Chapter of the Week, BK 2, CH 4 - A Journey in the Dark

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Michelle J. Haines

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May 10, 2004, 11:06:01 AM5/10/04
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A Journey in the Dark

We return to Our Heros in the evening, after their retreat from
Caradhas. Gandalf gives everyone a shot of miruvor, they have some
dinner, and sit down to decide what to do next.

Gandalf comments that their choices are to go on, or to go back to
Rivendell. A bit of belaboring the obvious there, I think. What
would their third choice be? Flap their arms and fly to the moon?

I think we have an indication of the three hobbits not really
understanding the seriousness of their mission, when Sam, Merry, and
Pippin all look hopeful at the mention of returning to Rivendell.
Frodo obviously understands this isn't really an option, Aragorn and
Boromir are stone-faced, and we get no indication of Legolas' or
Gimli's thoughts.

Gandalf broaches the idea of Moria, while indicating that Aragorn
never liked this idea. Everyone but Gimli is afraid of the place,
and sinks further into depression. Gimli is emotionally galvanized
by the idea. Boromir broaches the idea of passing through the Gap of
Rohan and taking the Ring to Gondor -- one of the first of several
attempts to get the Ring to his home. He earns a snappish dressing
down from Gandalf, outlining the dangers from both Saruman and Sauron
they would encounter on such a lengthy journey. Gandalf also
indicates he thinks going through Moria will make the party
temporarily disappear, and throw the Enemy off the trail. He cites
the Battle of Five Armies as having significantly reduced the Orc
population, and that Moria may not be repopulated at this point. He
then throws in a reference to to Balin and Company, but from the
various reactions of the company and even Gandalf's late reference to
them, you certainly get the feeling that no one expects to find them
alive.

Aragorn reveals he's been through Moria, and really doesn't want to
go back. Gandalf says he's been through, and calls for a vote for
who will follow him this time. Boromir firmly refuses to entertain
the notion unless he's unanimously outvoted, with Legolas and the
hobbits already saying, "Uh-uh, no way!" The night breaks out in
howling as wolves prepare to attack, and Boromir immediate pipes up,
"How far to Moria?" *snicker*

The group camps on a hillside for protection for the night, inside a
circle of stones and with a fire. The hilltop is soon ringed by
wolves, with one seemingly in charge. Gandalf hurls a rather
spectacular threat at him, "Gandalf is here. Fly, if you value your
foul skin! I will shrivel you from tail to snout, if you come within
this ring."

The wolf, not taking any crap from any wizards, jumps at Gandalf, to
be immediately downed by an arrow from Legolas. I was always a
little disappointed by this, and felt it took some of the teeth out
of Gandalf's threat. I guess if the Elf can shoot the wolf, there's
not much point in shriveling him, but I always felt like if Gandalf
had shriveled the wolf, the rest might have fled a bit more
permanently.

The Wargs run off, but regroup to attack later in the night, and we
have a dramatic Warg fight [1]. In a scene somewhat reminiscent of
the one in The Hobbit, Gandalf lights the trees of the hilltop on
fire, Legolas' last arrow catches fire as it "plunged burning into
the heart of the great wolf-chieftian" and the rest of the wolves
skedaddle post-haste.

In the morning, the only signs of the fight are burned trees and
Legolas' UNDAMAGED arrows, except for the burned one. No bodies, no
footprints, and apparently no indication the arrows killed any
wolves, or some of them would have been damaged. This always
confused me. Are we to think the wolves dragged off their dead in
the middle of the night, even those that were killed in the middle of
the circle? And how or why would the wolves removed the arrows from
the bodies of their comrades first? Did the bodies evaporate into
the ether? Why are none of the arrows damaged? Was this somehow not
a real fight, but some illusion conjured up by Sauron or Saruman? Is
this ever explained?

Gandalf's only comment was he feared the wolves were not ordinary,
and after breakfast, off they go on their journey to Moria. Gandalf
states they must reach the Doors before nightfall, presumably afraid
of a renewed Warg attack. He is looking for the landmark of
Sirannon, the Gate-Stream, but concerned because he can't find it.
Gimli finally locates it, but the swift, noisy river has been reduced
to a trickle, but still gives them their bearings, so on they go.

I don't think I can improve upon Gandalf's description of the former
geography, so I'll simply reproduce it here:
"There is all that remains of the Stair Falls. If I remember right,
there was a flight of steps cut into the rock at their side, but the
main road wound away left and climbed with several loops up to the
level ground at the top. There used to be a shallow valley beyond
the falls right up to the Walls of Moria, and the Sirannon flowed
through it with the road beside it."

So, the stairs were a shortcut up the wall for those on foot, leading
up the cliff and then to the road in a direct route to the gates.
For those riding, or presumably for supplies, folks wearing heavy
armor, and others who couldn't get up a steep stair, there was a more
level but longer road that went around the cliff and then into the
valley. I think.

Gandalf, Gimli, and Frodo climb the stair to find the river dammed
and a lake blocking their path. In all the future references to the
water as a "pool", I always had something relatively small in mind.
It's not until recently, when the passage "had filled all the
valley" leaped out at me, when I finally got a better mental grasp on
just how big the body of water was.

Anyway, they can't get across the water, so must take the main road.
Given that Bill couldn't get up the stairs, the first indication of
leaving Bill behind is broached, since they can't take him into the
Mines anyway. Frodo's first thought is for Sam's upset.

The Company goes around the lake on the road, but must wade a small
tributary. Frodo shudders at the water on his feet: more
foreshadowing that something unhealthy lurks about, started with
Gandalf's earlier comment that the water looks unwholesome. In the
silence, an ominous *plop* is heard, followed by ripples on the lake
from an unknown source. This is almost a classic horror-movie moment
scene, but still manages to be chillingly disturbing.

They reach the gate, to be greeted by enormous Holly trees, planted
by the Elves of Hollin. That was during the Second Age, was it not?
Those are some OLD trees. Also, I don't have a good mental image of
what holly TREES might look like, since I've only really seen holly
bushes, although some pretty big ones.

Gandalf tells everyone to get ready to go into Moria while he
searches for the door, and Sam finally finds out the plan to leave
Bill at the door. He is understandably upset, but Gandalf blesses
the pony, and they have hope he'll find his way back to Rivendell.

Gandalf remembers the words to awaken the ithildin, and awakens the
signs on the door, in what is one of the most iconic LOTR visual
moments for me.[2] There is a bunch of conversation on how to get
the doors open, and lots of spell shouting, which takes many hours,
with Boromir throwing a stone into the pool in a fit of pique.
Gandalf finally solves the famous "friend" riddle, and door opens.
Just as Gandalf steps inside, our Horror Movie Moment comes to
fruition, and Frodo is sized by Something in the water. It's a
tentacle, which Sam frees him from by slashing it with a knife, but
twenty other arms come flailing out of the water! There is no really
dramatic rescue, just the Company fleeing into the Mines and Gandalf
trying to figure out how to close the doors.

He's saved the trouble, as the monster slams the doors closed,
uproots the ancient trees, and piles boulders in front of the doors,
closing them permanently. Can you feel the weight of the darkness,
and the pressing down of the earth as the creature traps them inside
the Mines?

What the creature is is never given more explanation that Gandalf's,
"Something has crept, or been driven out of the dark waters under the
mountains. There are older and fouler things that Orcs in the deep
places of the world." Foreshadowing for the Balrog, but also, what
IS the Watcher? Did it come out and dam the river itself to make a
place to live? How was it created? Do we fall back on the
explanation of it being a renegade Maia? Is it something bred by
Morgoth? What drove it out from under the mountains? The Balrog?
Perhaps most chilling to Gandalf, it seized Frodo first, perhaps
drawn by the power it feels in the Ring? Why did it wait so long to
attack the Company as they sat on the sides of the pool? Why did it
seal them into the Mines? And why did it never seal the Dwarves in?

After a meal and another bracing drink, the Company presses on into
Moria, with a brief description of complicated passages, arches,
stairways, tunnels, etc. During a whispered consultation of which
way to go, Aragorn throws out this tantalizing tidbit: "He is surer
of finding the way home in a blind night than the cats of Queen
Beruthiel." Nice little story hook, there.

Moria is not in good repair, and there are fissures and chasms in the
walls and floors, with the occasionally huge gap in the middle of
their road. Sam bemoans the lack of rope. But seriously, why on
EARTH would anyone have a three-and-a-half foot hobbit broad jump a
seven foot gap, with a slip meaning a fall to the death, when you
have to good-sized Men who could easily pick him up and TOSS him
over? Being absolutely terrified of heights, I had a significant
amount of empathy for Pippin, trembling on the edge of a gap while
summoning up the courage to jump it, when the obvious solution was
right there.[3]

The Ring starts to randomly feel heavy to Frodo, and he is certain of
feeling evil following and evil ahead. At this point, he's also
starting to hear the soft echo of Gollum's footsteps, who has found
the Company and is now trailing them.

