attacked the numenoreans. until
then, it had been just 'orodruin', the 'mountain of flame' - a sensible
and quite unspectacular name for an active volcano. so, what doom were
they talking about?

Georg

Georg Schönegger

unread,
Mar 7, 2005, 6:42:11 AM3/7/05
to
Christopher Kreuzer schrieb:

>
> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
> Book 6, Chapter 3: Mount Doom
>
> To read previous Chapter of the Week discussions, or to sign up to
> introduce a future chapter (some of the Appendices are still available),
> go to http://parasha.maoltuile.org
>
> As Frodo says to Sam: "This is the end at last. On Mount Doom doom shall
> fall."

Maybe off-topic here, but i asked this question once before in this ng

ne...@redbadge.co.uk

unread,
Mar 7, 2005, 2:32:16 PM3/7/05
to
In article <eEPWd.30041$8B3....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
spam...@blueyonder.co.uk says...

> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
> Book 6, Chapter 3: Mount Doom
>

> [1] This can't be the very _first_ moment Sam considered that they might


> not return alive? Or maybe it is? What do you think?
>

Sam has been living "A better life through denial"?

> [2] What caused this hardening of Sam's will? The lembas or something
> else?

"Thought must be the harder, heart be the keener,
mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens."


>
> [3] Anyone want to go on a holiday to the Dark Tower? :-)

Is that like Alton Towers? <http://www.alton-towers.co.uk/>


>
> [4] Are these lights Gollum's eyes?

Yessss.

[snip]

>
> [11] OK. Who is doing this calling to Sam and Frodo? This injecting of a
> sense of urgency? Trying to synchronise the Ring destruction and the
> Battle of the Morannon. My guess is Gandalf himself.
>

I'm afraid I don't see the need for all this external angelic prodding
(though that may be what Tolkien intended). Any prodding by Gandalf
would imply he knew all the time just what was happening to Frodo and
Sam, which I don't think should be the case, even with Gandalf 2.0. In
fact I think it a mistake that Tolkien has Gandalf do just that (prod
Frodo) way back at the end of Book Two. It works just as well with the
prompting coming from an internal source.

[snip]

>
> [18] Anyone else find Sauron's reaction funny?
>

What's the Valarin for "Oh, sh*t!"?

>
> [20] Were the Nazgul destroyed by the eruption or destruction of the
> Ring?

Clearly by the destruction of the ring. As with the other rings, all
that was done with them would be undone by the One Ring's destruction.


--
Pete Gray

Say No to ID Cards <http://www.no2id.net>
<http://www.redbadge.co.uk/no2idcards/>

AC

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Mar 7, 2005, 2:58:41 PM3/7/05
to
On Mon, 7 Mar 2005 19:32:16 -0000,
ne...@redbadge.co.uk <ne...@redbadge.co.uk> wrote:
> In article <eEPWd.30041$8B3....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
> spam...@blueyonder.co.uk says...
>
>> [20] Were the Nazgul destroyed by the eruption or destruction of the
>> Ring?
>
> Clearly by the destruction of the ring. As with the other rings, all
> that was done with them would be undone by the One Ring's destruction.

That begs the question as to what happened to the Witch King.

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

Georg Schönegger

unread,
Mar 8, 2005, 2:44:34 AM3/8/05
to
Michael Ikeda schrieb:

>
> Perhaps because the eruption of Mount Doom was a sign that Sauron was
> active again in Middle Earth.
>
> --
> Michael Ikeda mmi...@erols.com
> "Telling a statistician not to use sampling is like telling an
> astronomer they can't say there is a moon and stars"
> Lynne Billard, past president American Statistical Association

sounds good, but then what does 'crack of doom" mean?
i always had the impression that tolkien christened them because of
their part in the ring-story (including the destruction), but this is,
of course, only an external reason. the in-story-reason is not obvious
to me at all.

georg

Larry Swain

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Mar 8, 2005, 9:29:21 AM3/8/05
to

Pete Gray wrote:

> In article <slrnd2pcjh.96t....@aaron.clausen>,
> mightym...@hotmail.com says...

> Well, apart from the WK (and indeed including him), does it say anywhere
> that the Nazgul can't be just killed? Certainly holding, and even
> wearing the One Ring doesn't make you invulnerable. So my guess is that
> the WK was offed by Eowyn (with an assist from Merry), and the rest
> 'crackled, withered, and went out' when the power of the rings to extend
> their lives was terminated. YMMV.

Certainly doesn't say they can be offed either. And there's offed and
then there's offed--meaning there is defeated and made impotent and
there is "dead, killed".

Henriette

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Mar 8, 2005, 1:57:45 PM3/8/05
to
AC wrote:
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>
> <snip excellent summary, good job Christopher>
> >
Yes, very well as usual!

> > [2] What caused this hardening of Sam's will? The lembas or
something else?
>
> I think this is the best example we'll ever see of that Hobbitesh
toughness
> which Gandalf alluded to so long before. This must have been how the
> Hobbits behaved in the face of dire circumstances.
>

"But even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned to a new

strength":
Hobbitesh toughness was being lured out, as is the toughness of a human
being when hope dies and he or she has to choose between swimming
against the overstrong currant or drowning.

> > [4] Are these lights Gollum's eyes?
>
> Good question! I've often wondered this myself.

I think it is strongly suggested they are, here as well as at many
different other points throughout the tale.


>
> > [11] OK. Who is doing this calling to Sam and Frodo? This injecting
of a
> > sense of urgency? Trying to synchronise the Ring destruction and
the
> > Battle of the Morannon. My guess is Gandalf himself.
>
> Gandalf seemed awfully busy in these final moments. I shy away from
> guessing at these scenes where there's the potential for outside
> intervention. If someone bent my arm, I'd bet it was the Valar
themselves,
> seeing the Hobbits in such hard shape, giving them some strength and
resolve
> for the final push.

I opt for personal intuition.


>
> > [22] How crucial is Gollum to the tale?

Very crucial, and he would have been dearly missed, the loathsome
creature.

> > Do you feel pity for Gollum?

Very much.

> > Could you forgive someone who has just bitten off your finger? Can
you
> > understand the torment it seems Frodo and Gollum were suffering
under?

Yes. I think most people can understand dependency and addiction
enormously magnified, and even that it is one of the many reasons LOTR
appeals to us.

(snip)

Henriette

Yuk Tang

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Mar 8, 2005, 2:50:28 PM3/8/05
to
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:slrnd2nr3v.800....@aaron.clausen:
> On Mon, 07 Mar 2005 03:12:10 GMT,
> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>>
>> [5] There are many other descriptions of the Darkness that comes
>> from Mordor. How much of it is the fumes from Mount Doom, and how
>> much of it is these shadows woven by Sauron?
>
> Obviously there is both present. I guess it's little wonder that
> Mordor is the Land of Shadow.

I've always felt that the physical shadows came from Mount Doom, but
the extraordinarily oppressive atmosphere, beyond that caused by mere
lack of light, was caused by Sauron.

I read some of Martinez's essays recently, and in them he describes
the fortresses held by Gondor inside Mordor during the early 3rd Age.
What was Mordor like back then, when Sauron was inactive? Martinez
surmises that much of the supplies must have come from Ithilien,
resulting in an economic boom for that region, but were the garrisons
able to supplement this with food grown inside Mordor? After all, if
Mount Doom was able to create a land of dust in Gorgoroth, its
aftermath must also have been impressively fertile during those
periods when it wasn't spewing.


