Thu
Jan 13 2011 10:46am

LotR re-read: Return of the King VI.9, “The Grey Havens”

The Return of the King by J. R. R. TolkienIn the Lord of the Rings re-read, we have reached the last chapter, “The Grey Havens,” though not the end of the book. The usual spoilers and comments follow.

What Happens

The Shire prisoners are released and the cleaning-up begins. Merry and Pippin hunt out the last of the ruffians; Frodo, as Deputy Mayor, reduces the number of Shirriffs. Lobelia gives Bag End to Frodo and leaves him her money in her will to help other hobbits. The buildings built by the ruffians are dismantled and the materials used to rebuild or repair hobbit holes. Sam plants saplings to replace the cut-down trees and finds that Galadriel’s gift was soil, which accelerates the saplings’ growth, and a nut, which is the seed for a mallorn tree. In the spring, Sam and Rose marry and move into Bag End, one wedding of many in a year of great plenty and peace in the Shire. Frodo retreats from public life and is ill on the anniversaries of Weathertop and being poisoned by Shelob. Sam and Rose’s first child, Elanor, is born on the second anniversary of the Ring’s destruction.

In September, Frodo asks Sam to see him on his way to visit Bilbo, who will be turning 131. Frodo gives Sam the book that he and Bilbo have written of their adventures, with some blank pages at the end for Sam. The day before Bilbo’s birthday, they ride out, and the next day meet Elrond and Galadriel (both openly wearing their Rings) and Bilbo. Frodo admits to Sam that the Ring-bearers are going to the Havens and over the Sea, and that Sam cannot accompany them, though his time may come. Frodo says he has been too deeply hurt to be able to enjoy the Shire, but Sam will be busy and happy with his family and his work for many years to come.

At the Havens, they find Gandalf and Shadowfax. Merry and Pippin ride up at the last minute, warned by Gandalf, to say farewell and accompany Sam back. The Ring-bearers and many Elves board the ship and sail to the West. The other three hobbits ride home in silence. When they arrive at the Shire, Sam comes home to dinner and his family waiting for him.

“He drew a deep breath. ‘Well, I’m back,’ he said.”

Comments

Like many geeky families, we use “Well, I’m back” as a catch-phrase. And I probably still will, because it’s too handy, not to mention commonplace, a phrase not to. But I almost feel bad about it now, of using something so deeply and complexly bittersweet to mean something so mundane as “returned from vacation.”

This is not, by the way, a reaction I’ve had before; indeed, I’ve never had any deep feelings one way or another about this chapter. But now, maybe because the nature of the re-read means I’m stopping here until I get this post written instead of going on to look for story-bits in the Appendices, I’m just marveling at it. It fits for me the way that Frodo not destroying the Ring should have but didn’t: painful, surprising but right, and true to the characters, the world, and the story. So much so that I’m having trouble coming up with something more to say about it—my brain seems to think it’s so self-evidently fabulous that it refuses to produce any expository prose that it doesn’t cringe away from as painfully obvious. All the same, I recognize my obligations, here, and will swallow my pride and sally forth.

Perhaps one way to approach this is to note that my reaction of “oh, ow, perfect” is much more on Sam’s behalf than Frodo’s. I recognize Frodo’s pain and the way it flows from the plot and themes. Indeed, way back at the start of this re-read, I flagged Frodo’s statement “some one has to give them up, lose them, so that others may keep them” as the book’s coming full-circle to that chapter’s “It will have to be paid for.” But Frodo’s got what I am apparently to believe is a happy ending, being allowed to dwell in the West “until all (his) wounds and weariness are healed” (per Arwen in VI.6). I find it hard to imagine what his life is going to be like or how his emotional/psychological healing will proceed or anything like that. But I also find it hard to imagine him being in a lot of pain from missing Sam and the Shire while in that blessed land. And even before then, this chapter is fairly remote as to his life and experiences. So while this ought to be bittersweet for Frodo, I can’t get any useful mental grasp on his life after this chapter besides “happy and peaceful”—and thus, rightly or wrongly, I can’t feel the ending as bittersweet for him.