They come to the crossroads where Gandalf does not know which way to
go, so they stop in at a guard room to take a rest while he decides.
Pippin drops his fateful stone down the guard room well.[4] Is this
what triggers the hunt for the Company through Moria? It's certainly
the implication, although it's possible they would have been
discovered anyway.

Gandalf makes his choice, and they journey on to find themselves in a
great chasm. Gandalf makes an interesting comment; "We are coming
now to the habitable parts, and I guess now that we are not far from
the eastern side." The habitable parts? So, the Dwarves lived on
the eastern side of Moria, and the western side was all mining and
work? The door out the western side must have been the back door, so
to speak?

The group stops for the night in the hall, with Gimli singing a song
about Khazad-dum and Durin, and Gandalf explaining the value of
mithril, and dropping the bomb that Bilbo's mithril shirt was worth
more than the entire Shire. During Frodo's watch, he has a deep
feeling of dread, but doesn't know why. At the end of his watch, he
finally sees the eyes of Gollum, but doesn't know what they are.
When he lies down to sleep, he continues to see them. Maybe a slight
telepathic connection with Gollum via the Ring?

They wake, and Gandalf decides to look about the hall before deciding
which way to go. They find a large square room, containing the tomb
of Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria. The effort to take back
Moria indeed failed, and the chapter ends in gloom and grieving.

[1] You could even call it a PJ style battle, except that he pushed
it off into the wrong time with different characters. I suppose the
fact that it's more of a displaced battle than a completely invented
one is why I never detested it the way many do.

[2] I was quite glad to see it so faithfully reproduced in the movie,
but I suppose they could hardly screw it up. :)

[3] Again, why I never minded -- and indeed liked -- the stair-
jumping scene in the movie. It visually filled in this little
logical gap for me, even if it opened others.

[4] While PJ overplayed the stone bit, some, I really liked this
scene in the movie, for Pippin's, "Oops!" wincing, Gandalf looking
madder with every sound, and all of the "Oh, CRAP!" looks on
Legolas', Boromir's, and Aragorn's faces. Nice scene.
--
Drift on a river, That flows through my arms
Drift as I'm singing to you
I see you smiling, So peaceful and calm
And holding you, I'm smiling, too
Here in my arms, Safe from all harm
Holding you, I'm smiling, too
-- For Xander [9/22/98 - 2/23/99]

AC

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May 10, 2004, 11:28:55 AM5/10/04
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On Mon, 10 May 2004 09:06:01 -0600,
Michelle J Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:

<snip>

> The Ring starts to randomly feel heavy to Frodo, and he is certain of
> feeling evil following and evil ahead. At this point, he's also
> starting to hear the soft echo of Gollum's footsteps, who has found
> the Company and is now trailing them.


I wonder here whether this effect is due to Gollum, the Balrog or something
else.

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

AC

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May 10, 2004, 1:23:23 PM5/10/04
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On Mon, 10 May 2004 09:06:01 -0600,
Michelle J Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:
>
> What the creature is is never given more explanation that Gandalf's,
> "Something has crept, or been driven out of the dark waters under the
> mountains. There are older and fouler things that Orcs in the deep
> places of the world." Foreshadowing for the Balrog, but also, what
> IS the Watcher? Did it come out and dam the river itself to make a
> place to live? How was it created? Do we fall back on the
> explanation of it being a renegade Maia? Is it something bred by
> Morgoth? What drove it out from under the mountains? The Balrog?
> Perhaps most chilling to Gandalf, it seized Frodo first, perhaps
> drawn by the power it feels in the Ring? Why did it wait so long to
> attack the Company as they sat on the sides of the pool? Why did it
> seal them into the Mines? And why did it never seal the Dwarves in?

A mention in the Silmarillion about creatures that Melkor had let loose upon
Middle Earth before the first rising of the Sun comes to mind (terrible
horned beasts or something like that). It is quite possible that this piece
of nastiness may very well have been one of those creatures, created to
terrorize the Elves when they first awakened. I can imagine that there
might be all sorts of horrors of that kind. If this was one of those nasty
creations of Melkor, then it could have either be doing the Balrog's bidding
or Sauron's by guarding the Hollin Gate.

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

AC

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May 10, 2004, 1:24:14 PM5/10/04
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This should be crossposted to AFT as well.

Michelle J. Haines

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May 10, 2004, 1:33:37 PM5/10/04
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In article <slrnc9velu.254....@alder.alberni.net>,
mightym...@hotmail.com says...

> This should be crossposted to AFT as well.

Oops, I forgot. Sorry.

Michelle
Flutist

The American

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May 10, 2004, 2:44:10 PM5/10/04
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"AC" <mightym...@hotmail.com> wrote in message
news:slrnc9vekb.254....@alder.alberni.net...

I always thought it was just a nasty "natural" creature that had risen up
from the depths of Moria.
Natural in the sense that it wasn't directed by Sauron or the Balrog.
Idhtbifom but wasn't there a comment later about there being tunnels in
Moria deeper than the Dwarves ever managed to go?
Or rather tunnels deeper than any tunnels made by the Dwarves of Moria.

Denizens of the previous bottom of the flat earth that managed to survive
the changing of the world?
Giant nasty worms?
I'm totally reaching on that one!

T.A.


Hope

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May 11, 2004, 7:35:46 AM5/11/04
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>Subject: Re: Chapter of the Week, BK 2, CH 4 - A Journey in the Dark
>From: "The American" a_real_...@hotspammail.com
>Date: 10/05/2004 19:44 GMT Daylight Time
>Message-id: <N_udnf04Bpj...@conversent.net>

>I always thought it was just a nasty "natural" creature that had risen up
>from the depths of Moria.
>Natural in the sense that it wasn't directed by Sauron or the Balrog.
>Idhtbifom but wasn't there a comment later about there being tunnels in
>Moria deeper than the Dwarves ever managed to go?
>Or rather tunnels deeper than any tunnels made by the Dwarves of Moria.
>
>Denizens of the previous bottom of the flat earth that managed to survive
>the changing of the world?
>Giant nasty worms?
>I'm totally reaching on that one!
>

Tolkien tipping the hat to HP Lovecraft? I always thought the watcher was very
Mythosian.


Glenn Holliday

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May 10, 2004, 7:07:52 PM5/10/04
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"Michelle J. Haines" wrote:
>
> In the morning, the only signs of the fight are burned trees and
> Legolas' UNDAMAGED arrows, except for the burned one. No bodies, no
> footprints, and apparently no indication the arrows killed any
> wolves, or some of them would have been damaged. This always
> confused me. Are we to think the wolves dragged off their dead in
> the middle of the night, even those that were killed in the middle of
> the circle? And how or why would the wolves removed the arrows from
> the bodies of their comrades first? Did the bodies evaporate into
> the ether? Why are none of the arrows damaged? Was this somehow not
> a real fight, but some illusion conjured up by Sauron or Saruman? Is
> this ever explained?

Not that I know of. It feels like a loose end to me.

We know Wargs from other works, and it's clear they are
physical and mortal. Yet the undamaged arrows clearly hints
that they arrows had no physical effect. But if the Wargs
were spirit beings or illusions, and therefore unhurt in the battle,
why did they lose?

If they were illusions, then Saruman could not produce the
illusion that they killed off the Fellowship. (Reminds me
of Mad Magazine's take on Mandrake the Magician:
"I can hypnotize you into believing that I have fixed the car,
and I can even hypnotize myself into believing that I have
fixed the car, but how can I convince the car that it is fixed?")

So if Saruman produced an illusory battle, it was solely
for the purpose of harrassing the Fellowship and robbing
them of rest. But we have no indication this was one of
Saruman's abilities (or Sauron's, for that matter).
This type of magic is found in Irish fairy stories, but
has no precedence in Tolkien. Besides, I would expect
Gandalf to recognize a situation like that. His comment
that he feared the wolves were not ordinary might be a clue
that something was wrong. But Gandalf certainly seems
to think the Wargs are real, even if extraordinary.

I haven't found a satisfactory answer.

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


Glenn Holliday

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May 10, 2004, 7:15:09 PM5/10/04
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"Michelle J. Haines" wrote:
>
> They reach the gate, to be greeted by enormous Holly trees, planted
> by the Elves of Hollin. That was during the Second Age, was it not?
> Those are some OLD trees. Also, I don't have a good mental image of
> what holly TREES might look like, since I've only really seen holly
> bushes, although some pretty big ones.