>> [13] Dying embers of Frodo's heart and will? What is this about?
>> Also, exactly when did Gollum realise that Sam and Frodo intend
>> to destroy the Ring. Why not attack them earlier?
>
> I think I broached this one myself not so long ago. Gollum
> clearly knows enough Ringlore to know that the Ring would be
> destroyed if thrown into Sammath Naur. Yet wouldn't it have been
> just as bad for Gollum if Sauron had reclaimed it?

At least Precious would still be alive. This is one of the points
where I think that Jackson's changes actually made thematic sense,
that Gollum values the Ring more than himself. I think that either
you, or Flame, made the same point some time ago, when you said that
the worst hurt that Frodo suffered was the destruction of the Ring.
Arwen clearly perceived this, and gave him the jewel as a
replacement.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Yuk Tang

unread,
Mar 8, 2005, 2:52:29 PM3/8/05
to
Georg Schönegger <g.scho...@aon.at> wrote in
news:422D57E2...@aon.at:
>
> sounds good, but then what does 'crack of doom" mean?
> i always had the impression that tolkien christened them because
> of their part in the ring-story (including the destruction), but
> this is, of course, only an external reason. the in-story-reason
> is not obvious to me at all.

Because it was where the One Ring was made? Martinez's exploration of
just how widely known Ringlore was makes for interesting reading.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Yuk Tang

unread,
Mar 8, 2005, 2:58:45 PM3/8/05
to
Larry Swain <thes...@operamail.com> wrote in
news:qdednSg8dP9...@rcn.net:

Perhaps the physical form was killed by Eowyn and Merry, but the
spirit stayed in the Halls, exchanging plesantries with Feanor, until
the One was destroyed.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Jon Hall

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Mar 8, 2005, 4:09:17 PM3/8/05
to
In message <Xns9613CB3CBC0C2...@130.133.1.4>
Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:


> >>>That begs the question as to what happened to the Witch King.

>

> Perhaps the physical form was killed by Eowyn and Merry, but the
> spirit stayed in the Halls, exchanging plesantries with Feanor, until
> the One was destroyed.

The WK was human, so not the Halls....
Jon.

--
jgc....@tiscali.co.uk
http://www.mcvax.org/jghall/

AC

unread,
Mar 8, 2005, 5:19:17 PM3/8/05
to
On 8 Mar 2005 19:50:28 GMT,
Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>
> I read some of Martinez's essays recently, and in them he describes
> the fortresses held by Gondor inside Mordor during the early 3rd Age.
> What was Mordor like back then, when Sauron was inactive? Martinez
> surmises that much of the supplies must have come from Ithilien,
> resulting in an economic boom for that region, but were the garrisons
> able to supplement this with food grown inside Mordor? After all, if
> Mount Doom was able to create a land of dust in Gorgoroth, its
> aftermath must also have been impressively fertile during those
> periods when it wasn't spewing.

Do you really get the impression that Gorgoroth was ever a fertile place?
As to Mr. Martinez, the less said the better. This sounds like a David
Day-ism to me.

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

Michael Ikeda

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Mar 8, 2005, 5:43:34 PM3/8/05
to
Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote in
news:Xns9613CA2D49DB2...@130.133.1.4:

Or, more simply, because it's a big crack inside of Mount Doom.

the softrat

unread,
Mar 8, 2005, 6:36:09 PM3/8/05
to
On Tue, 08 Mar 2005 08:44:34 +0100, Georg Schönegger
<g.scho...@aon.at> wrote:
>
>sounds good, but then what does 'crack of doom" mean?
>i always had the impression that tolkien christened them because of
>their part in the ring-story (including the destruction), but this is,
>of course, only an external reason. the in-story-reason is not obvious
>to me at all.
>
Similar question: Why do they call it Dusseldorf? What's a 'dussel'
anyway? And it sure aint no 'dorf' neither!


the softrat
"Honi soit qui mal y pense."
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--
Mr Bullfrog says, "Time's fun, when you're having flies!"

Mark Edelstein

unread,
Mar 8, 2005, 8:29:29 PM3/8/05
to

> Do you really get the impression that Gorgoroth was ever a fertile
place?
> As to Mr. Martinez, the less said the better. This sounds like a
David
> Day-ism to me.
>
> --

I'm pretty sure in the Appendices it mentions that Mordor was barren
even at the height of Gondor's power. It never does mention who lived
around Nurn at the time.

Yuk Tang

unread,
Mar 8, 2005, 11:29:49 PM3/8/05
to
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:slrnd2s975.b6g....@aaron.clausen:
> On 8 Mar 2005 19:50:28 GMT,
> Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>
>> I read some of Martinez's essays recently, and in them he
>> describes the fortresses held by Gondor inside Mordor during the
>> early 3rd Age. What was Mordor like back then, when Sauron was
>> inactive? Martinez surmises that much of the supplies must have
>> come from Ithilien, resulting in an economic boom for that
>> region, but were the garrisons able to supplement this with food
>> grown inside Mordor? After all, if Mount Doom was able to create
>> a land of dust in Gorgoroth, its aftermath must also have been
>> impressively fertile during those periods when it wasn't spewing.
>
> Do you really get the impression that Gorgoroth was ever a fertile
> place?

Nope, but since much of the desolation came from Orodruin, I'd have
thought that the usual volcanic conditions apply. Ie. sterility in
the first instance, extreme fertility after. Unless it was active
throughout the 3rd Age.


> As to Mr. Martinez, the less said the better. This sounds
> like a David Day-ism to me.

I'm pretty sure the Gondorian fortresses inside Mordor are Tolkien
text, either JRRT or CJRT. Which leads to the question of just how
they were maintained.


--
Cheers, ymt.

AC

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 1:09:52 AM3/9/05
to
On 9 Mar 2005 04:29:49 GMT,
Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:
> AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote in
> news:slrnd2s975.b6g....@aaron.clausen:
>> On 8 Mar 2005 19:50:28 GMT,
>> Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:
>>>
>>> I read some of Martinez's essays recently, and in them he
>>> describes the fortresses held by Gondor inside Mordor during the
>>> early 3rd Age. What was Mordor like back then, when Sauron was
>>> inactive? Martinez surmises that much of the supplies must have
>>> come from Ithilien, resulting in an economic boom for that
>>> region, but were the garrisons able to supplement this with food
>>> grown inside Mordor? After all, if Mount Doom was able to create
>>> a land of dust in Gorgoroth, its aftermath must also have been
>>> impressively fertile during those periods when it wasn't spewing.
>>
>> Do you really get the impression that Gorgoroth was ever a fertile
>> place?
>
> Nope, but since much of the desolation came from Orodruin, I'd have
> thought that the usual volcanic conditions apply. Ie. sterility in
> the first instance, extreme fertility after. Unless it was active
> throughout the 3rd Age.

I don't know, but I seem to recall that it was pretty clear that the region
around Mount Doom was sort of a permanent desolation. I'll have to hunt
down a reference.

>
>
>> As to Mr. Martinez, the less said the better. This sounds
>> like a David Day-ism to me.
>
> I'm pretty sure the Gondorian fortresses inside Mordor are Tolkien
> text, either JRRT or CJRT. Which leads to the question of just how
> they were maintained.

The distance between Mordor and Gondor is pretty darn negligible. I doubt
it would be that difficult at the height of Gondor's power to transport
supplies. The Anduin flows fairly close by.