Sam, on the other hand, has a very concrete life now and in the future. He has a family that he loves very much, particularly Rose; I’ve always seen their marriage as a legendary grand-passion type relationship, on the admittedly-thin evidence of the number of their children (while that could be only proximity, as I think Inspector Grant in The Daughter of Time put it, a glance at the family trees in Appendix C demonstrates that not all hobbit families were that large) and his leaving for the Havens after her death. He has satisfying and important work in a place that he “care(s) about . . . more than any other place in the world” (VI.8). But he has also just said farewell, possibly for the last time, to the person he loved enough to support through a journey of indeterminate length, great danger, and, at the end, apparently-certain death—but who he couldn’t protect well enough for him to be able to stay. And if that’s not bittersweet, I don’t know what is.

On a prose level, look at the way this passage is structured:

Then Frodo kissed Merry and Pippin, and last of all Sam, and went aboard; and the sails were drawn up, and the wind blew, and slowly the ship slipped away down the long grey firth; and the light of the glass of Galadriel that Frodo bore glimmered and was lost. And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed on into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.

But to Sam the evening deepened to darkness as he stood at the Haven; and as he looked at the grey sea he saw only a shadow on the waters that was soon lost in the West. There still he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart. Beside him stood Merry and Pippin, and they were silent.

Yes, it has that beautiful image, but it’s in the middle, bracketed by Frodo “slipp(ing) away” until his light “was lost,” and then the reversal of Sam seeing only darkness and hearing only the waves. Ow. In a good way.

* * *

I’m having a very hard time finding anything else substantial to say about this chapter, and I think there are two reasons for that. One, it’s an amazingly local chapter: except for the comment about travelers coming to see the mallorn tree later, there’s no mention of anything outside the Shire. Not even the very first chapter was that narrowly-focused. So there’s very little to gossip about; we’ll have to save that for the Appendices. Two, except for Frodo, it’s an uncomplicatedly happy chapter, and while I don’t begrudge the Shire its happiness, some additional shades to the recovery would have engaged me more. I don’t believe in the least that Frodo is the only one scarred by the War of the Ring (Pippin nearly died! Merry got up close and personal with the Witch King! Hobbits were killed!), but I certainly couldn’t prove it by this chapter, which actually says, “All things now went well, with hope always of becoming still better.”

But then, it’s also a very short chapter, and it has such a perfect ending, that perhaps I shouldn’t ask much more of it. It simply seemed worth nothing that the ending was the only thing that felt vivid to me about it.

So here are some things I noted that don’t warrant extended comment.

Fredegar Bolger demonstrates that the initiative he showed, way way back in the day, by escaping from Crickhollow when the Black Riders arrived, wasn’t a fluke: he was leading a band of rebels against the ruffians. A captured band, granted, but still.

Also released from the cells is Lobelia, who then vanishes in a haze of sadder-and-nicer.

I’d wondered last chapter about the population of the Shire; here we’re told that it encompasses “thousands of willing hands of all ages.”

The conversation about what Sam should do with the soil from Galadriel is a lovely bit of characterization in miniature: Pippin, literally, breezy; Merry practical and conservative; and Frodo wise but not entirely vague.

I do appreciate the line about the summer of 1420 and how the children “sat on the lawns under the plum-trees and ate, until they had made piles of stones like small pyramids or the heaped skulls of a conqueror, and then they moved on.” I don’t know how that imagery avoids being discordant, but I like it.

Rosie Cotton is rather forthright in her speech, as demonstrated in the last chapter. But she apparently bowed to hobbit social convention earlier in the story, according to Sam: “It seems she didn’t like my going abroad at all, poor lass; but as I hadn’t spoken, she couldn’t say so.”

I find it really weird that Frodo’s pony is called Strider.