They're impressive. We have a holly wood about a mile from my
house. They've been undisturbed for a century or so. They
grow to be full-sized trees, as tall as the white oaks in our area,
I think our tallest pines get taller than our tallest oaks
or hollies. I haven't actually measured them.
They are as big around as the white oaks, though not as
big around as the willow oaks (some of those get enormous
girth here). Probably a little less than 4 feet in diameter.
Smooth barked. The lowest branches are 6 feet or so above
the ground. They grow close together, so it's pretty dense
and dark under the hollies.

Walking through the holly wood is like walking through any
other forest, except that the leaf mulch underfoot is
prickly holly leaves. You don't want to walk through
them barefoot.

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


Christopher Kreuzer

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May 11, 2004, 6:36:52 PM5/11/04
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Glenn Holliday <holl...@acm.org> wrote:

> They're impressive. We have a holly wood about a mile from my

You live in Hollywood??

Oh. My mistake...

Shanahan

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May 11, 2004, 11:01:26 PM5/11/04
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> Glenn Holliday wrote:
>> "Michelle J. Haines" wrote:
>> In the morning, the only signs of the fight are burned trees
>> and Legolas' UNDAMAGED arrows, except for the burned one. No
>> bodies, no footprints, and apparently no indication the arrows
>> killed any wolves, or some of them would have been damaged.
>> This always confused me. Are we to think the wolves dragged
>> off their dead in the middle of the night, even those that
>> were killed in the middle of the circle? And how or why would
>> the wolves removed the arrows from the bodies of their
>> comrades first? Did the bodies evaporate into the ether? Why
>> are none of the arrows damaged? Was this somehow not a real
>> fight, but some illusion conjured up by Sauron or Saruman? Is
>> this ever explained?
>
> Not that I know of. It feels like a loose end to me.
> We know Wargs from other works, and it's clear they are
> physical and mortal. Yet the undamaged arrows clearly hints
> that they arrows had no physical effect. But if the Wargs
> were spirit beings or illusions, and therefore unhurt in the
> battle, why did they lose?

I think they were illusions, and that it was Gandalf's magical
fire that destroyed them, one spell breaking another.

> If they were illusions, then Saruman could not produce the
> illusion that they killed off the Fellowship.

Yah, this is a deal-breaker. (speculation on) Perhaps they were
magically created beings, given solid form, but just particles
held together and motivated by a spell. The Warg chieftain could
have been a real Warg, inhabited by an evil spirit. Or perhaps
they were illusory, but could only hurt you if you believed in
them, if they frightened you enough. (Suddenly I'm flashing back
to the Star Trek TOS episode where they're at the shootout at the
OK Corral...)

- Ciaran S.

Christopher Kreuzer

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May 12, 2004, 7:46:11 PM5/12/04
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> Michelle J. Haines wrote:
>
>> A Journey in the Dark

>> Gandalf also


>> indicates he thinks going through Moria will make the party
>> temporarily disappear, and throw the Enemy off the trail.

Which is a point that many people miss. Including Celeborn. I get the
impression that Gandalf thinks, especially from the shadow passing
overhead recently, and the flights of crebain, and the Caradhras
episode, that the Company have been marked and will soon be attacked. As
indeed happens.

On the other hand, this makes me wonder why they took so long to leave
Rivendell (nearly 2 months). They had to be ready for the quest, but it
must have been a hard decision to decide when to actually leave. It is
fairly impressive that they got as far as they did without being
discovered by spies of Saruman or Sauron.

>> Aragorn reveals he's been through Moria, and really doesn't want to
>> go back.

He also warns Gandalf: "If you pass the doors of Moria, beware!"

Is this Aragorn being prophetic, or is he basing his feelings on some
actual knowledge, maybe from his previous journey into Moria?

>> The night breaks out in howling as wolves prepare to attack, and
>> Boromir immediate pipes up, "How far to Moria?" *snicker*

:-)

Were the wargs under Sauron's control? I've always assumed the crebain
were Saruman's spies, as Aragorn says they were from Dunland, but I've
never been entirely sure about the wargs.

Oh, wait. Gandalf says "Hound of Sauron". Silly me.

>> The group camps on a hillside for protection for the night, inside a
>> circle of stones and with a fire.

Does anyone think this is some remnant of Eregion's buildings? It
reminds me very slightly of the standing stones on the Barrow-downs, but
maybe it is just the remnant of a watchtower, like on Weathertop.

>> The wolf, not taking any crap from any wizards, jumps at Gandalf, to
>> be immediately downed by an arrow from Legolas. I was always a
>> little disappointed by this, and felt it took some of the teeth out
>> of Gandalf's threat.

For me, it increased my respect for Legolas. His character is developing
slowly but surely. We have already had the comments in the snow, and the
comments about the long-lost Elves of Eregion.

>> Gandalf lights the trees of the hilltop on
>> fire, Legolas' last arrow catches fire as it "plunged burning into
>> the heart of the great wolf-chieftian" and the rest of the wolves
>> skedaddle post-haste.

:-)

We covered the meaning of the first part of Gandalf's incantation in the
last chapter (Fire for the saving of us), but what does 'Naur dan i
ngaurhoth' mean? Naur is fire, and gaurhoth sounds familiar, but I can't
place it.

Ah! Got it!! Tol-in-Gaurhoth: Isle of Werewolves (Silm, 18). Former
residence of one Sauron. Slightly more salubrious than Dol Guldur, but
maybe not as impressive as Barad-dur.

BTW, what is the difference between these 'magical' wargs and the wild
wolves that were said to be hunting in the valleys of the Anduin
(reported by Elrond's scouts). Aragorn says the wargs have come west of
the mountains, so maybe they are the same, but Elrond's scouts didn't
properly identify them as wargs. But then why is Aragorn so sure they
are wargs? Maybe he meant non-magical wargs, whatever those might be?

>> In the morning, the only signs of the fight are burned trees and
>> Legolas' UNDAMAGED arrows, except for the burned one. No bodies, no
>> footprints, and apparently no indication the arrows killed any
>> wolves, or some of them would have been damaged.

I always assumed the arrows did their damage without getting damaged.
And I ascribed the disappearance of the bodies to 'magic'. I never
really thought about it further and just accepted it.

[moving on to the Sirannon]

>> It's not until recently, when the passage "had filled all the
>> valley" leaped out at me, when I finally got a better mental grasp on
>> just how big the body of water was.

A bit further on we hear that the lake is no more than "two of three
furlongs [across] at the widest point. How far it stretched away
southwards they could not see..."

First, how far is 2-3 furlongs? Not too much I'd guess.

To fill in the visual picture again, remember that the Fellowship
approached this lake from the west, heading east towards the Cliffs of
Moria. The impression I get is that the valley that is filled with the
long narrow lake runs from north-south, bat that Sirannon normally
flowed east-west over the cliff that formed the western side of the
valley (the Misty Mountains form the eastern side). They climb this
cliff, but find the lake in their way.

Then they go by the road, and apparently emerge on top of the cliff at a
point further north than the Fall Stairs, but still with a bit of the
northernmost edge of the lake to go round. They then, go round this
northern end and end up on the other side of the lake by the Cliffs of
Moria.

Remember the comments later about how the water was often higher than
this, and actually prevented anyone getting into or out of Moria, and
that, luckily for the Fellowship, the Watcher-in-the-Water was away down
at the south end which was a long way away as we have just been told.

>> In the silence, an ominous *plop* is heard, followed by ripples on
the lake
>> from an unknown source. This is almost a classic horror-movie moment
>> scene, but still manages to be chillingly disturbing.

Can this be the Watcher-in-the-Water? If so, why does it wait and not
attack now? Is it actually alerted by the crossing of the stream, or by
something else? Did the Ring wake it up?

>> They reach the gate, to be greeted by enormous Holly trees, planted
>> by the Elves of Hollin. That was during the Second Age, was it not?
>> Those are some OLD trees. Also, I don't have a good mental image of
>> what holly TREES might look like, since I've only really seen holly
>> bushes, although some pretty big ones.

Just before this point we also read about some of the dead holly trees.
These show where the water reached right up to the doors, but not far
enough to kill the two at the doors.

>> Gandalf tells everyone to get ready to go into Moria while he
>> searches for the door, and Sam finally finds out the plan to leave
>> Bill at the door. He is understandably upset, but Gandalf blesses
>> the pony, and they have hope he'll find his way back to Rivendell.
>>
>> Gandalf remembers the words to awaken the ithildin, and awakens the
>> signs on the door, in what is one of the most iconic LOTR visual
>> moments for me.