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

Yuk Tang

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 6:07:22 AM3/9/05
to
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:slrnd2t4pg.bn2....@aaron.clausen:

IIRC all mentions of the land inside Mordor, with the exception of
the fields around Nurnen, are desolate. If so, how was it caused,
even in Sauron's absence? In RL volcanic soil is prime farmland,
unless the volcano was still active. If Orodruin was big enough to
adversely affect Gorgoroth, it should be big enough to positively
affect it too. And it was over a thousand years between the fall of
Sauron and the second fall of Minas Ithil, so nature should have had
ample opportunity to recover. Was it a lack of rainfall? If so, was
there such a marked difference between Ithilien (land of milk and
honey) and Gorgoroth? There doesn't seem to be that much difference
in distance, certainly not enough to create two such different
environments.

Tolkien has been impressively observant of geography elsewhere in his
writings, especially concerning Eriador, so I think it's fair to
raise questions. Who knows, perhaps they can be answered.


>>> As to Mr. Martinez, the less said the better. This sounds
>>> like a David Day-ism to me.
>>
>> I'm pretty sure the Gondorian fortresses inside Mordor are
>> Tolkien text, either JRRT or CJRT. Which leads to the question
>> of just how they were maintained.
>
> The distance between Mordor and Gondor is pretty darn negligible.
> I doubt it would be that difficult at the height of Gondor's power
> to transport supplies. The Anduin flows fairly close by.

There are the mountains in the way. Forts near the northern passes
would probably go via Dagorlad (via what we call the Morannon, but
the name might not have been used back then), while ones on the
western edges would use Minas Ithil. What about the ones deeper in?
If Mordor really were such a forbidding place, it would cost supplies
simply to get supplies to the interior. Cf. modern estimates of how
viable it is to supply fuel via land, or Sun Tzu's maxim that
supplying a war from the homeland ruins the nation.

As for Martinez: I've been called names by him before, but I respect
his Tolkien scholarship (even though he was wrong on that occasion).
If nothing else, his articles are certainly interesting, and as far
as I can check with Steuard and Stan's writings, just as well
researched and backed up. Just like the urban myths site I referred
to in aft a few weeks back; most of the posters in afu loathe him and
his posting style, but they don't deny his research or his
credibility.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Larry Swain

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 8:29:28 AM3/9/05
to

Yuk Tang wrote:
> AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote in
> news:slrnd2nr3v.800....@aaron.clausen:
>
>>On Mon, 07 Mar 2005 03:12:10 GMT,
>>Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:
>>
>>>[5] There are many other descriptions of the Darkness that comes
>>>from Mordor. How much of it is the fumes from Mount Doom, and how
>>>much of it is these shadows woven by Sauron?
>>
>>Obviously there is both present. I guess it's little wonder that
>>Mordor is the Land of Shadow.
>
>
> I've always felt that the physical shadows came from Mount Doom, but
> the extraordinarily oppressive atmosphere, beyond that caused by mere
> lack of light, was caused by Sauron.
>
> I read some of Martinez's essays recently,

he whom we do not name?


and in them he describes
> the fortresses held by Gondor inside Mordor during the early 3rd Age.

Like Cirith Ungol--which Tolkien tells us about in the appendices? Glad
ol' MM searched that one out for us.

> What was Mordor like back then, when Sauron was inactive?

Much the same.


Martinez
> surmises that much of the supplies must have come from Ithilien,
> resulting in an economic boom for that region, but were the garrisons
> able to supplement this with food grown inside Mordor?

Probably not. If there isn't a lot of rainfall, one needs irrigation.
NOt many irrigable rivers and lakes in the vicinity of Gondor's
fortresses on the borders of Mordor. And for there to be an economic
boom for Ithilien as supplier for these garrisons, the garrisons must be
posited to be HUGE with thousands of men in each. But that doesn't fit
Tolkien's descriptions.

After all, if
> Mount Doom was able to create a land of dust in Gorgoroth, its
> aftermath must also have been impressively fertile during those
> periods when it wasn't spewing.


Mount Doom aided and controlled by Sauron and millions of orcs with
shovels, and Sauron wearing a ring blasting the land with "magic" and
such. We are not merely observing the normal functions of nature here,
but nature twisted to serve Sauron's ends.

>
>
>>>[13] Dying embers of Frodo's heart and will? What is this about?
>>>Also, exactly when did Gollum realise that Sam and Frodo intend
>>>to destroy the Ring. Why not attack them earlier?
>>
>>I think I broached this one myself not so long ago. Gollum
>>clearly knows enough Ringlore to know that the Ring would be
>>destroyed if thrown into Sammath Naur. Yet wouldn't it have been
>>just as bad for Gollum if Sauron had reclaimed it?


>
> At least Precious would still be alive.

Perhaps, but both Gandalf and Gollum reflect that seeing the Ring on
Sauron's hand would be a form of excruciating torture. And does Gollum
"know" that it would be destroyed or does he rather suspect--after all
how many things in Gollum's experience survive being tossed into a
volcano? And doesn't Frodo spill the beans ot Gollum? I don't have my
books handy....

Gregg Cattanach

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 10:38:35 AM3/9/05
to
Yuk Tang wrote:
>
> IIRC all mentions of the land inside Mordor, with the exception of
> the fields around Nurnen, are desolate. If so, how was it caused,
> even in Sauron's absence? In RL volcanic soil is prime farmland,
> unless the volcano was still active. If Orodruin was big enough to
> adversely affect Gorgoroth, it should be big enough to positively
> affect it too. And it was over a thousand years between the fall of
> Sauron and the second fall of Minas Ithil, so nature should have had
> ample opportunity to recover. Was it a lack of rainfall? If so, was
> there such a marked difference between Ithilien (land of milk and
> honey) and Gorgoroth? There doesn't seem to be that much difference
> in distance, certainly not enough to create two such different
> environments.

One possibility that is similar to the Rocky Mountains in the US is the
normal weather patterns that flow from west to east drop most of their
rainfall on the western slopes of those mountains. By the time the weather
system has traversed the mountains, there is very little moisture left to
rain out on the eastern slopes. Observe the Great Plains that start at
Denver which are nearly a desert environment.

I don't know if the Mountains of Shadow are a big enough range to cause this
kind of weather effect, however.

Are there references that Orodruin was always active? It seems I recall
something about it becoming active again after Sauron returned to Mordor.

--
Gregg C.


AC

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 11:23:28 AM3/9/05
to
On 9 Mar 2005 11:07:22 GMT,

I don't know. How do magic rings work? How do angelic beings communicate
with thought alone? What kind of gravity would a flat Earth have? What
physical interactions does an Ainu use to create a new physical form?

>
> Tolkien has been impressively observant of geography elsewhere in his
> writings, especially concerning Eriador, so I think it's fair to
> raise questions. Who knows, perhaps they can be answered.

Look at Mordor. An accurate geological feature it ain't.

>
>
>>>> As to Mr. Martinez, the less said the better. This sounds
>>>> like a David Day-ism to me.
>>>
>>> I'm pretty sure the Gondorian fortresses inside Mordor are
>>> Tolkien text, either JRRT or CJRT. Which leads to the question
>>> of just how they were maintained.
>>
>> The distance between Mordor and Gondor is pretty darn negligible.
>> I doubt it would be that difficult at the height of Gondor's power
>> to transport supplies. The Anduin flows fairly close by.
>
> There are the mountains in the way. Forts near the northern passes
> would probably go via Dagorlad (via what we call the Morannon, but
> the name might not have been used back then), while ones on the
> western edges would use Minas Ithil. What about the ones deeper in?
> If Mordor really were such a forbidding place, it would cost supplies
> simply to get supplies to the interior. Cf. modern estimates of how
> viable it is to supply fuel via land, or Sun Tzu's maxim that
> supplying a war from the homeland ruins the nation.