In the post about “Many Partings,” I asserted that there was the last variant of “The Road goes ever on.” Of course, I was wrong: just before Frodo and Sam meet Bilbo, Sam hears Frodo “singing the old walking-song, but the words were not quite the same” (which, in my defense, is why I missed it).

Frodo is apparently given foresight here, naming Sam and Rosie’s future children and Sam’s election as Mayor (the children’s names could be self-fulfilling, but the election—well, it could almost be, as a practical matter, but I don’t think we’re supposed to read it that way).

Shadowfax is with Gandalf on the quay; there’s no description of them getting on the ship, but I think the only reasonable inference is that he goes with.

* * *

As I said, I always go on to read the Appendices, which is what we’ll do next post (I think just one). Then a movie post—I’ll be talking about the movies and the books at Arisia this coming Sunday at 12:30, so I’ve already re-watched it, but we’ll do things in order. And then a final thoughts post to conclude the re-read.

And if you’re at Arisia and see me (I look like this), do feel free to say hi.


« Return of the King VI.8 | Index


Kate Nepveu was born in South Korea and grew up in New England. She now lives in upstate New York where she is practicing law, raising a family, and (in her copious free time) writing at Dreamwidth and her booklog.

110 comments
Bill Siegel
1. ubxs113
Those last words always makes me cry, everytime.
David Levinson
2. DemetriosX
By an amazing coincidence, every single one of the over 20 times I have read this chapter, it has been in a very dusty room and the dust has gotten into my eyes and throat just as I finish. Every time. That's my story and I'm sticking to it.

In all seriousness, that last sentence may be one of the finest crafted sentences in literature. There is such an incredible rightness about it.

One thing I noted this time is that there is a continuation of the slow peeling away of the members of the Fellowship. Frodo is, in many ways, already gone as this chapter begins. We are told of his actions for the rebuilding of the Shire, but see none of it. After he sails off, the three reminaing hobbits return to the Shire, but Pippin and Merry leave to go to Buckland and only Sam is left. Also note that in the last paragraph that you quote, the sound of the waves sinks deep into Sam's heart. It's not unlike Legolas hearing the sound of the sea.
Brandon Daggerhart
3. BDaggerhart
ubxs113: Those last words always makes me cry, everytime.


Same here. Very great re-read. I've never commented until now, but Kate, this has been an awesome experience.
Kent Aron Vabø
4. sotgnomen
I love this chapter, incidentally also one of the few chapters i feel really had justice in the movies. Although, as I read your post, I find I wonder what they would have been like if we saw the last minutes from Sam's POV, seeing Frodo from the outside, more and more fading away from doings. I suppose we would have needed the scouring for that to work..

Frodo being sick, I always read that to be on the aniversary of Weathertop and the anniversary of the ring being destroyed. Old Cotton finds him in bed, moaning "It is gone" or something.

About Strider the Pony, it always jarred me a bit too, but as I read your post, I had this image of Pippin or Merry telling Aragorn about the pony - silly grin plastered on their faces. Also, it helps that I haven't thought of Aragorn as Strider since Helm's deep.

EDIT: Btw, I'm currently having a great time reading the book in nynorsk, a fairly new translation to a Norwegian dialect that is partly rooted in Old Norse. This is great fun, because it also shares words and some tone with Old English, which almost makes me feel I'm reading it in the tounge of Rohan.
Dr. Thanatos
5. Dr. Thanatos
I'm always impressed that the very first "bad guy" we met in this story, Lobelia, surprises us with her bravery and generosity. Did we just not see this at first, because of Bilbo and Frodo's prejudices or did she rise to the occasion, as so many hobbits seem to do?