Definitely. And there is reason they got it right in the film. This
chapter contains two illustrations. One of the ithildin markings on the
Doors of Moria, and one of the markings on Balin's tomb. I wish Tolkien
had done more of those. :-(

And here we get lots of nice Silmarillion references again. :-)

The 'Tree of the High Elves' and the 'Star of the House of Feanor'. I
like the way that Gimli identifies the emblems of Durin, Legolas knows
enough to recognise the Tree of the High Elves (though there are two on
the illustration), while Gandalf recognises the ancient star symbol of
the House of Feanor.

Looking at the illustration, the arch has the writing translated
underneath, but does anyone know what the three other runic symbols
mean? There is one at upper left, one at upper right, and one at lower
centre.

>> There is a bunch of conversation on how to get
>> the doors open

With some nice humour. Gandalf trouncing Boromir and Pippin with barbed
comments on their foolish questions!

>> and lots of spell shouting, which takes many hours,

Hours? Are you sure?

Anyone able to translate Gandalf's first attempt (edro = open)?

Annon edhellen, edro hi ammen!
Fennas nogothrim, lasto beth lammen!

>> with Boromir throwing a stone into the pool in a fit of pique.

Did this attract the Watcher-in-the-water?

>> Frodo is sized by Something in the water. It's a
>> tentacle, which Sam frees him from by slashing it with a knife, but
>> twenty other arms come flailing out of the water!

There is a horrible stench as well! I find it difficult to imagine what
the Watcher-in-the-Water should look like, and have never been happy
with the various artistic interpretations I have seen.

>> Can you feel the weight of the darkness,
>> and the pressing down of the earth as the creature traps them inside
>> the Mines?

I had trouble really appreciating this until I was actually in a mine
one day. Going through narrow tunnels with dim lights, or turning off
the torches to see the glowing phosphoresence, I discovered that little
bit of claustrophobia that we all have. That fear of being buried alive.
The darkness closing in around you. With a palpable feeling of weight,
as you say.

>> What the creature is is never given more explanation that Gandalf's,
>> "Something has crept, or been driven out of the dark waters under the

>> mountains. There are older and fouler things than Orcs in the deep


>> places of the world." Foreshadowing for the Balrog, but also, what
>> IS the Watcher? Did it come out and dam the river itself to make a
>> place to live? How was it created? Do we fall back on the
>> explanation of it being a renegade Maia? Is it something bred by
>> Morgoth? What drove it out from under the mountains? The Balrog?
>> Perhaps most chilling to Gandalf, it seized Frodo first, perhaps
>> drawn by the power it feels in the Ring? Why did it wait so long to
>> attack the Company as they sat on the sides of the pool? Why did it
>> seal them into the Mines? And why did it never seal the Dwarves in?

:-0 That is 11 questions in a row!!

I just thought of it as an unexplained 'monster'. Gandalf's comment was
quite enough for me, along with his later comments about his fight with
the Balrog, something about "the world is gnawed by nameless things". I
am generally quite happy with this level of explanation, leaving things
mysteriously and horrifyingly uncertain.

As for it waiting so long, Gandalf makes a comment later that it was
sleeping. I supect that it was the "water-aspect" of the Balrog (the
Balrog being the fire aspect). And, as we all know, Gandalf and the
Balrog were old friends, so Gandalf knew that the Watcher-in-the-Water
(aka the Balrog) was sleeping, and that they had arranged for her to
seal Gandalf and the Fellowship in the Mines of Moria. Then there was a
bit of friendly fighting, and then Gandalf and the Balrog went off down
that chasm for their prearranged 'rendez-vous'!! Whips and all.

Just a crackpot theory.

<snip Moria bit>

I do have some comments on the Moria bit, but I'll have to get back to
that another time. It is getting late here.

<snip four book/film comments>

[I agreed with them, but I am a film snob. In these threads anyway!]

About the end of the chapter, it is a natural point to end the chapter,
but it is not a natural resting point for the story. You almost have to
carry on reading at that point. :-)

Christopher

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

Emma Pease

unread,
May 12, 2004, 9:21:14 PM5/12/04
to
In article <7Hyoc.2278$ZK4.18...@news-text.cableinet.net>,

Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>> Michelle J. Haines wrote:
>>
>>> A Journey in the Dark

[snip]

> A bit further on we hear that the lake is no more than "two of three
> furlongs [across] at the widest point. How far it stretched away
> southwards they could not see..."
>
> First, how far is 2-3 furlongs? Not too much I'd guess.

8 furlongs = 1 mile

so about a quarter to a third of a mile (probably a bit over half a
kilometer)

I think the only area that still uses furlongs is horse racing.

[snip]


>>> There is a bunch of conversation on how to get
>>> the doors open
>
> With some nice humour. Gandalf trouncing Boromir and Pippin with barbed
> comments on their foolish questions!

But it is Merry who tries to figure out the deeper meaning first. I
think this is showing Merry to be a bit of a scholar.

>>> and lots of spell shouting, which takes many hours,
>
> Hours? Are you sure?
>
> Anyone able to translate Gandalf's first attempt (edro = open)?
>
> Annon edhellen, edro hi ammen!
> Fennas nogothrim, lasto beth lammen!

Annon = door
nogothrim = dwarves
lasto beth lammen! = listen to the words of my tongue


>>> with Boromir throwing a stone into the pool in a fit of pique.
>
> Did this attract the Watcher-in-the-water?
>
>>> Frodo is sized by Something in the water. It's a
>>> tentacle, which Sam frees him from by slashing it with a knife, but
>>> twenty other arms come flailing out of the water!
>
> There is a horrible stench as well! I find it difficult to imagine what
> the Watcher-in-the-Water should look like, and have never been happy
> with the various artistic interpretations I have seen.

I've always thought of it as a kraken but the company only sees the
tentacles before they flee inside.

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

Dirk Thierbach

unread,
May 12, 2004, 8:09:37 AM5/12/04
to
Glenn Holliday <holl...@acm.org> wrote:
> "Michelle J. Haines" wrote:

>> In the morning, the only signs of the fight are burned trees and

>> Legolas' UNDAMAGED arrows, except for the burned one. [...] Did the


>> bodies evaporate into the ether?

That's how I interpreted it.

> If they were illusions, then Saruman could not produce the
> illusion that they killed off the Fellowship.

I think the point of such "horror-story" style illusions is that
while they're not real, their effect on the victim *is* real:
You get real wounds from those imagined attacks, and you can really
die.

- Dirk

Odysseus

unread,
May 13, 2004, 7:23:51 AM5/13/04
to
Emma Pease wrote:
>
> In article <7Hyoc.2278$ZK4.18...@news-text.cableinet.net>,
> Christopher Kreuzer wrote:

[snip]

> > A bit further on we hear that the lake is no more than "two of three
> > furlongs [across] at the widest point. How far it stretched away
> > southwards they could not see..."
> >
> > First, how far is 2-3 furlongs? Not too much I'd guess.
>
> 8 furlongs = 1 mile
>
> so about a quarter to a third of a mile (probably a bit over half a
> kilometer)
>

Right about .5 km: 440-660 yds. = 400-600 m approx.

--
Odysseus

Kristian Damm Jensen

unread,
May 13, 2004, 7:34:07 AM5/13/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message news:<7Hyoc.2278$ZK4.18...@news-text.cableinet.net>...

(With a lot of unmarked snipping.)

> > Michelle J. Haines wrote:
> >
> >> A Journey in the Dark

> >> In the silence, an ominous *plop* is heard, followed by ripples on


> the lake
> >> from an unknown source. This is almost a classic horror-movie moment
> >> scene, but still manages to be chillingly disturbing.
>
> Can this be the Watcher-in-the-Water? If so, why does it wait and not
> attack now? Is it actually alerted by the crossing of the stream, or by
> something else? Did the Ring wake it up?

It is sleeping. It was woken by Boromirs stone.

> Definitely. And there is reason they got it right in the film. This
> chapter contains two illustrations. One of the ithildin markings on the
> Doors of Moria, and one of the markings on Balin's tomb. I wish Tolkien
> had done more of those. :-(
>
> And here we get lots of nice Silmarillion references again. :-)
>
> The 'Tree of the High Elves' and the 'Star of the House of Feanor'. I
> like the way that Gimli identifies the emblems of Durin, Legolas knows
> enough to recognise the Tree of the High Elves (though there are two on
> the illustration), while Gandalf recognises the ancient star symbol of
> the House of Feanor.
>
> Looking at the illustration, the arch has the writing translated
> underneath, but does anyone know what the three other runic symbols
> mean? There is one at upper left, one at upper right, and one at lower
> centre.

Refer to the appendices. It seems they are the letters numbered 3, 21
and 5 respectively, i.e. ch, r, d. Could we guess "Celebrimbor",
"eRegion", "Durin"?

> >> and lots of spell shouting, which takes many hours,
>
> Hours? Are you sure?