Well, we have to contend with the fact that Tolkien seems to have wanted to
keep the region around Mount Doom desolate. Short of inventing a "fact"
that is nowhere referenced in Tolkien's writings (which I consider to be a
David Day-ism, and thus the accusation) I suppose we have to accept that the
Dunedain had a longish supply route.

>
> As for Martinez: I've been called names by him before, but I respect
> his Tolkien scholarship (even though he was wrong on that occasion).
> If nothing else, his articles are certainly interesting, and as far
> as I can check with Steuard and Stan's writings, just as well
> researched and backed up. Just like the urban myths site I referred
> to in aft a few weeks back; most of the posters in afu loathe him and
> his posting style, but they don't deny his research or his
> credibility.

Oh yeah, the guy that claims BoLT and Silm are two different mythologies is
just steeping in credibility.

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

Yuk Tang

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 11:32:42 AM3/9/05
to
"Gregg Cattanach" <gcattana...@prodigy.net> wrote in
news:%LEXd.1885$ZB6...@newssvr19.news.prodigy.com:
> Yuk Tang wrote:
>>
>> IIRC all mentions of the land inside Mordor, with the exception
>> of the fields around Nurnen, are desolate. If so, how was it
>> caused, even in Sauron's absence? In RL volcanic soil is prime
>> farmland, unless the volcano was still active. If Orodruin was
>> big enough to adversely affect Gorgoroth, it should be big enough
>> to positively affect it too. And it was over a thousand years
>> between the fall of Sauron and the second fall of Minas Ithil, so
>> nature should have had ample opportunity to recover. Was it a
>> lack of rainfall? If so, was there such a marked difference
>> between Ithilien (land of milk and honey) and Gorgoroth? There
>> doesn't seem to be that much difference in distance, certainly
>> not enough to create two such different environments.
>
> One possibility that is similar to the Rocky Mountains in the US
> is the normal weather patterns that flow from west to east drop
> most of their rainfall on the western slopes of those mountains.
> By the time the weather system has traversed the mountains, there
> is very little moisture left to rain out on the eastern slopes.
> Observe the Great Plains that start at Denver which are nearly a
> desert environment.
>
> I don't know if the Mountains of Shadow are a big enough range to
> cause this kind of weather effect, however.

That's one possibility, which can perhaps be proved or disproved by
descriptions within the text. Anyone? Also, how far inside Mordor
does one go before such conditions no longer prevail? Does the
existence of Orodruin significantly affect that part of the climate
in that part of Mordor? Would the rainfall have been different
during the times when it was quiescent, compared to when it was
active?

Gandalf mentions that the fields around the Sea of Nurnen were rich
and worked by slaves. Presumably by the time of the War of the Ring,
those fields were the only fertile lands remaining in Mordor. If so,
was this the case during the rest of the Third Age? Was the desert
of Gorgoroth a result of geography, or was it caused by Sauron?
AFAIK, the story of the Brown Lands is as close as we get to the
subject, unfortunately.


> Are there references that Orodruin was always active? It seems I
> recall something about it becoming active again after Sauron
> returned to Mordor.

It was another possibility, given the norms of volcanic behaviour in
RL. If Orodruin is big enough to cause devastation for the
surrounding areas, its aftermath should also follow RL conditions for
volcanic environments, which IIRC are nitrate-rich soils, perfect for
plants. Even if it's not big enough to affect the whole of
Gorgoroth, the immediate surroundings should be prime land for
cultivation, given a modicum of moisture.

One argument against is that the volcano was dangerous enough to
preclude any such period of recovery. Since nature does not make
risk/benefit calculations, complete desolation throughout the Third
Age could only have been possible if the conditions prevented the
existence of life throughout the Third Age.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Yuk Tang

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 12:00:00 PM3/9/05
to
AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote in
news:slrnd2u8o0.cef....@aaron.clausen:

And Eriador? Anyone can see that Mordor was drawn as a box. Should
we then preclude all discussion with "Oh well, it's just a story".
If so, what are the CotW discussions for?


>>>>> As to Mr. Martinez, the less said the better. This sounds
>>>>> like a David Day-ism to me.
>>>>
>>>> I'm pretty sure the Gondorian fortresses inside Mordor are
>>>> Tolkien text, either JRRT or CJRT. Which leads to the question
>>>> of just how they were maintained.
>>>
>>> The distance between Mordor and Gondor is pretty darn
>>> negligible. I doubt it would be that difficult at the height of
>>> Gondor's power to transport supplies. The Anduin flows fairly
>>> close by.
>>
>> There are the mountains in the way. Forts near the northern
>> passes would probably go via Dagorlad (via what we call the
>> Morannon, but the name might not have been used back then), while
>> ones on the western edges would use Minas Ithil. What about the
>> ones deeper in? If Mordor really were such a forbidding place,
>> it would cost supplies simply to get supplies to the interior.
>> Cf. modern estimates of how viable it is to supply fuel via land,
>> or Sun Tzu's maxim that supplying a war from the homeland ruins
>> the nation.
>
> Well, we have to contend with the fact that Tolkien seems to have
> wanted to keep the region around Mount Doom desolate. Short of
> inventing a "fact" that is nowhere referenced in Tolkien's
> writings (which I consider to be a David Day-ism, and thus the
> accusation) I suppose we have to accept that the Dunedain had a
> longish supply route.

Which David Day-ish fact is this? That Gondor maintained forts
inside Mordor? That there are limited entry points from Gondor to
Mordor? If those are actual textual points, then why shouldn't we
apply RL rules to them? Eg. garrisons must either be maintained from
the outside, or live off the land, or a mixture of both. If living
off the land, that means that the land can be lived off. If
maintained from the outside, then they must follow RL rules of
supply, ie. the longer and more arduous the route, the more supplies
are wasted in getting it to the endpoint. Even if the forts only
existed for a comparatively short period of time (relative to
Gondor's history), they'd still have to be fed.

And Sun Tzu's point is that it is preferable to live off the land if
circumstances allow it. Outside supplies are wasteful, even if one
can make use of the local economy (due to inflation in the camp's
vicinity). One estimate of the siege of Dien Bien Phu said that 9
bowlfuls of rice were required to get 1 bowlful to the soldier on the
front line. If Mordor really were a desert as was the case in
Frodo's time, how much more resources would be required?

Martinez's scenario was that the necessity of getting those supplies
through, plus the long peace, and various other economic factors,
could well have resulted in a boom for Ithilien, relative to its
later history. I'd agree that's taking the text a fair distance, but
the scenario doesn't seem too unrealistic.


>> As for Martinez: I've been called names by him before, but I
>> respect his Tolkien scholarship (even though he was wrong on that
>> occasion). If nothing else, his articles are certainly
>> interesting, and as far as I can check with Steuard and Stan's
>> writings, just as well researched and backed up. Just like the
>> urban myths site I referred to in aft a few weeks back; most of
>> the posters in afu loathe him and his posting style, but they
>> don't deny his research or his credibility.
>
> Oh yeah, the guy that claims BoLT and Silm are two different
> mythologies is just steeping in credibility.

Have you read the essays I was talking about? I don't see much
difference between the speculations there, and those in aft and rabt.
One can draw different conclusions, and one can certainly make them
differently. But I certainly respect the route that he's taken, even
if I disagree (as I've done before) with his destination.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Shanahan

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 4:03:56 PM3/9/05
to
ne...@redbadge.co.uk <ne...@redbadge.co.uk> creatively typed:
> spam...@blueyonder.co.uk says...

>> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
>> Book 6, Chapter 3: Mount Doom
>

>> [2] What caused this hardening of Sam's will? The lembas or
>> something else?
>
> "Thought must be the harder, heart be the keener,
> mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens."