In a standard fairy story, the S-B's would meet their commuppance at the end. Lotho does, but we never met him before and we had no reason to dislike him; we had every reason to believe that "happily ever after" would mean that Lobelia would be driven out or otherwise dealth with during the Scouring. Nice touch, and one last opportunity to showing the humanity in even our most dislikable characters? After all, if Smeagol with the aid of the Banana Peel of Doom can save the world, and Lobelia can hit ruffians with her umbrella and leave her fortune to charity, can we really say that any of us have no redeeming value?
Dr. Thanatos
6. pilgrimsoul
First of all, I'd like to thank Kate for guiding us through the text of the trilogy. The Appendices are to come (yay!) but we have come to the end of Frodo's story.
I found this chapter sad in spite of all the healing and goodness going on because Frodo could not enjoy it. I hope he and Bilbo had a great time amid the Elves and Valar.
Mari Ness
7. MariCats
@Dr. Thanatos Regarding Lobelia, I always thought that seeing the results of her actions, spending some time in hobbit jail, and most painfully, losing her son, allowed her to do some deep thinking. I thought it was a very realistic response to the death of a child (however horrible the child may have seemed to outsiders).

What rather irreverently strikes me now from this chapter is wow, how typical that the travellers get terrible weather and rain on their way to fairyland. Can nothing go right in this trip?

(Which I don't think was Tolkien's intent at all. I should also note that I love rain....I'm just amused that it happened to be falling on them as they headed west.)

I also always liked the idea of the uttermost west being "far green." I'm not sure what either Tolkien or I mean by that, but it has a lovely sound to it, a special type of greenness beyond those shores.
Dr. Thanatos
8. Dr. Thanatos
@maricats,

I read this as "a far green country," rather than "a far green country;" I think this refers to a wide expanse, although one might expect Valinor to have some visually striking qualities
Kate Nepveu
9. katenepveu
DemetriosX @ #2, yes, and yet it's what Jo Walton a spearpoint, the craft and weight behind it isn't apparent at all without all the context that's gone before.

Yes, everyone else departs and Sam is left with a Sea-longing, a nice foreshadowing I hadn't noticed before.

TankSpill @ #3, thanks!

sotgnomen @ #4, I thought it was the Ring too, but the dates don't work: Frodo's sick on March 13th, and the Ring is destroyed on March 25th. The Appendices confirm it's Shelob, not the Ring.

And that's a lovely image, thank you: it would Pippin, definitely, and they would have a bittersweet laugh over it.

I will save the rest for the movie post.

Dr. Thanatos @ #5, what MariCats said re: Lobelia.

pilgrimsoul @ #6, Bilbo I can actually imagine having fun there, sitting by the fire and trading verses. And thank you.

MariCats @ #7, I hate to be prosaic but I read "a far green country" as "a country that was far away and also green." However, this is why you are the writer and I am not, because I have no poetry in my soul-or-equivalent.
Dr. Thanatos
10. Foxessa
There and Back Again ... thus, of course, "Well, I'm back," is the perfect last line.

Strider as name for Frodo's pony has always seemed just right to me.

A perfect chapter, described in terms that seem like the portrayal of the idealized English village and country life of a fête in a BBC series such as The Chronicles of Barchester, or a Midsomers Murders episode.

All together satisfying, though one does weep, which is part of the satisfaction for those of us who are the audience of tales of the heroic.

Heroes at home don't generally do well, it seems. They do give up too much of everything to do so. And there's so much pain of what and / or who has been lost.

Love, c.
Soon Lee
11. SoonLee
One, it’s an amazingly local chapter...

But of course. It's coming back full circle. We end as we began, in the Shire.

It's a perfect ending.
Michael Johnston
12. JohnstonMR
Tolkien had a very strong feeling that, at the end of a fairy tale, we must go back to the real world. That last chapter can be read as a sort of message to the reader: "Yes, this is the end, and as Sam returns to his family and his life, so it is time for you to close the book and return to yours."

Beautiful stuff.
Geoffrey Dow
13. ed-rex
"'Well, I'm back,' he said," is one of those rare jewels sublime in its apparent simplicity. I think it was Michael Swanwick who called it the single most heart-breaking line in all of fantasy, or something close to it.

While I admit that I still weep through much of the last couple of chapters, most of those tears come in anticipation of that beautiful and awful, somehow mundane moment of truth.

