Tuesday, October 8, 2013

LOTR Read-Along: Three is Company (FOTR Ch. 3)

And so the adventure really begins!  Frodo says goodbye to Bag End (sniffle sniffle), and he sets off for Crickhollow.  Is that not the coolest name for a house?  I was really wishing we had bought a house that was anywhere near a creek and a hollow so we could name ours that.  Oh well.  Maybe some day.

But I digress.  Not only do Frodo, Sam, and Pippin begin their journey, but we get introduced to the Black Riders too!  I prefer to call them 'Nazgul,' but 'Ringwraiths' sounds cool too.  They are ultra creepy, and I can see why they kind of get copied in other fantasy novels.  It amuses me how Pippin fixates on the way the Black Riders sniff after Frodo -- when he says, "But don't forget the sniffing!" (p. 77), I always laugh aloud.  Dear, dear Pippin.

If you've seen the movies, did you notice that part of the walking song they sing gets used in Return of the King?  The last verse is what Pippin sings for Denethor.

And we meet our first elves!  High elves, too, not half-elvish like Elrond and his kin.  I have to admit that the Elves are not my favorite Middle Earth race.  They're a little too cold or remote or reserved or something.  Yes, too reserved.  But they fascinate me, nonetheless.  And I do like their way of speaking.  Not so much Elvish itself, though it's cool, but just their almost oratorical style.

Favorite Lines:

The road wound away before them like a piece of string (p. 72).

They passed slowly, and the hobbits could see the starlight glimmering on their hair and in their eyes (p. 78).

"A star shines on the hour of our meeting" (p. 79).

Sam walked along at Frodo's side, as if in a dream, with an expression on his face half of fear and half of astonished joy (p. 80).

"The wide world is all about you:  you can fence yourselves in, but you cannot for ever fence it out" (p. 82).

"But it is said:  Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger
"And it is also said," answered Frodo:  "Go not to the Elves for counsel, for they will say both no and yes" (p. 82-83).

"Courage is found in unlikely places" (p. 83).

"...may the stars shine upon the end of your road!" (p. 83).

Possible Discussion Questions:

What do you think of the elves?  Who do you like better so far:  Frodo, Sam, or Pippin?


  1. The Elves are one of my least favorite races as well. I have mixed feelings about the way they portrayed Legolas in the movies, but I think I like him better there because he has some personality. The Elves in general just seem too impersonal, and I think that's part of the reason I like Eowyn better than Arwen.

    Frodo doesn't have the depth of "silly" personality that Pippin has or the quaint wisdom of Sam--he's very knowledgeable and, without the silliness of other Hobbits, is respected by Gandalf as one of the wisest there is. But I don't think he's really wise until he's suffered from the weight of the Ring. I've always liked Sam, Pippin, and Merry--Frodo isn't my favorite but I do like him in the books FAR better than in the movies.

    Thanks for doing this chapter by chapter--it's so fun!

    1. I agree that Legolas in the movie is a lot more personable than in the book. In the book, he's almost too static, too aloof. I can pinpoint the moments in the movie that made me go, "Okay, he's actually a different race, but he's not alien." When they're mourning Gandalf in Lothlorien, and he says, "For me, the grief is still too near," I went, "Oooooooooh. He has a different way of processing things -- intriguing!" And then when Boromir is dying, and Legolas stands a little apart with this very quizzical look, like he's examining this whole scene from the outside and figuring it out, I went, "Hey, I do that! I stand outside and observe instead of getting close and participating too often. I get him."

      As for Frodo, it's funny, but I always assumed he was kind of everyone's favorite except mine. Could be because the college friend who helped introduce me to LOTR just looooooooooooooooooooooved both Frodo and Elijah Wood, and so did some other friends, and so I was the weirdo going, "But what about Boromir? Boromir is amazing! What about Sam? Sam is wonderful!" I don't know if I like Frodo better in the books or the movies -- in both, he's just kind of there for me, and I accept him and his importance, but he's not at all one I really care deeply about.