Great quote! It's from /Beorthelm/, no? But bear in mind that this
quote, in context, is cynical, IIRC. The speaker is the young man,
raised on heroic tales, believing in their aphorisms; and it is just
those noble rules that have caused the loss of the battle in that play
(when the king let the enemy over the bridge which was their only real
advantage).

Ciaran S.
--
Open up an abyss of infinite analytical regress


Shanahan

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 3:57:49 PM3/9/05
to
Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> creatively typed:
> AC <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote in
>> Christopher Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

<snip>


>>> [13] Dying embers of Frodo's heart and will? What is this about?

It's a metaphor. <g>

>>> Also, exactly when did Gollum realise that Sam and Frodo intend
>>> to destroy the Ring. Why not attack them earlier?
>>
>> I think I broached this one myself not so long ago. Gollum
>> clearly knows enough Ringlore to know that the Ring would be
>> destroyed if thrown into Sammath Naur. Yet wouldn't it have been
>> just as bad for Gollum if Sauron had reclaimed it?

Of course, it would, and Gollum knows this. It is one of the things
that keeps him from killing Frodo and taking the Ring all along: he
knows very well that it's better for him if Frodo holds the Ring, than
if Sauron captured it (Slinkerthink, not Stinkerthink). I'm also not
really sure that Gollum consciously knows ringlore; I believe it's more
something he senses intuitively.

> At least Precious would still be alive. This is one of the points
> where I think that Jackson's changes actually made thematic sense,
> that Gollum values the Ring more than himself. I think that either
> you, or Flame, made the same point some time ago, when you said that
> the worst hurt that Frodo suffered was the destruction of the Ring.
> Arwen clearly perceived this, and gave him the jewel as a
> replacement.

True. I would make two small changes in emphasis: the worst hurt that
Frodo suffered was the emptiness left inside him when the Ring was
destroyed (I think of it as the Ring having 'eaten' part of Frodo's
soul). And I think the jewel was intended as a comfort, rather than a
replacement, and also as a reminder that he had another option than
merely suffering on Middle Earth.

Ciaran S.
--
Code or be coded


AC

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 1:47:48 PM3/9/05
to
On 9 Mar 2005 17:00:00 GMT,

No, I haven't read Mr. Martinez's essay, so I probably shouldn't say any
more. I simply don't trust his judgement or his motives, and his behavior
here has indicated that there is no reason to view either favorably.

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

Natman

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 2:54:52 PM3/9/05
to

It is not at all uncommon for the environments on different sides of a
mountain range to be very different. Compare the rainforest on the
eastern side of Maui to the desert on the west. Or compare western
Oregon with eastern Oregon. Night and day difference.

Pete Gray

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 3:45:39 PM3/9/05
to
In article <d0ndv...@enews3.newsguy.com>, pogu...@ITbluefrog.com
says...

No, it's from the 'Battle of Maldon', I got the translation here:

<http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/texts/maldon.htm>

A longer section:

'Byrhtwold spoke, raised his shield--
he was an old retainer--shook his ash-spear;
full boldly he taught warriors:


"Thought must be the harder, heart be the keener,
mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens.

Here lies our prince all hewn,
good one on grit. He may always mourn
who from this war-play thinks now to turn.
My life is old: I will not away;
but I myself beside my lord,
by so loved a man, think to lie."
So Aethelgar's son emboldened them all...'

the softrat

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 8:17:43 PM3/9/05
to
On Wed, 9 Mar 2005 13:03:56 -0800, "Shanahan"
<pogu...@ITbluefrog.com> wrote:
>>
>> "Thought must be the harder, heart be the keener,
>> mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens."
>
>Great quote! It's from /Beorthelm/, no? But bear in mind that this
>quote, in context, is cynical, IIRC. The speaker is the young man,
>raised on heroic tales, believing in their aphorisms; and it is just
>those noble rules that have caused the loss of the battle in that play
>(when the king let the enemy over the bridge which was their only real
>advantage).
>
Except that in the original, which Tolkien probably had memorized, in
_The Battle of Maldon_, it is spoken by an old retainer during the
battle.

And it wasn't a 'king' that let the enemy across 'the bridge'. It was
a 'eorl' (read 'earl') who allowed the enemy to cross a ford/causeway.

Criticism here fails if one is not familiar with _The Battle of
Maldon_ and it helps to have read it in the original tongue. Otherwise
one is tilting at strawmen.

the softrat
"Honi soit qui mal y pense."
mailto:sof...@pobox.com
--

Please don't congregate in groups.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 8:19:22 PM3/9/05
to
"Pete Gray" <ne...@redbadge.co.uk> wrote:
> pogu...@ITbluefrog.com says...
> > ne...@redbadge.co.uk <ne...@redbadge.co.uk> creatively typed:
> > > spam...@blueyonder.co.uk says...
> >
> > >> Chapter of the Week (CotW) 'The Lord of the Rings' (LotR)
> > >> Book 6, Chapter 3: Mount Doom
> > >
> > >> [2] What caused this hardening of Sam's will? The lembas or
> > >> something else?

"But even as hope died in Sam, or seemed to die, it was turned to a new
strength. Sam's plain hobbit-face grew stern, almost grim, as the will
hardened in him, and he felt through all his limbs a thrill, as if he
was turning into some creature of stone and steel that neither despair
nor weariness nor endless barren miles could subdue."

> > > "Thought must be the harder, heart be the keener,
> > > mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens."
> >
> > Great quote! It's from /Beorthelm/, no?

The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son.
That's what I thought too, but the quote is not quite right.
The original bit from LotR made me think of that quote as well.

As Pete says below, he went back to the original (The Battle of Maldon),
though I'm not clear from what Pete said whether he is aware of
Tolkien's poetic reworking of 'The Battle of Maldon' fragment.

> > But bear in mind that this
> > quote, in context, is cynical, IIRC. The speaker is the young man,
> > raised on heroic tales, believing in their aphorisms; and it is just
> > those noble rules that have caused the loss of the battle in that
play
> > (when the king let the enemy over the bridge which was their only
real
> > advantage).

That is the interpretation that Tolkien gives it in his Modern English
poem ('The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son'), which is based
on 'The Battle of Maldon' (an Old English fragment).

The quote from Tolkien's Modern English poem is:

"Heart shall be bolder, harder be purpose,
More proud the spirit as our power lessens!
Mind shall not falter nor mood waver,
Though doom shall come and dark conquer."

Tolkien follows the poem with notes on the meaning of his work, and
focuses on lines 89 and 90 of the original fragment:

"ða se eorl ongan for his ofermode alyfan landes to fela laþere ðeode"

Tolkien's trans: "then the earl in his overmastering pride actually
yielded ground to the enemy, as he should not have done."

Tolkien does indicate that he thinks those lines from the 'Battle of
Maldon' fragment show that the author was condemning the decision of the
earl to yield ground, but he also recognises that the lines quoted above
and below ('Heart shall be bolder...') have been seen as: "the finest
expression of the northern heroic spirit, Norse or English, the clearest
statement of the doctrine of uttermost endurance in the service of
indomitable will."

Which might apply pretty well to Sam and Frodo.

> No, it's from the 'Battle of Maldon', I got the translation here:
>
> <http://faculty.uca.edu/~jona/texts/maldon.htm>
>
> A longer section:
>
> 'Byrhtwold spoke, raised his shield--
> he was an old retainer--shook his ash-spear;
> full boldly he taught warriors:
> "Thought must be the harder, heart be the keener,
> mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens.
> Here lies our prince all hewn,
> good one on grit. He may always mourn
> who from this war-play thinks now to turn.
> My life is old: I will not away;
> but I myself beside my lord,
> by so loved a man, think to lie."
> So Aethelgar's son emboldened them all...'