Long enough to make Boromir restless and irritated anyway.


Kristian

gp.skinner

unread,
May 13, 2004, 9:41:18 AM5/13/04
to
> > >> and lots of spell shouting, which takes many hours,
> > Hours? Are you sure?
> Long enough to make Boromir restless and irritated anyway.

Half an hour then? They are trapped between the wall and the water with
wolves on the prowl in the distance, he was probably thinking hurry up you
old fool and get the door open. I'd think they were all living on their
nerves after the previous nights attack so being a bit restless and
irritated would not take long to achieve.

Graeme

Michelle J. Haines

unread,
May 13, 2004, 10:49:00 AM5/13/04
to
In article <7Hyoc.2278$ZK4.18...@news-text.cableinet.net>,
spam...@blueyonder.co.uk says...

> <snip four book/film comments>
>
> [I agreed with them, but I am a film snob. In these threads anyway!]

That's why I put them at the end as footnotes, so those who don't
mind can have them, and those that don't can skip them easily. :)

Michelle
Flutist

John Jones

unread,
May 12, 2004, 2:13:51 PM5/12/04
to
"Glenn Holliday" <holl...@acm.org> wrote in message
news:40A00B44...@acm.org...

> "Michelle J. Haines" wrote:
> >
> > In the morning, the only signs of the fight are burned trees and
> > Legolas' UNDAMAGED arrows, except for the burned one. No bodies, no
> > footprints, and apparently no indication the arrows killed any
> > wolves, or some of them would have been damaged. This always
> > confused me.
>
> We know Wargs from other works, and it's clear they are
> physical and mortal. Yet the undamaged arrows clearly hints
> that they arrows had no physical effect.

The arrows would not necessarily have been damaged by killing the wargs,
only if the warg had rolled over on to the arrow, for example.

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
May 13, 2004, 4:42:18 PM5/13/04
to
Kristian Damm Jensen <da...@ofir.dk> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message
> news:<7Hyoc.2278$ZK4.18...@news-text.cableinet.net>...
>
> (With a lot of unmarked snipping.)

Sorry. They fell on the floor. Here you go:

<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>
<snip>

Troels Forchhammer

unread,
May 13, 2004, 5:47:21 PM5/13/04
to
In message <news:7Hyoc.2278$ZK4.18...@news-text.cableinet.net>
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
>
>> Michelle J. Haines wrote:
>>
>>> A Journey in the Dark

<snip>

>>> Aragorn reveals he's been through Moria, and really doesn't want
>>> to go back.

I have often wondered about the occasion - why did he enter Moria and
when did he do it?

Does anyone know if Tolkien ever wrote about this?



> He also warns Gandalf: "If you pass the doors of Moria, beware!"
>
> Is this Aragorn being prophetic, or is he basing his feelings on
> some actual knowledge, maybe from his previous journey into Moria?

Since both he and Gandalf have been through Moria earlier, I'd guess
that it is actual foresight. That Aragorn was thus foresighted is
stated explicitly in appendix A (the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen):

"I see," said Aragorn, "that I have turned my eyes to a
treasure no less dear than the treasure of Thingol that
Beren once desired. Such is my fate." Then suddenly the
foresight of his kindred came to him, and he said: "But
lo! Master Elrond, the years of your abiding run short at
last, and the choice must soon be laid on your children,
to part either with you or with Middle-earth."

<snip>



>>> The group camps on a hillside for protection for the night,
>>> inside a circle of stones and with a fire.
>
> Does anyone think this is some remnant of Eregion's buildings? It
> reminds me very slightly of the standing stones on the
> Barrow-downs, but maybe it is just the remnant of a watchtower,
> like on Weathertop.

I can't say that I've ever thought about it, but now that you put it on
my mind ;-)

"... about which lay a broken circle of boulder stones."

I'm not entirely sure if "boulder stones" could have been used in
building - my dictionary gives two possible translations to Danish, one
of which is also used for the very roughly shaped (or carefully
selected) stones (granite mostly) used for the foundation of many very
old buildings in Denmark (notably churches), while I find it difficult
to believe that the other could be used as building material.

Accepting for the moment the translation that lends itself well to
building, I'd say that the broken circle of stones does sound like the
last remnant of the ruin after an old tower (or other round
construction). Towers seem to be quite popular in Middle-earth (from
Tirion to Barad-dűr we see towers everywhere).

> For me, it increased my respect for Legolas. His character is
> developing slowly but surely. We have already had the comments in
> the snow, and the comments about the long-lost Elves of Eregion.

Legolas' comment refers to the stones, "/deep they delved us, fair they
wrought us, high they builded us;/" how does that relate to the "broken
circle of boulder stones" above?

<snip>

>>> In the morning, the only signs of the fight are burned trees and
>>> Legolas' UNDAMAGED arrows, except for the burned one. No
>>> bodies, no footprints, and apparently no indication the arrows
>>> killed any wolves, or some of them would have been damaged.
>
> I always assumed the arrows did their damage without getting
> damaged.

Indeed. Arrows don't usually break just by hitting an animal, and re-
using spent arrows was quite common (and still is, though of course
most hunting arrows today have metal shafts, and arrows for war are not
common anymore). At Helm's Deep Legolas use spent arrows, "... though
now I must grope for spent arrows; all mine are gone."

It is, perhaps, a bit surprising that none of the wargs fell in such a
way that the shaft broke, but most of them would probably be buried
quite deep in the body (if they didn't go right through).

The arrows did, however, kill the wargs, and we hear that Boromir hewed
the head of one, so I'm convinced that the wargs were corporeal at the
attack (they also had both throat and heart).

> And I ascribed the disappearance of the bodies to 'magic'. I never
> really thought about it further and just accepted it.

It does seem that the bodies somehow evaporate or disintegrate. I
haven't thought more about it either - just accepted that these were,
as Gandalf notes, "no ordinary wolves."

<snip>

>>> In the silence, an ominous *plop* is heard, followed by ripples
>>> on the lake from an unknown source.
>

> Can this be the Watcher-in-the-Water?

I'd almost say that it has to be.

> If so, why does it wait and not attack now?

Gimli speculates that the Watcher was "sleeping down at the southern
end." Possibly the "swish followed by a plop" is the Watcher wakening,
but, as it happened as Sam was leading Bill "up on to the dry ground on
the far side" it didn't waken quickly enough to know exactly where they
were.

> Is it actually alerted by the crossing of the stream, or by
> something else? Did the Ring wake it up?

Good question. Venturing a speculative guess, I'd say that it was
wakened by the crossing and only felt the Ring whan it was awake. The
Ring by itself ought, I think, to have awakened it earlier.

>>> This is almost a classic horror-movie moment scene, but still
>>> manages to be chillingly disturbing.

Tolkien was not above using such effects, though I suppose that he and
the horror films have them from the same sources. It was mentioned also
during the discussion of I,8 'Fog on the Barrow-Downs' and I'd also put
Baldor's skeleton and the whispers of the dead in V,2 'The Passing of
the Grey Company' among these examples, though the written description,
playing on Gimli's fears, is more effectful for me than the
visualisation in the film.

<snip>

> Looking at the illustration, the arch has the writing translated
> underneath, but does anyone know what the three other runic
> symbols mean? There is one at upper left, one at upper right, and
> one at lower centre.

A footnote
" The inscription on the West-gate of Moria gives an example
of a mode, used for the spelling of Sindarin, in which Grade
6 represented the simple nasals; but Grade 5 represented the
double or long nasals much used in Sindarin: 17 = nn, but
21 = n."

Noldor? Narvi?
If, as Kristian guesses, the upper right (5 = 'ch') is for Celebrimbor,
then the natural guess would, IMO, be "Narvi", which, to me, would make
3 = 'd' for Durin even more sensible, as the three individual letters
would then represent all three personal names in the full text.

>>> with Boromir throwing a stone into the pool in a fit of pique.
>
> Did this attract the Watcher-in-the-water?

Frodo is at least afraid that it disturbs something. I have always
assumed that Boromir's stone did attract the (now fully awake) Watcher.

"The stone vanished with a soft slap; but at the same instant
there was a swish and a bubble. Great rippling rings formed
on the surface out beyond where the stone had fallen, and
they moved slowly towards the foot of the cliff."

I think that this means that the stone did attract the Watcher's
attention.

> There is a horrible stench as well! I find it difficult to imagine
> what the Watcher-in-the-Water should look like, and have never
> been happy with the various artistic interpretations I have seen.

The real beauty of it is that we, and supposedly the party as well,
never see anything but the tentacles. There is no gaping moth, no beak
or forest of sharp teeth or any other classic horror descriptions -
just a lot of tentacles "all guided by one purpose."

