Wednesday, November 13, 2013

LOTR Read-Along: Flight to the Ford (FOTR Ch. 12)

Once again, I'm astonished at the amount of time that elapses in this section of the book compared to the movie.  I've seen the movie more often than I've read the book (though I've read the other two books more often than I've seen the other two movies), so I'm used to all this going much more quickly and Frodo's wound being more quick-acting.  It's the end of their twelfth day out from Weathertop that they meet up with Glorfindel, and they travel with him for another day before Frodo crosses the ford to reach Rivendell.  

Speaking of Glorfindel, I so wish he was in the movies.  I understand the cinematic need to reduce the staggering number of characters, and the modern need to give the women more to do.  But Glorfindel gets totally excluded, while Haldir's role got expanded a lot.  And Haldir's only in the Lothlorien part of the books, while Glorfindel is one of the few who can ride openly against the Nazgul.  And not just ride against them, but actually drive them away from a bridge and chase them!  So unfair.  

Okay, enough grousing.  The movies can't be perfect.  I love them anyway.

The little section with the trolls makes me laugh.  With Merry and Pippin terrified, and Strider just walking up to one and hitting it with a stick -- I like this little light-hearted interlude to lessen the oppressing doom of Frodo's wound.

Speaking of Frodo, I suddenly like him a whole lot more when he refuses to ride Glorfindel's horse to Rivendell and leave his friends behind in danger.  Of course, Glorfindel rightly points out that if Frodo isn't with them, his friends won't be in much danger, but still, it was very noble of Frodo.

Favorite Lines:

"I am learning a lot about Sam Gamgee on this journey.  First he was a conspirator, now he's a jester.  He'll end up by becoming a wizard  -- or a warrior!"
"I hope not," said Sam.  "I don't want to be neither!" (p. 203)

He almost welcomed the coming of night, for then the world seemed less pale and empty (p. 207).

Possible Discussion Questions:  

Strider says, "it is not my fate to sit in peace" (p. 197).  And yet, isn't his reign after the war peaceful?

Frodo has "an uneasy dream, in which he walked on the grass in his garden in the Shire, but it seemed faint and dim" (p. 197).  Do you think this is just because he's wounded, or has the ring already changed him so much that, even if he gave it up at Rivendell and went home like he expected to do, he would no longer belong in the Shire?

SPOILAGE ALERT concerning stuff in The Hobbit!  In the next chapter, "Many Meetings," there's a list of which dwarves survived the end of The Hobbit.  If you don't want to be spoiled about that, then when you get to the conversation between Gloin and Frodo in "Many Meetings," watch for the paragraph that begins, "And with that Gloin embarked on a long account of the doings of the Dwarf-kingdom."  Don't read the rest of that paragraph or the next two.  Start reading again where it says, "Gloin began then to talk of the works of his people, telling Frodo about their great labours in Dale and under the Mountain."  (All page 223 in my copy.)


  1. I think, concerning what you say about Strider that either he means, it's not his fate now, before the War of the Ring is won or that he doesn't yet believe in an ending where he will reign as the king.

    1. That does make sense. Certainly up to then, he hasn't been sitting or peaceful.

  2. Yes, love Glorfindel, particularly because he is one of the few who can stand against the nine, but also understand how different movies need to be, and I too love the movie. (I find it quite fascinating... and contradictory... that I love Fellowship the best of the movies, but it is not my favorite of the books. Return of the King is my favorite book, but not my favorite movie. Contradictory because I find I prefer how many events unfold in the book... and yet... Fellowship is such a great movie. It works so well. And there's Sean Bean, of course...)

    And holy smoke... passage of time is right. And in "The Ring Goes South" chapter, two months go by before they depart! There are whole adventures in their scouting before we pick up again where the movies do.

    And I love that no one is with Frodo when he faces the nine at the river.

    1. Cowboy just read "The Ring Goes South" a couple nights ago, and he also commented aloud on how two whole months get spent sitting around at Rivendell waiting for the scouts to come back. Wow. Two months is a really long time.

  3. Yes, it certainly takes quite a bit longer in the books than in the movie. I rather like it this way, though, because it gives a much better picture of hobbits being able to resist the Enemy's power longer than anyone else would be able to. It also makes Strider a more necessary and influential character -- if it weren't for him, they'd obviously never get to Rivendell. And I do like Glorfindel a lot in the book too, with his white horse and his ability to ride openly against the Nine. And yes, I love that moment when Frodo refuses to leave his friends.

    And yes, the time when they encounter the trolls is totally my favorite flashback to The Hobbit. The way Merry and Pippin are so terrified and Strider is so nonchalant is pretty fun. Also, I find the moment where Frodo says that Sam will wind up as a wizard or a warrior and Sam says he doesn't want to be neither rather funny, as the Orcs wind up mistaking him for a warrior and he uses the title for himself several times.

    And then you get the really tense, cool ending to the chapter where Frodo faces the Nine all by himself and tries to defy them, and they get defeated by the river under Elrond and Glorfindel revealing himself -- but you don't really know what's happening until the next chapter. Very cool.

    1. Marcy, that's a great point that this makes Strider more obviously necessary.

      The trolls part is just so funny :-) Perfect bit of quiet humor.

    2. So I was thinking more about Frodo's care for his friends when he refuses to ride on ahead, and I was thinking that his determination to do what is best for the people he loves -- to protect them -- is a very large part of his character. It's the reason he decides to leave the Shire in the first place -- to keep the place he loves safe; then he is determined to slip away with no companion but Sam so as not to get Merry and Pippin into danger. He decides to leave the Company and go to Mordor himself at the end of the book because he doesn't want to risk the Ring corrupting anyone else within it, and he is reluctant even to let Sam come along, not wanting to let him be killed. I get the feeling this may be a part of why he is able to resist the Ring for a long time, because he didn't take the assignment of taking it into Mordor out of concern for himself but to save those he cared about. Later on, he starts to care a bit about Smeagol and takes him under his wing. And the first time I read "The Scouring of the Shire," I was wondering why Frodo was so very reluctant to let anyone be killed, even the ruffian enemy he would have every reason to wish dead. I was wondering just now if maybe he has seen a larger slice of the world during his journey and come to care for far more people (like dwarves, men, elves) than he ever thought he would, so that now his natural tendency to protect extends to practically everyone. He seems to be quite protective. And I guess I relate to that, because I can feel very protective about the people I love. Maybe this is also why he is able to accept, in the end, the fact that Middle Earth is lost to him -- he has always been willing to sacrifice for his friends; he just didn't realize that it would mean sacrificing everything he has ever known

      This is also partly why I love Sam, because Frodo is the type that would take the weight of the world on his shoulders and try to carry it all by himself, without help. But he's not strong enough to do it alone, and he doesn't really realize that, at least not for a long time. Sam, on the other hand, understands that from the beginning, and he's determined not to let Frodo do it alone, and I love him for that. In the end, of course, Frodo can't do it alone, and it takes Sam (and Gollum, at the very end) to enable him to complete his task.

    3. I heartily agree!!! Very nicely put.


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