Must read the whole thing one day!

Christopher

--
---
Reply clue: Saruman welcomes you to Spamgard

Michele Fry

unread,
Mar 10, 2005, 1:14:53 AM3/10/05
to
In article <ugNXd.1212$QN1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>, Christopher
Kreuzer <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> writes

>The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son.
>That's what I thought too, but the quote is not quite right.
>The original bit from LotR made me think of that quote as well.
>
>As Pete says below, he went back to the original (The Battle of Maldon),
>though I'm not clear from what Pete said whether he is aware of
>Tolkien's poetic reworking of 'The Battle of Maldon' fragment.
>

>That is the interpretation that Tolkien gives it in his Modern English
>poem ('The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son'), which is based
>on 'The Battle of Maldon' (an Old English fragment).
>
>The quote from Tolkien's Modern English poem is:
>
>"Heart shall be bolder, harder be purpose,
>More proud the spirit as our power lessens!
>Mind shall not falter nor mood waver,
>Though doom shall come and dark conquer."

John Garth (in _Tolkien and the Great War_) comments that these lines
are a "summation of the old Northern heroic code" and this summation
"contains the awareness that death may come, but it focuses doggedly on
achieving the most with what strength remains: it had more to commend it
in terms of personal and strategic morale, than the self-sacrificial and
quasi-mystical tone of Rupert Brooke's already-famous _The Soldier_,
which implied that a soldier's worth to his nation was greater in death
than in life: "If I should die think only this of me: / That there's
some corner of a foreign field / That is forever England." (pp. 71-2) I
confess that when I read Garth's comments I got choked up, because I
felt that what he'd said was so very true. I've never liked Brooke very
much (although Siegfried Sassoon thought him wondrous and exotic on the
one occasion on which they met before the FWW) and these lines of his
have always irritated me... I much prefer Tolkien's translation of the
OE - even though _Maldon_ isn't even a response to the FWW, it seems
much more appropriate somehow...

>Tolkien follows the poem with notes on the meaning of his work, and
>focuses on lines 89 and 90 of the original fragment:
>

>"ša se eorl ongan for his ofermode alyfan landes to fela lažere šeode"


>
>Tolkien's trans: "then the earl in his overmastering pride actually
>yielded ground to the enemy, as he should not have done."
>
>Tolkien does indicate that he thinks those lines from the 'Battle of
>Maldon' fragment show that the author was condemning the decision of the
>earl to yield ground, but he also recognises that the lines quoted above
>and below ('Heart shall be bolder...') have been seen as: "the finest
>expression of the northern heroic spirit, Norse or English, the clearest
>statement of the doctrine of uttermost endurance in the service of
>indomitable will."
>
>Which might apply pretty well to Sam and Frodo.
>

>Must read the whole thing one day!

Do !! I read it myself during the summer, out of curiosity because I'd
picked up _Tree and Leaf_ (which of course, contains _The Homecoming_) -
I read it before reading Tolkien's poem since the action of _The
Homecoming_ follows on from _The Battle of Maldon_ - I can't recall
which edition I read, but if you're interested I can check !

Michele
==
There is no book so bad that it is not profitable on some part.

- Pliny the Younger
==
Now reading: Men at Arms - Terry Pratchett
==
Commit random acts of literacy! Read & Release at Bookcrossing:
http://www.bookcrossing.com/friend/Sass-80

John Jones

unread,
Mar 9, 2005, 2:31:54 PM3/9/05
to
"Shanahan" <pogu...@ITbluefrog.com> wrote in message
news:d0ndv...@enews3.newsguy.com...
> ne...@redbadge.co.uk <ne...@redbadge.co.uk> creatively typed:

> >
> > "Thought must be the harder, heart be the keener,
> > mind must be the greater, while our strength lessens."
>
> Great quote! It's from /Beorthelm/, no? But bear in mind that this
> quote, in context, is cynical, IIRC. The speaker is the young man,
> raised on heroic tales, believing in their aphorisms; and it is just
> those noble rules that have caused the loss of the battle in that play
> (when the king let the enemy over the bridge which was their only real
> advantage).
>

No; it's Aldorman Brytnoth's housecarls encouraging each other when they are
about to die, because their honour will not allow them to surrender or run
away after their leader had been killed. The point of the poem (The Battle
of Maldon) was that this type of heroism was in very short supply during the
reign of Ethelred the Unready.

Larry Swain

unread,
Mar 10, 2005, 9:23:35 AM3/10/05
to

AC wrote:

There's a world of difference. Here we all discuss, argue, lambast,
attack, parry, and joke, but hopefully no one takes it too seriously as
"scholarship". There are those here who have earned respect for their
well-researched web pages and arguments, and from time to time known and
respected Tolkien scholars weigh in with comments and reviews and
notices. But its a newsgroup.

On the other hand, MM takes newsgroup type discussions and then
publishes them as if they are Tolkien scholarship. This doesn't make him
wrong (although we agree that there are things he is wrong on), or that
even I disagree with him on everything (I don't, surprisingly enough,
sometimes I think he's got stuff spot on), but it does mean that there
is a rather large difference between what MM intends his essays to be
and what we intend our newsgroup essays and assays and forays to be.
And the problem with that, as you say, is that qualitatively and
speculatively there is no difference between the two.

Pete Gray

unread,
Mar 10, 2005, 3:01:18 PM3/10/05
to
In article <ugNXd.1212$QN1....@text.news.blueyonder.co.uk>,
spam...@blueyonder.co.uk says...

>
> The Homecoming of Beorhtnoth Beorhthelm's Son.
> That's what I thought too, but the quote is not quite right.
> The original bit from LotR made me think of that quote as well.
>
> As Pete says below, he went back to the original (The Battle of Maldon),
> though I'm not clear from what Pete said whether he is aware of
> Tolkien's poetic reworking of 'The Battle of Maldon' fragment.
>

Yes, I knew. It's made me wonder what on earth has happened to my copy
of Tree & Leaf, as I can't find it. It seemed an appropriate quote,
particularly since it is spoken by a retainer.

[snip]

>
> Must read the whole thing one day!
>

As softrat says it may be best to read it in the original, but those
like me, who can't, are limited to others' translations.

Stan Brown

unread,
Mar 10, 2005, 11:21:09 PM3/10/05
to
"Pete Gray" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:

>Well, apart from the WK (and indeed including him), does it say anywhere
>that the Nazgul can't be just killed?

Tolkien carfully says in a Letter that the WK was "reduced to
impotence", not "killed". (Letter 246, author's footnote)

--
Stan Brown, Oak Road Systems, Cortland County, New York, USA
http://OakRoadSystems.com
Tolkien FAQs: http://Tolkien.slimy.com (Steuard Jensen's site)
Tolkien letters FAQ:
http://users.telerama.com/~taliesen/tolkien/lettersfaq.html
FAQ of the Rings: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/ringfaq.htm
Encyclopedia of Arda: http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/default.htm
more FAQs: http://oakroadsystems.com/genl/faqget.htm

Stan Brown

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Mar 10, 2005, 11:24:19 PM3/10/05
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>[8] Is Frodo only wearing the Elven cloak at this point? Sam is still
>wearing his clothes, but Frodo seems to have only the cloak, elven rope
>belt and Ring. Very ascetic.

I believe so, yes. He was so very weary that he had to jettison all
possible weight.

