Wednesday, January 3, 2018

Another LOTR Read-Along: The Ring Goes South (FOTR 2, 3)

The fellowship sets out at last, and I start to feel that the story is truly getting started. A lot happens here, and yet I don't have a lot to say. The bit on Caradhras is very exciting.

I spend a lot of time there being impressed by Boromir, of course. He's the one who suggests bringing wood. He's the one who worries that the snow will be "the death of the halflings" (p. 283). He's the one who suggests creating a path back down through the snow for the others to follow. And then he suggests carrying the hobbits through the path. So the last few pages of this chapter in my copy are full of little smiley faces in the margins, and the occasional heart. And sometimes a heart with a smiley face inside it if I'm particularly pleased.

I'm heartily amused by Legolas too, running around on top of the snow and making little jokes.

Favorite Lines:

"Books ought to have good endings" (p. 266).

Health and hope grew strong in them, and they were content with each good day as it came, taking pleasure in every meal, and in every word and song (p. 267).

"May the stars shine upon your faces!" (p. 274).

Discussion Questions:

Gandalf seems to possibly blame Sauron for the freak storm, but Gimli blames Caradhras itself. What/who do you think caused the storm? (In the movie, it's Saruman, but that doesn't seem to be an option in the book.)

Do you agree with Bilbo that books ought to have good endings? If so, what do you consider to be a "good ending"?


  1. I never noticed how much Boromir helps out in this chapter, but it does help me feel like he's actually a decent fellow.

    I'm not sure that Sauron himself caused the storm, but I wouldn't rule out one of his servants causing it. Caradhras itself seems a little far-fetched, but it is fantasy after all.

    1. RM, well, yay! I have succeeded in showcasing Boromir's good qualities, then.

      Only Gimli really seems to think it's Caradhras, but he's a dwarf, and the dwarves know mountains like no other, so... I don't know.

  2. I totally agree that books should have good endings but of course, good endings needn't be happy endings. I think a good ending should be satisfying and that's definitely one of the trickiest things for writers to achieve because every person is unique and expectations might differ wildly from one reader to another.

    I hadn't given much thought to the storm before - I think that sometimes I read much like a rational person and totally forget about the fantastic element - but it might be that both Sauron and Caradhras are to blame. After Sauron has already gathered many supporters and servants and if anciente trees can uproot themselves and fight, it doesn't seem that weird that a mountain can cause a snow storm willingly. Also, it sounds much like in old epic poems, like the Iliad, where the gods played with the weather and more to help their favourites and hinder the enemy.

    1. Irene, yes! A good ending is not necessarily a happy ending, and vice versa. Satisfying endings where moral balance is restored to the universe can be very tricky indeed.

      I hadn't thought of that similarity to the Iliad -- that's great!

  3. I love Legolas' jokes in this chapter. XD They're awesome. I think it's Caradhras that caused the storm; Tolkien mentions several times that Caradhras is an evil mountain, and I think there's something deep and evil at work in the very heart of it. AND YES. Books must have good endings. XD I think a good ending is one that satisfies. It doesn't have to end with everyone living happily ever after, but it has to end, not just trail off (like what Lois Lowery does in The Giver). That's what I think anyway. :-D

    1. MEM, yes, Legolas gets pretty funny sometimes :-)

      Yes, I agree that a good ending must be satisfying. It must restore order. I really don't remember The Giver, and should reread it, but I do recall not really digging it -- maybe that's why!

  4. Once again with the time passing! So much time goes by while they wait in Rivendell for the scouts to go out and return. It's such a relief when they finally get underway. I wonder what miruvor, the cordial of Imladris tastes like, besides warm ard fragrant.

    1. DKoren, yes! I'm always like, "Get a move on!!!"

      I've always thought that port was a lot like miruvor. Or that miruvor would be like a magical version of port. Rich and warming and almost food-like.


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