Sunday, November 24, 2013

LOTR Read-Along: The Council of Elrond (FOTR Ch. 14)

Man, this is a long chapter with a lot in it.  Where to start?

With Boromir, of course.  Here he is at last, my beloved Boromir, this "tall man with a fair and noble face, dark-haired and grey-eyed, proud and stern of glance" (p. 234).  There's a little smiley heart in the margins of my book here.  I'm not going to say a lot more about him here, as I'm going to do a whole character post about him myself.  So for now I'll just point out that he had traveled for a hundred and ten days, all alone, making his way from Minas Tirith to Rivendell.  I wish I knew what sorts of adventures he had on the way.  That's a long time to be out in the wilderness.

Also, it sounds in this like it was Boromir's idea that he come to Rivendell instead of Farmir, not Denethor's idea.  He says "since the way was full of doubt and danger, I took the journey upon myself" (p. 240), which sounds very nice of him.  And full of pride, which is his besetting sin, but still, nice of him to spare Faramir all that doubt and danger.

I find it interesting that Bilbo, who was hired by Thorin to be a burglar, ends up being called a thief.  Here, Sauron's messenger is quoted as calling Bilbo a thief while talking to Dain, and didn't Gollum call him that too?  Hmm.

Elrond is old!  His memory "reaches back even to the Elder Days" (p. 237).  Holy cow.

Fun factoid about Radagast the Brown:  he's "a master of shapes and changes of hue" (p. 251).  Wouldn't it be cool if they did something with this in the next Hobbit movie?

Saruman reminds me mightily of Hitler.  His voice is his greatest weapon -- here, Gandalf says he was "lulled by the words of Saruman the Wise" (p. 244), and later on he'll tell his companions to beware of Saruman's voice.  Also, Saruman says that his "high and ultimate purpose" is "Knowledge, Rule, Order" (p. 253).  Doesn't that sound kind of Nazi-esque?

Okay, I'll say one last thing about Boromir.  I love how he stands up for Rohan here.  Gandalf and Aragorn discuss whether Rohan might be sending a tribute of horses to Sauron.  Boromir says, "It is a lie that comes from the Enemy.  I know the Men of Rohan, true and valiant, our allies" (p. 255-56).  I love him especially much there.

Favorite Lines:

"'The time of my thought is my own to spend,' answered Dain" (p. 235).

"The might of Elrond is in wisdom not in weapons, it is said" (p. 239).

"If simple folk are free from care and fear, simple they will be, and we must be secret to keep them so" (p. 242).

"And he that breaks a thing to find out what it is has left the path of wisdom" (p. 252).

"May your beer be laid under an enchantment of surpassing excellence for seven years!" (p. 257).

"...only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero (p. 263).

"This is the hour of the Shire-folk, when they arise from their quiet fields to shake the towers and counsels of the Great" (p. 264).

Possible Discussion Questions:  I'm always struck by the fact that Aragorn attends Elrond's council "clad in his old travel-worn clothes again" (p.233).  Why do you suppose he does that?  Is he trying to keep a low profile and not draw attention to himself?  Trying to impress on people the fact that he's good at the whole wandering-around-and-being-brave thing?  Boromir "looked again at Aragorn, and doubt was in his eyes" (p. 241), so clearly he didn't think Aragorn looks particularly kingly.  But why?

Elrond says that "The road must be trod, but it will be very hard.  And neither strength nor wisdom will carry us far upon it" (p. 262).  Do you think this is a foreshadowing of what will happen with Boromir (strong) and Gandalf (wise)?


  1. This is one of my favourite chapters! I know a lot of people who think the chapter gets droning with all the stories from Bilbo, Gandalf, Glóin and who else, but I find all these bizarrely compelling! As for Aragorn's wardrobe, I think he just prefers modest clothing. Possibly he thought that if he "dressed up" Boromir would pick up hints that he was trying to shove his Isildur heritage down Boromir's throat (and we all know how strongly Boromir feels against monarchy in Gondor).

    1. Droning? Really? No way, I love all the explanations of what exactly is going on.

      You may be right, that Aragorn knew Boromir, next Steward of Gondor, would be there and so he wanted to be as um... unthreatening? as possible.

      At any rate, I would have liked it a lot better in the movie if he'd stayed in his Strider clothes, as what he wears to the Council there looks like pajamas, IMHO.

  2. I love what you say about Elrond's comment about 'strength and wisdom'. I've never thought about it this way, but it sure does look like a foreshadowing.

    1. I never caught it before either, it just jumped out at me this time around. I love how these books are so multi-faceted that I can find new things every time!

  3. Those grey eyes are really cropping up everywhere now. I see what you mean!

    I love this chapter because it answers all sorts of questions. You know how I am not fond of mysteries, so finding out what happened on Weathertop before Aragorn and hobbits get there, where those four missing black riders that you asked about in a previous chapter had gone (chasing Galdalf), etc., is such a relief. I love having all the mysteries cleared up so I can get on with the book without being annoyed by what I am not told. This chapter always reads very fast to me. I am not particularly fond of this scene in the movie (not un-fond of it either, it's just sort of there), but I love it in the book.

    One of my favorite lines in this chapter regarding Sauron on page 262: "For he is very wise, and weighs all things to a nicety on the scales of his malice."


What do you think?

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