As with other of these horrifying moments Tolkien creates the suspense
by letting us inside the mind of the story-internal narrator (here it's
Frodo and Sam, and on the Paths of the Dead it's Gimli). An option
which (unfortunately) isn't available to the same effect in a painting
or a film.



>>> Can you feel the weight of the darkness, and the pressing down
>>> of the earth as the creature traps them inside the Mines?
>

[...]


> That fear of being buried alive. The darkness closing in around
> you. With a palpable feeling of weight, as you say.

I've never been in a mine or cave without proper lighting, but even
then, with the roof closing in above you and side passages leading from
light to darkness, and further into complete blackness, one can still
get that feeling of an immeasurable weight pressing one down.

<snipping and rearranging>

>>> what IS the Watcher? [...] How was it created? Do we fall back


>>> on the explanation of it being a renegade Maia? Is it something
>>> bred by Morgoth?
>

> I just thought of it as an unexplained 'monster'.

[...]


> leaving things mysteriously and horrifyingly uncertain.

Why not see if we can do some constructive speculation ;-)

We know next to nothing about the Watcher, which of course makes it
difficult. It was apparently attracted to the Ring, which might suggest
that it has some power of its own - there is, IIRC, no suggestion that
normal animals were affected by the presence of the Ring, and to
"servants of Mordor" it was "a hidden power, a cowing menace ..." as
Sam learned in the tower of Cirith Ungol.

That leaves us with monsters of the Shelob kind and incarnate spirits
(that is - could Morgoth have bred something akin to the fell beasts
the Nazgűl ride in the air, just far more powerful?)

I'm not going to choose or state a preference among those (because I
have no preference), but I do think that this covers the possibilities.
Whatever it was, however, I suspect that it was indeed connected with
Morgoth - bred by him or incarnated by him or at hiw wish.

>>> Did it come out and dam the river itself to make a place to

>>> live? What drove it out from under the mountains? The
>>> Balrog?

That is my guess, though I can't explain why.

In addition to being driven out by some foe, it might also have come
out in search for prey.

>>> Perhaps most chilling to Gandalf, it seized Frodo first, perhaps
>>> drawn by the power it feels in the Ring?

I think that that is the inference we're supposed to make (it is
another of these rare insights into Gandalf's thoughts - did he tell
this to Frodo later or how did this, within the narrative conceit of
the book, come about?)

>>> Why did it wait so long to attack the Company as they sat on the
>>> sides of the pool? Why did it seal them into the Mines? And
>>> why did it never seal the Dwarves in?
>

> As for it waiting so long, Gandalf makes a comment later that it
> was sleeping.

Pure idle speculation:
If it awoke when the were crossing the pool, as suggested above, it
might have been unaware of what had awoken it until Boromir tossed the
stone into the pool. At that point it pinpointed the party, and drawing
nearer it felt the power of the Ring.

> I supect that it was the "water-aspect" of the Balrog (the Balrog
> being the fire aspect).

I think the implication is that it was Pippin's stone in the well that
alerted the Orcs and the Balrog - why else were they not attacked much
earlier during their journey through Moria?

> And, as we all know, Gandalf and the Balrog were old friends,

???
What's this - Gandalf express something that I take as surprise when he
learned that his foe was a Balrog.

<snip>

--
Troels Forchhammer
Valid mail is <t.forch(a)mail.dk>

"What're quantum mechanics?"
"I don't know. People who repair quantums, I suppose."
- (Terry Pratchett, Eric)

Andy Cooke

unread,
May 13, 2004, 5:48:29 PM5/13/04
to
Christopher Kreuzer wrote:
>>Michelle J. Haines wrote:
>>
>>

[snip]


>
>>>The group camps on a hillside for protection for the night, inside a
>>>circle of stones and with a fire.
>
>
> Does anyone think this is some remnant of Eregion's buildings? It
> reminds me very slightly of the standing stones on the Barrow-downs, but
> maybe it is just the remnant of a watchtower, like on Weathertop.

Hadn't thought of that - makes sense. Also, it adds to the feeling of
the age and loss of the country of Eregion.

[snip]

>
> [moving on to the Sirannon]
>
>
>>>It's not until recently, when the passage "had filled all the
>>>valley" leaped out at me, when I finally got a better mental grasp on
>>>just how big the body of water was.
>
>
> A bit further on we hear that the lake is no more than "two of three
> furlongs [across] at the widest point. How far it stretched away
> southwards they could not see..."
>
> First, how far is 2-3 furlongs? Not too much I'd guess.

About a quarter of a mile.

(12 inches to a foot.
3 feet to a yard
22 yards to a chain
10 chains to a furlong
8 furlongs to a mile
3 miles to a league.)

[snip]


>
> Anyone able to translate Gandalf's first attempt (edro = open)?
>
> Annon edhellen, edro hi ammen!
> Fennas nogothrim, lasto beth lammen!

I got most of the way (Gate of the Elves, open [something something]/
[threshold?] of the Dwarf-folk, listen to the word of my tongue) before
I cheated and looked on Ardalambion
( http://www.uib.no/People/hnohf/sindarin.htm )

"Elvish gate open now for us; doorway of the Dwarf-folk listen to the
word of my tongue"

>>>with Boromir throwing a stone into the pool in a fit of pique.
>
>
> Did this attract the Watcher-in-the-water?
>

I've always assumed so.

[snip]

>
>>>Can you feel the weight of the darkness,
>>>and the pressing down of the earth as the creature traps them inside
>>>the Mines?
>
>
> I had trouble really appreciating this until I was actually in a mine
> one day. Going through narrow tunnels with dim lights, or turning off
> the torches to see the glowing phosphoresence, I discovered that little
> bit of claustrophobia that we all have. That fear of being buried alive.
> The darkness closing in around you. With a palpable feeling of weight,
> as you say.
>

The same here - except that mine was a cave system.

I'd never before appreciated having a visible level surface without huge
holes on which to walk ...

[snip]

--
Andy Cooke

Christopher Kreuzer

unread,
May 13, 2004, 7:10:52 PM5/13/04
to
Troels Forchhammer <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:

<snip>

[Aragorn's words to Gandalf before entering Moria]

>> He also warns Gandalf: "If you pass the doors of Moria, beware!"
>>
>> Is this Aragorn being prophetic, or is he basing his feelings on
>> some actual knowledge, maybe from his previous journey into Moria?
>
> Since both he and Gandalf have been through Moria earlier, I'd guess
> that it is actual foresight. That Aragorn was thus foresighted is
> stated explicitly in appendix A (the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen):


<snip>

And the reference to the foresight of his kindred relates nicely back to
Elrond, who is a distant uncle of some kind, and who also displays much
foresight, as I have been learning in these threads.

>>> Michelle J. Haines wrote:
>>>> The group camps on a hillside for protection for the night,
>>>> inside a circle of stones and with a fire.
>>
>> Does anyone think this is some remnant of Eregion's buildings? It
>> reminds me very slightly of the standing stones on the
>> Barrow-downs, but maybe it is just the remnant of a watchtower,
>> like on Weathertop.
>
> I can't say that I've ever thought about it, but now that you put it
> on my mind ;-)
>
> "... about which lay a broken circle of boulder stones."
>
> I'm not entirely sure if "boulder stones" could have been used in
> building - my dictionary gives two possible translations to Danish,
> one of which is also used for the very roughly shaped (or carefully
> selected) stones (granite mostly) used for the foundation of many very
> old buildings in Denmark (notably churches), while I find it difficult
> to believe that the other could be used as building material.

I find 'boulder stones' to be a strange word construction. Buildings can
be made of stone, which in that sense would normally refer to rock
quarried and shaped for use when building (eg. limestone).

Stone is also used to mean a small, eroded piece of rock, larger than a
pebble, but smaller than a boulder. Maybe Tolkien meant rocks of sizes
ranging between stones and boulders in size.

> Accepting for the moment the translation that lends itself well to
> building, I'd say that the broken circle of stones does sound like the
> last remnant of the ruin after an old tower (or other round
> construction). Towers seem to be quite popular in Middle-earth (from

> Tirion to Barad-dūr we see towers everywhere).

It is the 'circle' bit that makes me think it is a building or circle of
standing stones. Unless someone can come up with a geological reason for
such a structure, or another reason for anyone to pile the stones there,
then I think it is a ruin.

>> For me, it increased my respect for Legolas. His character is
>> developing slowly but surely. We have already had the comments in
>> the snow, and the comments about the long-lost Elves of Eregion.
>
> Legolas' comment refers to the stones, "/deep they delved us, fair
> they wrought us, high they builded us;/" how does that relate to the
> "broken circle of boulder stones" above?

