ACK! How did I not post a new chapter for almost a week? Sorry about that.
Oh, Strider, you are so lovely. I like you ever so much more in the books than the movies. You're grim and strong and wonderful. And so intriguing, with your half-hinted backstory lingering in the shadows still here. You say you're older than you look, you hint that you've dealt with the Nazgul before, and you are just altogether awesome. I remember some of your fellow Rangers will show up later in the books and being all cool and mysterious and just begging to have their own books. Sigh. Yum.
But anyway, I love how Frodo goes all suspicious in this chapter. He thinks Strider is a rascal out to swindle or trap him, he thinks Butterbur forgot Gandalf's message on purpose -- Frodo just doesn't do things halfheartedly, does he? First he's one hundred percent too careless in the previous chapter, and now he's one hundred percent too suspicious. Makes me laugh.
And good old Butterbur. Determined to guard his guests even against terrible foes. He may be a scatterbrain, but he has a stout heart.
We also hit the poem about Strider, the one on page 167 that begins "All that is gold does not glitter." I see the second line ("Not all those who wander are lost") on stuff a lot, as it's very popular for t-shirts and journals and bumper stickers. I always get annoyed if it's quoted incorrectly -- so many people leave out the word "those," and then it's all wrong and I frown vehemently.
Oh, and we hit the "Black Breath" here too -- the Nazgul power to sort of overpower you. Remind you of the Dementors from Harry Potter? It does me.
"Go on then!" said Frodo. "What do you know?"
"Too much; too many dark things," said Strider grimly (p. 160).
"A hunted man sometimes wearies of distrust and longs for friendship" (p. 167).
1. Strider says that the Nazgul's "power is in terror" (p. 171). What can you think of that might be an antidote to such power?
2. How might the story have been different if Gandalf's letter had reached Frodo as intended?