  2. I'm opposite. I love all the elves, and they always make me smile. The elves in this chapter are so cool. They help the Hobbits, take them along, feed them, give them shelter, and advice, they smile and laugh a lot -- and they know when not to talk, as well. I would love to spend time in their company, and I think I would be far more at home with them than the Hobbits.

    As for whose my favorite so far... hm, can't say. None at this point. Sam will end up being my favorite later, but right now, so early in the book, I don't have any feelings for any of them yet... I don't relate to the Hobbits overall, really.

    I did not notice the walking song gets used in RotK... but then, you know me and lyrics and poetry, I doubt I'd ever have noticed, if you didn't point, and even now... still not sure cuz I can't pull up the song in RotK. So hopeless on such things, me!

    1. Yes, they're very helpful, and I appreciate that :-) But they always seem aloof, like they're faintly amused by these beings that are so beneath them. I dislike aloofness -- it's right up there with gruffness.

      The walking song's last verse is what Pippin sings to Denethor while Denethor is eating nastily and Faramir is riding out to his (almost) doom. Reportedly, Peter Jackson gave the words to Billy Boyd and asked him to make up a song to them. They used the very first take for the movie. Dunno if that's apocryphal or not, but that's what I've heard.

    2. Interesting! I agree that they're amused by the hobbits, but hobbits are silly and amusing creatures, particularly this early in the book. But I don't see these elves as aloof at all. They laugh and smile and burst into song in this scene -- not cold or aloof traits. And the gentle way they help and carry the hobbits to soft bowers to sleep, etc. I don't see them as thinking the hobbits are beneath them either. They tell them that the food they offer the hobbits is poor... why bother to apologize if they thought the hobbits were beneath them? The things Gildor says to Frodo, etc., it reads to me like he genuinely cares and wants to protect the hobbits.

    3. Okay, I have figured it out! To me, it feels like the elves behave toward the hobbits like adults toward children. Fond and kind and caring, yes, but just kind of above some how. It's like how my friends talk to my kids -- if someone talked to me like that, I'd want to smack them. But because they're adults talking to kids, it's fine. Only, when I was a kid, I got really annoyed by that disparity. So this is pretty much me getting annoyed on behalf of the hobbits, lol.

    4. I can understand that! I even agree that does appear to be how some of the unnamed elves treat them, but not Gildor to Frodo, at least. He does not patronize him as they talk long into the night. But this is one of the things I love about having a bunch of people read the same thing and comment together. We all bring our personal baggage along for the read, and I love how it colors our interpretations. It is so cool and fascinating how our experiences affect how we read (or watch) something..

  3. I seem to have almost completely forgotten since my last read how entertaining Pippin is in the book! I'm chuckling at him and his lines all the time! He's definitely my favourite hobbit of those three – but Bilbo is my favourite hobbit on the whole, as you might have guessed :) As for the elves, I somehow get really excited every time Gildor and company come into the book, and I like Gildor enormously for some unexplicable reason.

    1. Another Gildor fan! What am I missing? Lol. I love Elrond and Glorfindel, and I have a soft spot for Elrohir and Elladan. Along with Legolas, they're my favorite elves.

      I prefer Merry to Pippin, but Pippin is quite a lot cooler in the books than the movies. Not used quite so much for comic relief, just being funny at random moments. Merry's a little quieter, a little more like me.

      But I love Sam best of all Hobbits. Tied with Gandalf as my second-favorite character in all the books.

  4. Here the Quest begins. In this chapter Frodo sets out with his companions and the Ring, beginning a very long journey. I love the way it starts out subtle and without a tremendous feeling of urgency or pressure; the first night, they even set no watch -- "even Frodo feared no danger yet, for they were still in the heart of the Shire. This allows Tolkien to slowly ramp the danger up and up and up until by the end of the quest it can go no higher. It immediately gets ramped up in this very chapter with the appearance of the Black Riders.