Stan Brown

unread,
Mar 10, 2005, 11:29:50 PM3/10/05
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>[13] Dying embers of Frodo's heart and will? What is this about? Also,

>exactly when did Gollum realise that Sam and Frodo intend to destroy the
>Ring. Why not attack them earlier?

I think he knew for certain when they crossed into Mordor. Frodo
had told Faramir, and he and Sam surely must have discussed it at
some time when they thought they were alone but Gollum was sneaking
arund spying on them. So Gollum may well have known back in
Ithilien, but he didn't worry about it because he ASSumed that
Shelob would (a) get them and (b) toss the Ring aside.(*)

Once they were in Mordor, I think the last shreds of his loyalty to
Frodo were no match for the increased power of the pull of the
Ring. He had to track the Hobbits, but they gave him no opportunity
to attack until Mount Doom.

(*)Can you imagine Shelob with the Ring? Men, Elves, Dwarves, and
Orcs from all over the world, marching in lines to wait their turn
to be eaten by her?

Stan Brown

unread,
Mar 10, 2005, 11:34:11 PM3/10/05
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>[20] Were the Nazgul destroyed by the eruption or destruction of the
>Ring?

I don't believe the destruction of the One Ring would have done it.

When the One was destroyed, the other Fifteen (3 for Elves, 3
remaining Dwarf Rings, and 9 for Men) would have turned into
ordinary jewelry; but what was done with them would not disappear
(or Lorien and Rivendell would have crumbled to dust).

Thus I think the Eight Nazgul could have dragged on as wraiths
indefinitely. But in their madness they rode into the fire, which
destroyed them.

What I wonder about is, what happened to the Witch-king? I don't
see any way for his spirit to have been released, since he was only
"reduced to impotence" not killed on the Pelennor Fields.

Stan Brown

unread,
Mar 10, 2005, 11:36:12 PM3/10/05
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>[22] How crucial is Gollum to the tale? Do you feel pity for Gollum?
>Could you forgive someone who has just bitten off your finger?

Gollum is absolutely crucial -- without him the Ring would not have
been destroyed but would hve been recovered by Sauron, and we
should still probably be under his yoke.

I don't think "forgiveness" enters into it, since Golum was dead
and gone a moment later. Frodo would regret the loss of the finger
certainly, but I can't imagine him wasing resentment on the ex-
Gollum.

AC

unread,
Mar 11, 2005, 2:06:20 AM3/11/05
to
On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 23:34:11 -0500,
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>>[20] Were the Nazgul destroyed by the eruption or destruction of the
>>Ring?
>
> I don't believe the destruction of the One Ring would have done it.
>
> When the One was destroyed, the other Fifteen (3 for Elves, 3
> remaining Dwarf Rings, and 9 for Men) would have turned into
> ordinary jewelry; but what was done with them would not disappear
> (or Lorien and Rivendell would have crumbled to dust).

I have to differ on this one, Stan. We do see at least one work that is
undone; Bilbo.

"'It is true that I wish to go back to the Shire,' said Frodo, 'But first I
must go to Rivendell. For if there could be anything wanting in a time so
blessed, I missed Bilbo; and I was grieved when among all the household of
Elrond I saw that he was not come.'

'Do you wonder at that Ring-bearer?' said Arwen. 'For you know the power of
that thing which is now destroyed; and all that was done by that power is
now passing away. But your kinsman possessed this thing longer than you.
He is ancient in years now, according to his kind; and he awaits you, for he
will not again make any long journey save one.'"
- RotK - Many Partings

>
> Thus I think the Eight Nazgul could have dragged on as wraiths
> indefinitely. But in their madness they rode into the fire, which
> destroyed them.
>
> What I wonder about is, what happened to the Witch-king? I don't
> see any way for his spirit to have been released, since he was only
> "reduced to impotence" not killed on the Pelennor Fields.
>


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

Yuk Tang

unread,
Mar 11, 2005, 3:11:15 AM3/11/05
to
Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote in
news:39cle3F6...@individual.net:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>>[20] Were the Nazgul destroyed by the eruption or destruction of
>>the Ring?
>
> I don't believe the destruction of the One Ring would have done
> it.
>
> When the One was destroyed, the other Fifteen (3 for Elves, 3
> remaining Dwarf Rings, and 9 for Men) would have turned into
> ordinary jewelry; but what was done with them would not disappear
> (or Lorien and Rivendell would have crumbled to dust).
>
> Thus I think the Eight Nazgul could have dragged on as wraiths
> indefinitely. But in their madness they rode into the fire, which
> destroyed them.

What power would remain that would prevent them from following the
desire of Men to leave for the next world? As Aaron cites in his
post, Bilbo is an example of how one detained by a Great Ring would
suddenly feel the world weariness when the Ring is destroyed. How
much more so for the Nine, who possibly date back even to the Second
Age?

As for Lorien and Rivendell: I was going to say that they merely
reverted back to the natural process of decline and renewal, instead
of being postponed indefinitely, but then humanity does the same.
Perhaps Eru's gift to Men is a stronger force than this natural
process, that though seemingly the same (birth, life, and death),
the end is different for the Second Children from the rest of Arda?


--
Cheers, ymt.

aelfwina

unread,
Mar 12, 2005, 4:16:56 AM3/12/05
to

"Stan Brown" <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote in message
news:39ckrkF6...@individual.net...

> "Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>>[8] Is Frodo only wearing the Elven cloak at this point? Sam is still
>>wearing his clothes, but Frodo seems to have only the cloak, elven rope
>>belt and Ring. Very ascetic.
>
> I believe so, yes. He was so very weary that he had to jettison all
> possible weight.

There must have been *some* remnants or tatters left. To anticipate next
week's chapter: "Even the orc-rags that you bore in the Black Land, Frodo,
shall be preserved..."
Barbara

Larry Swain

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Mar 11, 2005, 8:32:43 AM3/11/05
to

Stan Brown wrote:
> "Pete Gray" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>
>>Well, apart from the WK (and indeed including him), does it say anywhere
>>that the Nazgul can't be just killed?
>
>
> Tolkien carfully says in a Letter that the WK was "reduced to
> impotence", not "killed". (Letter 246, author's footnote)
>

Thanks Stan! I knew I had read this somewhere but couldn't find where!

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
Mar 11, 2005, 6:46:46 AM3/11/05
to
the softrat <sof...@pobox.com> wrote:
> On Tue, 08 Mar 2005 08:44:34 +0100, Georg Schönegger
> <g.scho...@aon.at> wrote:

[Mount Doom]
>> sounds good, but then what does 'crack of doom" mean?
>> i always had the impression that tolkien christened them because of
>> their part in the ring-story (including the destruction), but this is,
>> of course, only an external reason. the in-story-reason is not obvious
>> to me at all.

It's a sort of "donnish" joke. The /Guide to the Names/ explains:

Crack of Doom. In modern use derived from Macbeth IV i 117, in which
the /cracke of Doome/ means 'the announcement of the Last Day', by a
crack or peal of thunder: so it is commonly supposed, but it may mean
'the sound of the last trump', since crack could be applied to the
sudden sound of horns or trumpets (as it is in Sir Gawain and the
Green Knight lines 116, 1166). In this story crack is here used in the
sense 'fissure', and refers to the volcanic fissure in the crater of
Orodruin in Mordor. See further under Doom and Mount Doom.