It doesn't. Though it was of that that I was thinking when I thought of
the circle of stones as being part of a ruin. Looking back at the
original post, I was referring to this comment from Michelle:

>>> The wolf, not taking any crap from any wizards, jumps at Gandalf, to
>>> be immediately downed by an arrow from Legolas. I was always a
>>> little disappointed by this, and felt it took some of the teeth out
>>> of Gandalf's threat.
>>

>> For me, it increased my respect for Legolas. His character is
>> developing slowly but surely. We have already had the comments in
>> the snow, and the comments about the long-lost Elves of Eregion.

And my reference to the Eregion elves passage was an example of Legolas
getting to say or do something.

<snip>

>> Looking at the illustration, the arch has the writing translated
>> underneath, but does anyone know what the three other runic
>> symbols mean? There is one at upper left, one at upper right, and
>> one at lower centre.
>
> A footnote

It is footnote 9 from Appendix E - Writing and Spelling (II - Writing).
Thanks for digging this out. It had never registered with me. That
appendix is one that I have probably only ever read once!!

> " The inscription on the West-gate of Moria gives an example
> of a mode, used for the spelling of Sindarin, in which Grade
> 6 represented the simple nasals; but Grade 5 represented the
> double or long nasals much used in Sindarin: 17 = nn, but
> 21 = n."

The translation below the illustration says it is the 'mode of
Beleriand'. Does that help at all? My linguistic skills are practically
non-existant!


<snip>

<reinsert passage from earlier>

>>> In the silence, an ominous plop is heard, followed by ripples on the


lake
>>> from an unknown source.

>>>> with Boromir throwing a stone into the pool in a fit of pique.


>>
>> Did this attract the Watcher-in-the-water?
>
> Frodo is at least afraid that it disturbs something. I have always
> assumed that Boromir's stone did attract the (now fully awake)
> Watcher.

I like the sequence of events you speculate on.

> "The stone vanished with a soft slap; but at the same instant
> there was a swish and a bubble. Great rippling rings formed
> on the surface out beyond where the stone had fallen, and
> they moved slowly towards the foot of the cliff."
>
> I think that this means that the stone did attract the Watcher's
> attention.

I had completely missed the word 'beyond' in that quote. I always
thought that the stone that Boromir threw had created _all_ the ripples
that are mentioned. Now that I am reading the passage properly, I am
thinking <eek! there is something else out there!!>, those ripples are
_not_ from the stone. The rings of ripples from a stone would not form
_beyond_ where it hits the water, they would form _around_ it, with part
(half in fact) of the ripples being beyond the point of impact.

I am now also thinking why the Fellowship did not realise this. I am
also thinking that there is a link between the first 'plop' and
'ripples' when they cross that stream, and the 'swish and bubble' from
the later passage.

A few moments later we are told: "The ripples on the water grew and came
closer, some were already lapping on the shore."

If this was the ripples from the stone, it is the rings that would be
getting larger, not the ripples. I realise that the 'ripples' might be a
shorthand for 'rippling rings' (not *another* degenerate simile...), but
I like the idea that the Fellowship, like me, were fooled into thinking
that the ripples were from the stone.

I think these ripples are a sign that something is moving towards the
Fellowship from the southern end of the lake. And Gandalf is sitting
there deep in thought. Luckily he is just about to remember the Elvish
word for friend!


<snip>

[Watcher-in-the-water speculation]

> That leaves us with monsters of the Shelob kind and incarnate spirits
> (that is - could Morgoth have bred something akin to the fell beasts

> the Nazgūl ride in the air, just far more powerful?)

I would vote for that.


<snip>

>> As for it waiting so long, Gandalf makes a comment later that it
>> was sleeping.

Oops. I should have said Gimli, here. :-)


<snip>

>> I supect that it was the "water-aspect" of the Balrog (the Balrog
>> being the fire aspect).


I just read that somewhere. Strange theory.

<snip>

>> And, as we all know, Gandalf and the Balrog were old friends,
>
> ???
>
> What's this - Gandalf express something that I take as surprise when
> he learned that his foe was a Balrog.

Sorry. It was a tongue-in-cheek spoof. I was letting my imagination run
wild. One day I'll publish on a webpage my idle speculations concerning
Melian... :-)

Message has been deleted

Belba Grubb from Stock

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May 13, 2004, 9:14:23 PM5/13/04
to
On Mon, 10 May 2004 09:06:01 -0600, Michelle J. Haines
<mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:

>A Journey in the Dark
>
>We return to Our Heros in the evening, after their retreat from
>Caradhas. Gandalf gives everyone a shot of miruvor, they have some
>dinner, and sit down to decide what to do next.

Just as a general note, miruvor and the liquor Glorfindel gave the
hobbits to help them on their way to the Ford seem to be two different
drinks; the former was "clear as spring water and had no taste, and it
did not feel either cool or warm in the mouth," perhaps similar to
what Gildor's people put in the bottles of Frodo, Sam and Pippin,
while the former was a "warm and fragrant liquor."

>Gandalf comments that their choices are to go on, or to go back to
>Rivendell. A bit of belaboring the obvious there, I think. What
>would their third choice be? Flap their arms and fly to the moon?

Well, it follows immediately that description at the end of the last
chapter:

A cold wind flowed down behind them, as they turned their
backs on the Redhorn Gate, and stumbled wearily down the
slope. Caradhras had defeated them.

A very heavy blow to their morale that made going on much more
difficult. Of course they would want to go back to Rivendell, but
Frodo sees the dark side of that, and Gandalf quickly jumps in to
reaffirm that, saying that Rivendell would be defeated and the
Ringwraiths would grow much greater in power; Frodo then says that
they must go on, if there is a way.

One of the few times where we see Frodo as the active director of the
Company (aided and perhaps manipulated a little bit by Gandalf).

>the Battle of Five Armies as having significantly reduced the Orc
>population, and that Moria may not be repopulated at this point. He
>then throws in a reference to to Balin and Company, but from the
>various reactions of the company and even Gandalf's late reference to
>them, you certainly get the feeling that no one expects to find them
>alive.

I think he mentioned them just to fire up Gimli and gain the active
support of at least one member of the Company.

'Good, Gilmi!' said Gandalf. 'You encourage me. We will seek
the hidden doors together...'

So now the company has to vote against two, if they decide not to go
to Moria, which is much more difficult than saying no to just one
individual. More manipulation, although with the best intention. And
yet they do all say they don't want to go, even Frodo although he
qualifies it by trying to put off the decision until morning
(interestiing contrast with his previous decisiveness).

>Aragorn reveals he's been through Moria, and really doesn't want to
>go back.

Perhaps this has been discussed elsewhere, but does anyone have any
idea why he went into Moria in the first place?

>The night breaks out in howling as wolves prepare to attack, and
>Boromir immediate pipes up, "How far to Moria?" *snicker*

I always liked that, too. :-)

>In the morning, the only signs of the fight are burned trees and
>Legolas' UNDAMAGED arrows, except for the burned one. No bodies, no
>footprints, and apparently no indication the arrows killed any
>wolves, or some of them would have been damaged. This always
>confused me. Are we to think the wolves dragged off their dead in
>the middle of the night, even those that were killed in the middle of
>the circle? And how or why would the wolves removed the arrows from
>the bodies of their comrades first? Did the bodies evaporate into
>the ether? Why are none of the arrows damaged? Was this somehow not
>a real fight, but some illusion conjured up by Sauron or Saruman? Is
>this ever explained?

This is fairyland, where you can have real fights with insubstantial
(spectral) beings who can kill you or worse, and/or do all sorts of
horrible things to you that have a lasting effect, but cannot
themselves be touched unless you know "The Magic Spell."

The really interesting part here is that JRRT leaves it up in the air
(no pun intended) as to whether Gandalf's incantation drove out the
spectral wolves or if they disappeared because dawn had come. I think
he's laying the groundwork here for what will culminate in Gandalf's
display of tremendous power on the Bridge, in which he breaks his own
staff, and his almost simultaneous fall into the chasm with the
Balrog.

As for the wolves, I think they were exactly what Gandalf called them,
"hounds of Sauron," and their appearance was triggered by the attempt
to cross the pass. The crebain in the previous chapter most likely
served Saruman, as they came from Fangorn and Dunland, but these
couldn't have seen the Company as they came down from the pass because
they were below the Company and couldn't look it (without flying
upside down).

A case could be made from various hints that Sauron was at least in
cahoots with whatever evil spirit infested Caradhras, although it's
never proven convincingly that he actually caused the blizzard that
defeated the Company, and was thus made aware of the Company's
location by their attempt at the pass, and this may have somehow
triggered the immediate appearance of the spectral "hounds of Sauron"
that night.