    I personally like the Elves, though I can easily see how you could dislike some of their actions as condescending. I absolutely love their leader's name, though -- Gildor Inglorien. So beautiful. And he isn't really condescending at all when he's talking with Frodo. And he gives Frodo the brilliant piece of advice to set out at once and take friends with him; the Elves also confirm Sam in his determination to go with Frodo, as we find out in the next chapter. All in all, I find it a very good thing they ran across the Elves just here, though I can understand how you wouldn't like them. They wouldn't be the easiest people to make friends with. :)

    As far as the hobbits go, we really don't know them all that well yet. Pippin does have a delightful sense of humor at times; the conversation where he expects Frodo to bring water is quite funny. And I admire Frodo for being willing to carry the Ring and leave his beloved home on a difficult and dangerous road. Sam I don't know well enough to care about all that much yet -- but don't worry, I came to like him very well indeed before the end.

    Just by the way, Legolas is referenced as saying that the grief is still too near for him in the book too, not just the movie.

    1. Marcy, it's not so much that I dislike elves, I just love them less than hobbits and men. So they're not my favorite, but I certainly like them better than dwarves in general. I'm exceedingly fond of Elrond, Legolas, Glorfindel, and the not-in-the-books Tauriel. But elves as a whole are... not as friendly and flawed and relate-able as men and hobbits.

      And yes, you're right, Legolas does that in the book too. In that earlier comment, I was talking about the movie just because that's how I experienced this first, how I first "met" the characters. So it was those two instances that helped me see Legolas as a different race, but not unknowable, if that makes sense.

      His visible reactions to Boromir's dying are one of my favorite things in the whole film, and the only time I actually like his dad Thranduil in the Hobbit films is a moment in The Battle of the Five Armies when Thranduil comes upon a large number of dead elves. For a moment, he gets exactly the same wondering, confused, I'm-processing-this-horrible-thing look -- I have to think it's deliberate on Lee Pace's part to echo that moment of Thranduil's son encountering death.

  5. I just wanted to add, there’s a rather neat bit of foreshadowing at the end of this chapter: “’But where shall I find courage?’ Frodo asked. ‘That is what I chiefly need.’ ‘Courage is often found in unlikely places,’ answered Gildor.” I find this interesting because Tolkien goes on to quietly point out through the rest of the story that the hobbits are the last ones expected to be the heroes, yet they consistently are; and they are also the only race to be credited with having an inner spring of courage (that’s said about Merry in ROTK, and I would quote if I had the book handy). It feels like Tolkien is hinting at what is to come – Frodo will find courage partly in the unlikely fact that he is himself a hobbit.

    Also, I should note that Elves aren’t necessarily my favorite race in Middle-Earth. I just don’t dislike them.

    1. Marcy again, such a good observation! I hadn't thought of that, that Gildor is trying to tell Frodo that just because no one thinks he will be courageous, that doesn't make it true. Excellent job catching that, and I agree it's definitely a foreshadowing.

    2. (And just to repeat what I said above, I don't dislike elves! Rivendell is my favorite place in all of Middle Earth. I just like men and hobbits better.)

    3. To your first comment -- thanks.

      And I don't really know yet what my favorite race in Middle Earth is. I suppose it depends on whether I'm thinking about the race in general or the characters who are members of it. In the theoretical, I might like elves the best, because I love Rivendell and Lothlorien and find the elven culture cool, but if I start thinking of my favorite characters I'd come up with a lot of men and hobbits before I ever got to elves. Hmm. I would like to be able to dream like an elf, though.

    4. For me, most of my favorite characters are humans (Bard the Bowman, Boromir, Eomer, Aragorn, and Faramir are all high on my list, with Bard and Boromir at the tippy-toppiest top), and I also love Rohan and the Rohirrim very much, and overall I just really dig the race of men, so yup, they're my favorite.

      But elves are very cool.


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