As for Mount Doom itself:

Mount Doom. This was (in Gondor) the Common Speech name of the volcano
Orodruin ('Mountain of red flame'), but was a translation of its other
Elvish name Amon Amarth ('Hill of Doom'), given to Sauron's
forge-mountain because it was linked in ancient and little-understood
prophecies with the 'doom', the final end of the Third Age, that it
was foretold would befall when Isildur's Bane was found again; see the
verses in I 259. Translate by sense: 'Mountain (of) doom' (in the
sense 'impending fate'). See Crack of Doom.

> Similar question: Why do they call it Dusseldorf?

Not a good counterexample. It probably had a well-known meaning some
hundred years ago. As nearly all place-names have (and Tolkien
simulates this process in LotR very well).

> What's a 'dussel' anyway?

A "Dussel" (no u-umlaut) is someone stupid. "Dusel haben" (also no
u-umlaut) means "to have undeserved luck". My dictionary says the
original meaning of "Dusel" was "vertigo, drunkenness", but that's no
longer in use. The two first expressions are. And of course it's also
possible that Duesseldorf (with u-umlaut in the modern form, BTW) is
derived from a different word.

> And it sure aint no 'dorf' neither!

But it was. OTOH, mountains don't grow. Villages do grow into cities.

- Dirk

Pete Gray

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Mar 11, 2005, 1:26:53 PM3/11/05
to
In article <39ckllF6...@individual.net>, the_sta...@fastmail.fm
says...

> "Pete Gray" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
> >Well, apart from the WK (and indeed including him), does it say anywhere
> >that the Nazgul can't be just killed?
>
> Tolkien carfully says in a Letter that the WK was "reduced to
> impotence", not "killed". (Letter 246, author's footnote)
>

I've always felt that Tolkien should have resisted the temptation to
fill in the gaps and tidy up the story. Still I should think being dead
would leave him pretty impotent (no stiff jokes please). Or does this
mean that it was Gollum that killed the WK?

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
Mar 11, 2005, 3:57:42 PM3/11/05
to
aelfwina <aelf...@cableone.net> wrote:
> "Stan Brown" <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote in message
> news:39ckrkF6...@individual.net...
>> "Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>>> [8] Is Frodo only wearing the Elven cloak at this point? Sam is
>>> still wearing his clothes, but Frodo seems to have only the cloak,
>>> elven rope belt and Ring. Very ascetic.
>>
>> I believe so, yes. He was so very weary that he had to jettison all
>> possible weight.
>
> There must have been *some* remnants or tatters left. To anticipate
> next week's chapter: "Even the orc-rags that you bore in the Black
> Land, Frodo, shall be preserved..."

Good point. Re-reading the bit in the 'Mount Doom' chapter more closely,
I see that Frodo flung away his orc-shield, helmet, heavy belt, sheathed
sword, and the "shreds of the black cloak". He kept the grey cloak (from
Lorien). Looking back to the point when Sam rescues him, we can see that
Frodo wears the following:

"Frodo looked in disgust at the contents, but there was nothing for it:
he had to put the things on, or go naked. There were long hairy breeches
of some unclean beast-fell, and a tunic of dirty leather. He drew them
on. Over the tunic went a coat of stout ring-mail, short for a
full-sized orc, too long for Frodo and heavy. About it he clasped a
belt, at which there hung a short sheath holding a broad-bladed
stabbing-sword. Sam had brought several orc-helmets. One of them fitted
Frodo well enough..." (The Tower of Cirith Ungol)

We know that Frodo picks up a shield later, and we also know that he
discards the mail-shirt (the one that Gollum later picks up). But we
never (AFAIK) hear of him discarding the hairy breeches and dirty tunic,
so presumably he is still wearing these along with the grey cloak, in
this chapter after he and Sam get rid of nearly everything else.

More interesting, of course, is the comment Frodo made:

"There, I'll be an orc no more, and I'll bear no weapon fair or foul.
Let them take me, if they will!"

Sam is a bit more pragmatic, keeping Sting just in case!

So what does that comment about not bearing any weapon say about Frodo?

Yuk Tang

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Mar 11, 2005, 9:04:04 PM3/11/05
to
Dirk Thierbach <dthie...@usenet.arcornews.de> wrote in
news:2005031111464...@dthierbach.news.arcor.de:
> the softrat <sof...@pobox.com> wrote:
>
>> Similar question: Why do they call it Dusseldorf?
>
> Not a good counterexample. It probably had a well-known meaning
> some hundred years ago. As nearly all place-names have (and
> Tolkien simulates this process in LotR very well).

Like Cologne used to be Colonia Agrippina.


--
Cheers, ymt.

Laurie Forbes

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Mar 11, 2005, 11:18:24 PM3/11/05
to

"Jon Hall" <jgc....@tiscali.co.uk> wrote in message
news:f36a99484...@tiscali.co.uk...
| In message <Xns9613CB3CBC0C2...@130.133.1.4>
| Yuk Tang <jim.l...@yahoo.com> wrote:

| > >>>That begs the question as to what happened to the Witch King.

We might ask that question.

| > Perhaps the physical form was killed by Eowyn and Merry, but the
| > spirit stayed in the Halls, exchanging plesantries with Feanor, until
| > the One was destroyed.
|
| The WK was human, so not the Halls....

You seem to know a lot about the Halls, Jon. What would account for this?


Stan Brown

unread,
Mar 11, 2005, 11:37:53 PM3/11/05
to
"AC" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:

>On Thu, 10 Mar 2005 23:34:11 -0500,
>Stan Brown <the_sta...@fastmail.fm> wrote:
>> "Christopher Kreuzer" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:
>>>[20] Were the Nazgul destroyed by the eruption or destruction of the
>>>Ring?
>>
>> I don't believe the destruction of the One Ring would have done it.
>>
>> When the One was destroyed, the other Fifteen (3 for Elves, 3
>> remaining Dwarf Rings, and 9 for Men) would have turned into
>> ordinary jewelry; but what was done with them would not disappear
>> (or Lorien and Rivendell would have crumbled to dust).
>
>I have to differ on this one, Stan. We do see at least one work that is
>undone; Bilbo.

I had Bilbo in mind. But (a) he wasn't a wraith and (b) it was the
One Ring that had preserved him.

The Nazgul were wraiths, not living men who had gone many years
without aging. And it was their own Nine Rings that had done it to
them, not the One.

Does anybody know anywhere where Tolkien addressed this issue? I
don't, so I'm just speculating.

Stan Brown

unread,
Mar 11, 2005, 11:41:23 PM3/11/05
to
"Yuk Tang" wrote in rec.arts.books.tolkien:

>What power would remain that would prevent them from following the
>desire of Men to leave for the next world?

I question whether the Nazgul had any such desire. Remember that
Morgoth and auron both worked to make Men terrified of death, nd
they very largely succeeded. Aragorn was notable exception, lying
down to die without fear when he felt it was his time.

But Men can't simply make their spirits leave their bodies by an
act of will, as Elves can. Men's spirits stay untill the bodies
wear out or are destroyed or greatly amaged. The Nazgul _had_ no
bodies to be destroyed, and they obviously could not die of old
age.

In reality they solves the problem nicely. :-) By riding into the
fires of Mount Doom, they freed their spirit to go to Mandos and
out of the world.

Georg Schönegger

unread,
Mar 12, 2005, 1:33:39 AM3/12/05
to
Dirk Thierbach schrieb:

>
> - Dirk


thank you, this is just what i was looking for. i didn't know about this
'guide to the names', seems very helpful and thorough.
it still seems to me slightly absurd that sauron (i suppose he knew
about the name 'mount doom' if not about 'ancient and little-understood
prophecies') didn't keep a better watch on the crack. then again, the
one-eyed may be king among the blind, but it's still only one eye.

georg