Good contrast in capabilities there: Saruman has mere crows to do his
bidding, but Sauron, much further away ("300 leagues away," we're told
in the last chapter) has the territory covered with mountain spirits
and demon wolves. Don't mess with Sauron; oh, but they have to, don't
they. Hmmm.... (hook)

>Gandalf tells everyone to get ready to go into Moria while he
>searches for the door, and Sam finally finds out the plan to leave
>Bill at the door. He is understandably upset, but Gandalf blesses
>the pony, and they have hope he'll find his way back to Rivendell.

Just now, in reading the last chapter and this one for the discussion,
it struck me how thoroughly Sam is being set up for his eventual role
toward the end of the quest. In the last chapter, he's going through
the items in his pack, including "his chief treasure, his cooking
gear," which he will later throw away on Gorgoroth. Then when the
weather first clears and he gets a look at the Mountains of Moria, he
mentions to Frodo that he thinks it's about time that they "saw the
end of the Road, so to speak." This compares to him rejecting the
arguments of despair and continuing on like an unbeatable,
unquenchable spirit as they approach the actual end of the quest. And
here at the gate of Moria, we see the very first choice of Master
Samwise: "...I had to choose, Mr. Frodo. I had to come with you."

Missed that, all these years. These chapter of the week discussions
are wonderful. And what an excellent writer JRRT was!

>Moria is not in good repair, and there are fissures and chasms in the
>walls and floors, with the occasionally huge gap in the middle of
>their road. Sam bemoans the lack of rope. But seriously, why on
>EARTH would anyone have a three-and-a-half foot hobbit broad jump a
>seven foot gap, with a slip meaning a fall to the death, when you
>have to good-sized Men who could easily pick him up and TOSS him
>over? Being absolutely terrified of heights, I had a significant
>amount of empathy for Pippin, trembling on the edge of a gap while
>summoning up the courage to jump it, when the obvious solution was
>right there.[3]

Another character rant (g). This is the famous "fool of a Took"
chapter, but Pippin's starting to really shine forth in these recent
chapters. He stood up to Elrond in Rivendell and won a place in the
Fellowship for himself and Merry, with Gandalf's unexpected support.
He does have a moment of woeful shivering and whining on Caradhras
(well, maybe not exactly whining when you consider the hobbits were
barefoot in a mountain blizzard, the likes of which they'd never seen
before, at midnight), but he stands up to a grouchy Gandalf in front
of the doors of Moria and gets away with it. Having to wait a bit to
summon up courage and then successfully jumping the seven-foot gap
(equivalent to a 14-foot gap for one of us...in the dark) fits in with
the general picture of another hobbit starting to react and grow in
response to the stresses of the journey, but in a different direction
from the ones Sam and Frodo are taking.

So, we have Frodo being decisive one moment and then in the next
moment wanting to put off a decision until morning, i.e., a little
overwhelmed by his situation and trying to live up to his given word
while still scared inside; Sam still very much attached to his small
view of things and yet starting to make some hard choices based on his
love of his master; Pippin scared but starting to toughen up (whereas
before he just wanted to show Strider that he was tough when he really
didn't feel that way inside). And Merry? He's awfully quiet. In the
last chapter, he was jesting with Strider about missing the East Wind,
which seems to show him as not quite "with the program" yet, although
at that point all of them were being careless, except Aragorn. Yet I
wonder if Merry is so quiet because he's still attached to the Shire
and not really ready to cope with the outside world. Does he feel as
if he's in the "deep water" he mentioned in Bree and dreamed about in
Bombadil's house?

>Gandalf makes his choice, and they journey on to find themselves in a
>great chasm. Gandalf makes an interesting comment; "We are coming
>now to the habitable parts, and I guess now that we are not far from
>the eastern side." The habitable parts? So, the Dwarves lived on
>the eastern side of Moria, and the western side was all mining and
>work? The door out the western side must have been the back door, so
>to speak?

Well, the mithril lodes, we're told lead north and down into darkness.
? the southern regions of Moria. The western doors were used for
contact with the Elves of Eregion. I wonder if the western halls then
were more of a "public" part of Moria, sort of like a market area,
whereas at least some of the eastern side (perhaps above the Gate) was
where the dwarves, who are certainly a private people, had their
living quarters.

Gimli supposes there were guards at the junction of the three halls.
What need would there have been for guards so deep in Moria? Perhaps
that marked the end of the "public" area and the beginning of the
private area, coming from west to east?

>They wake, and Gandalf decides to look about the hall before deciding
>which way to go. They find a large square room, containing the tomb
>of Balin, son of Fundin, Lord of Moria. The effort to take back
>Moria indeed failed, and the chapter ends in gloom and grieving.

...the composition of "The Lord of the Rings" went on at
intervals during the years 1936 to 1949, a period in which I
had many duties that I did not neglect, and many other'
interests as a learner and teacher that often absorbed me.
The delay was, of course, also increased by the outbreak of
war in 1939, by the end of which year the tale had not yet
reached the end of Book I. In spite of the darkness of the
next five years I found that the story could not now be wholly
abandoned, and I plodded on, mostly by night, till I stood by
Balin's tomb in Moria. There I halted for a long while. It
was almost a year later when I went on...
-- from the Foreword to the second edition

I'm so glad he didn't give up.

Barb

Count Menelvagor

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May 14, 2004, 1:58:33 AM5/14/04
to
"Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message news:<7Hyoc.2278$ZK4.18...@news-text.cableinet.net>...

> As for it waiting so long, Gandalf makes a comment later that it was
> sleeping. I supect that it was the "water-aspect" of the Balrog (the
> Balrog being the fire aspect). And, as we all know, Gandalf and the
> Balrog were old friends, so Gandalf knew that the Watcher-in-the-Water
> (aka the Balrog) was sleeping, and that they had arranged for her to
> seal Gandalf and the Fellowship in the Mines of Moria. Then there was a
> bit of friendly fighting, and then Gandalf and the Balrog went off down
> that chasm for their prearranged 'rendez-vous'!! Whips and all.

What a disgusting notion! No Rog wd be so sick as to do it with
Gandalf or any wizard; not even the harlot #$*##*$@**@$&#&$*#$*@$@$.

And in answer to the question about what the Watcher is: the Watcher
is a brilliant conversationalist and a bon vivant of impeccable taste.

Jette Goldie

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May 14, 2004, 1:00:45 PM5/14/04
to

"Troels Forchhammer" <Tro...@ThisIsFake.invalid> wrote in message
news:Xns94E8F3126F...@62.243.74.163...

> In message <news:7Hyoc.2278$ZK4.18...@news-text.cableinet.net>
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> enriched us with:
> >

> > And I ascribed the disappearance of the bodies to 'magic'. I never


> > really thought about it further and just accepted it.
>
> It does seem that the bodies somehow evaporate or disintegrate. I
> haven't thought more about it either - just accepted that these were,
> as Gandalf notes, "no ordinary wolves."

I always read it as proof of the intelligence of the wargs - they
dragged their own dead and wounded away (though probably
to eat them rather than to give them medical aid or a decent
burial)


--
Jette Goldie
je...@blueyonder.co.uk
"If you don't care where you are, then you aren't lost"
http://www.jette.pwp.blueyonder.co.uk/


Een Wilde Ier

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May 14, 2004, 1:42:37 PM5/14/04
to
Count Menelvagor wrote:
> "Christopher Kreuzer" <spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote in message news:<7Hyoc.2278$ZK4.18...@news-text.cableinet.net>...
<snip>

> And in answer to the question about what the Watcher is: the Watcher
> is a brilliant conversationalist and a bon vivant of impeccable taste.

LOL!

Jim Deutch

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May 14, 2004, 4:33:20 PM5/14/04
to
On Thu, 13 May 2004 23:16:59 GMT, "Christopher Kreuzer"
<spam...@blueyonder.co.uk> wrote:

>> Michelle J Haines <mha...@io.nanc.com> wrote:
>

><snip>


>
>>> The Wargs run off, but regroup to attack later in the night
>

><snip>


>
>>> Was this somehow not a real fight, but some illusion conjured
>>> up by Sauron or Saruman? Is this ever explained?
>

>Not Saruman. There is a reference to 'Hound of Sauron'.

This is at least the third assertion in this thread that Gandalf's
words -- "Hound of Sauron" -- eliminate the possibilty that Saruman
sent the ghost-Wargs, but I wonder. Couldn't Gandalf have been
mistaken? Or speaking metaphorically? He didn't necessarily mean
that _these_ particular Wargs were _in this instance_ under the
command of Sauron. Or so it seems to me...

Jim Deutch (Jimbo the Cat)
--
"The unexamined code is not worth shipping." - Brian Caufield

Jim Deutch

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May 14, 2004, 4:33:21 PM5/14/04