Tuesday, December 12, 2017

Another LOTR Read-Along: Strider (FOTR 1, 10)

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.

Favorite Lines:

"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).

Discussion Questions:

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?


  1. I think I'm (finally) caught up with the story!

    1. In some ways, I think the answer to this question lies in the rest of the books. Later, Gandalf will say that courage is the best defense. Much is also made of the "fool's hope"--the idea that someone or something insignificant can make a significant difference in the tide of the world. I think these are the two most powerful elements portrayed in the story that can act as an antidote to fear.

    2. It's hard to imagine the difference that Butterbur's mistake made. Without this, perhaps they never would have encountered the Nazgul at Weathertop and perhaps the Dark Lord wouldn't have known so much about the company. This might have played into even preventing the capture of Merry and Pippin.

    On the other hand, the hobbits may not have had Gandalf's help if they had been sent on their way by Elrond while he was still at Orthanc. If this was the case, then the encounter with the Balrog might have been even more disastrous.

    Books, like history, seem to turn on the most minor of details.

    1. RM, yay!

      1. Very nicely put.

      2. I know... it's one of those things that frustrates me because it's so avoidable, and yet so momentous.

  2. I would love to read or see more about the Rangers. I wonder if the new LOTR prequel that Amazon talks about making will be (partly) about them.

    1. Birdie, OH MY! That is such a tantalizing thought. I really hope the rangers are involved in that at some point! I do like that we see more of them later on in the books here, at least.

  3. I LOVE that line Strider says about longing for friendship. I always feel bad for him in this chapter. :-( <\3
    I think a good antidote to power=terror is compassion, maybe? :-Z
    The story would have been a whole lot different, I think; Frodo wouldn't have gotten stabbed at Weathertop for one thing. :-)

    1. MEM, I know, poor Strider. No wonder he gets so excited when the other Rangers show up way later in the story, huh?

      I think compassion would be a good antidote to terror. (Also, chocolate.)

      And that's so true about Frodo probably not having gotten injured if he'd set out earlier! I guess we'll never know.

  4. I like Strider in this chapter too (and the next two). He's so wise and smart and does so good at turning around all the prejudices against him, especially when trying to befriend the ever suspicious Sam.
    I like it when Frodo says, 'I think [the enemy] would look fairer and feel fouler.' And Strider replies, 'I see, I look foul and feel fair' (p. 224). Such a great quote; and so in line with the theme of reversed expectation at which you have hinted before :)

    I think that light seems to be a bit of an antidote against the power of the Nazgul. But probably good, warm feelings would work well too.

    And how different everything would have been if that letter had reached Frodo on time. He would have left sooner and never put on the ring. But maybe the Ring would still have found his careless finger anyway ... who knows!

    1. Irene, love what you say about Strider here! He's just plain cool here.

      Light and maybe cheerfulness, yeah. Those are my thoughts. Kind of like chocolate helping you get over a Dementor attack in Harry Potter.

      I guess we'll never know, huh? Fun to speculate about, though!

  5. I love Gandalf's letter with all the postscripts. I love how Butterbur tried to have it delivered as requested and then just got swept up in life and forgot. I can relate to that, ahem, me of the post-office-challenged group.

    1. DKoren, lol! And I just mentioned relating to Butterbur too. Methinks we are too busy for our own good. (I called one of my kids "Nob, you wooly-footed slowcoach" the other day when they were taking forever to get out the door to church. They laughed.)


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