Friday, December 6, 2013

LOTR Read-Along: A Journey in the Dark (FOTR Ch. 16)

I'm considering signing everything as "one stray wanderer from the South" (p. 288) from now on.  Totally my favorite description of Boromir.  Just so you know.

This chapter has lots of exciting parts, with the wolves, and then the watcher in the water, and then all the wandering around in Moria.  And once again, I don't have lots to say.  Hmm.  And yet, this and the previous chapter are one of my favorite sections of the book. 

Gandalf says that he "once knew every spell in all the tongues of Elves or Men or Orcs" (p. 299) that were used to open enchanted doors.  So... there must have been a lot of enchanted doors around at one time, and they've just fallen into disuse?  That seems foolish.  I mean, if I had an enchanted door that you could only open with the right password, I think I'd keep using it.  Sounds very handy in case of a siege, for instance.  Or for stockpiling Christmas presents where the kids couldn't get at them.

Once Gandalf figures out how to open the Doors of Durin, he says, "Of course, of course!  Absurdly simple" (p. 300).  This makes me laugh, not for a LOTR-related reason, but because there's a moment in the Sherlock Holmes story "The Dancing Men" where Holmes doesn't want to explain to Watson how he deduced something because he says that once he explains, Watson will say, "How absurdly simple!"  Watson insists that he won't, Holmes explains, and then Watson cries, "How absurdly simple!"  It's a funny moment in the story, and particularly funny in the Jeremy Brett movie version.  So just thought I'd share :-)

Favorite Lines:

"However it may prove, one must tread the path that need chooses!" (p. 289)

"The wolf that one hears is worse than the orc that one fears" (p. 290).

"That was an eye-opener, and no mistake!" (p. 291)

In the dark at the rear, grim and silent, walked Aragorn (p. 302).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Okay, what is up with Aragorn and Moria?  It says here that he went there once, and "the memory is very evil" (p. 289).  Is this explained in the appendices, and I've just forgotten because I've only read all of them once, and that was years ago?


  1. I love this chapter. But when Sam bursts into tears over having to abandon Bill, I almost always do the same. I feel that moment so keenly, and Sam's distress breaks my heart.

    I love the Watcher in the Deep. I was so happy the first time I saw the movie and the creature really did have fingers on the end of its tentacles, just like the book. I almost cheered outloud. The Watcher and the Balrog were two of my favorite parts in the movie, because they both just came to life on screen nearly exactly as I read them in the book.

    Gandalf always surprises me, like in this chapter when he sends Pippin to sleep and takes the watch. Me, I'm still mad at Pippin for dropping that rock down the hole, but Gandalf is far kinder than his exterior sometimes lets on.

    Love Sam's line on page 290: "Whatever may be in store for old Gandalf, I'll wager it isn't a wolf's belly."

    1. Yes! Poor Bill, and poor Sam.

      Good line! Sam is so unexpectedly wise.


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