Monday, April 7, 2014

LOTR Read-Along: Shelob's Lair (TTT Ch. 20)

You'd think this would be one of my least-favorite chapters, what with this having a giant spider in it and me loathing spiders so much.  But actually, I find it quite exciting.  Maybe it's just the change after all that endless walking and climbing?  It helps that even though the text talks about her enormous legs and that she's spider-like, my imagination kind of turns her more into a crab and saves me from getting too creeped out.

Anyway, I think I'm never fonder of Frodo than I am here, when he holds up Galadriel's Phial and his sword and advances toward Shelob.  Wow!  That's so courageous.  

I find the bit of backstory on Shelob really fascinating.  She "was there before Sauron" (p. 707) -- craziness!  I'm definitely going to read The Silmarillion later this year, after I've finished this trilogy.  Speaking of finishing... one more chapter, and we're done with The Two Towers!!!  Woo!  

Random other thing:  it says here that Sam is smaller than Gollum!  Not how I picture them (thanks to the movies).  Huh.

Favorite Lines:

They walked as it were in a black vapour wrought of veritable darkness itself that, as it was breathed, brought blindness not only to the eyes but to the mind, so that even the memory of colours and of forms and of any light faded out of thought.  Night always had been, and always would be, and night was all (p. 702).

Then holding the star aloft and the bright sword advanced, Frodo, hobbit of the Shire, walked steadily down to meet the eyes (p. 705).

Possible Discussion Questions:

Tolkien says Sam hides the Phial out of "his long habit of secrecy" (p. 709).  I don't recall Sam being secretive -- I tend to think of him as rather open.  Does this strike you as incongruous?  Or am I missing the secretiveness up until now?


  1. Gollum is actually pretty tall in the movies, he's just always down on all fours, but he's quite long. I always thought he was at least the same height as Frodo and Sam.

    This chapter is exciting. The fight between Gollum and Sam is my favorite part. Gollum's been waiting and waiting for this moment, and Sam rises to the occasion. Very satisfying moment.

    1. Hmm. Maybe it's the word "smaller" that caught me -- you're right, height-wise there's not a big difference. I guess "small" is not a word I associate with Sam, lol.

      And yes, Sam rises to the occasion magnificently. Love, love, love him so much in all this section -- he just gets more and more awesome from here on out.

  2. I love that first quote! It just keeps adding and layering. Adding depth of meaning without belaboring. And hmmmm. I don't recollect that about Sam either. Interesting.

    I tend to picture Shelob like a giant mountain of disgusting squish with legs and terrifying eyes-which makes this chapter quite disagreeable (except for all the thrilling heroism that's happening because of it). Maybe if I pictured her as crab it'd be better. :-)

    And the Silmarillion! It's dreadful, but I haven't read that at all... How about a read-along? (hint, hint. :-))

    1. No matter what, Shelob is just gross and horrid.

      I haven't read the Silmarillion at all yet either. Hmm... maybe we could start it during my Tolkien Week party in September?

  3. Ugh, Shelob, she might be the villaneous character of LOTR which creeps me out the most. The way she's described is brilliant though, it's pure fear in words.

    Just saying, if you're doing the Silmarillion read-along, I'm in! I really want to reread that book and I think it's a perfect book to read together, you'll get much more out of it that way!

    1. Maybe you should host the read-along, since you've read it before? Just throwing that out there...

      And yeah, Shelob = ultimate yuck.

    2. Uhm, yes, maybe... I don't know if I have the time and persistence to post twice every week like you do though...

    3. Well, if I do host it, it'd probably be slower as I have a feeling it'll take me longer to plow through a chapter of that than of this.

    4. I don't know, once you're in the flow of the book, it reads quite easily actually (except for the 'historical' chapters maybe, which I always compare to some parts of the Bible: 'Then character A got son B, he ruled so-and-so long and died, then B ruled so-and-so long, he married C and got son D' etc. etc.)

    5. My hubby has read it, and he says Tolkien accomplished his aim of making it like the epic spoke-word sagas of old like Beowulf. That is to say that the interesting parts are broken up with long lists of names :-)


What do you think?

Comments on old posts are always welcome!

(Rudeness and vulgar language will not be tolerated.)