I've tried to explain my reaction by saying that I interpret Frodo's withdrawal to the Grey Havens as a metaphor for growing up (the final lines of The House at Pooh Corner also still make me cry), but it could just as easily be a metaphor for death or any kind of ending that is the inevitable result of even the best change.

I imagine Tolkien himself, of course, would maintain it represented only Frodo's own faint in the story, that he really did sail to the uttermost west and find peace at last.

Any way you take it, it surely is "beautiful stuff".

Thanks for a beautiful journey over familiar ground, Kate. I think I speak for many of us when I say that you helped me see it anew, which is a precious gift (and no pun intended).
Cait Glasson
14. CaitieCat
"Well, I'm back" is also a regular comment of mine, but for me, it doesn't feel irreverent to use it; it feels like a loving homage to one of my favourite lines of not only the book, but all fantasy ever. In context, it makes me cry every time, unabashedly.

I also loved Gandalf's "Long and long I fell", in recounting his fight with the Balrog, and Inigo's "I want my father back, you son of a bitch!".

Oh, and not quite fantasy, but "The Railway Children"'s ending always gets me too (SPOILER: the door closes on the private reunion of the titular children and their long-absent father).

Wonderful re-read, Kate, I look forward to your wander through the Appendices. Wish I were going to Arisia. Maybe next year. :)
Kevin McCormack
15. kmccmack
Frodo failed. I think he was keenly aware of that fact. No amount of understanding or praise could do anything but remind him of his final weakness.

I think it was easier for Frodo to live in exile.

Kate, thanks for all the time and work you put into the re-read. I've enjoyed it.
Dr. Thanatos
16. Gardner Dozois
I agree with Micheal: one of the most moving last lines in all of fantasy. It's impossible for me to think of a better one with which to end the trilogy. And it always makes me tear up, too.
James Goetsch
17. Jedikalos
The ending too has always haunted me. I love these books so much, and a big part of that is the simply perfect ending.

I have also loved following along with you in your reread (who knew how good such a thing as this could be--a sort of new way to do a literary circle using the new technologies). I have also enjoyed the many excellent comments made by others along the way: so thanks to you and everyone who commented on it!
Ron Griggs
18. RonGriggs
I always cry at two points: at the Field of Cormallen and at the end with Sam. One redeeming point of the movies is that the coronation scene ("You bow to no one!") comes close to the same emotional pitch as at the Field of Cormallen. And again, the movie comes close to the final scene of the book. Close, but not quite there.

I would like to point out the subtlety of the second-to-last line:

And Rose drew him in, and set him in his chair, and put little Elanor upon his lap.

I have always admired how this quietly suggests the passive, gentle sadness that Sam is feeling. Rose draws him in; you can feel her hand on his arm, leading him back into the next chapter of his life.
Dr. Thanatos
19. Blue Jam
This ending has always been one of my favourites. A good ending, a decent epilogue, is so seldom seen in stories, even good ones. So many cut short, without this winding down, this resolution, this quiet time of farewells. This chapter, much more than the journey back to the Shire, is a parting not only between hobbits, but between reader and characters.

I always feel distraught that Frodo both succeeded and failed. He and Sam made it further than any other. Mistakes were made along the way, of course, they’re only Hobbits. But they DID make it to Mount Doom, but they made it injured in body and soul.

I’ve always thought Frodo’s recurring flashbacks were a combination of events. His near death experiences by blade, sting and poison; the mental battle fought day in day out until the very end; his link with the One Ring and how abruptly it was severed; and his failure destroy the ring at the end. But most of all, it is his failure to be able to move on that cut deep. It is as if he has lost the Shire, inside, somewhere along the way.

I feel devastated on Sam’s behalf. With this departure a cornerstone of Sam’s existence goes. Sam endured much that Frodo did, but not all of it. He is also a practical soul (hiding a poet) rather than an all out dreamer. And in the end of their journey to Mordor, he succeeded, where his friend did not. A major cornerstone of his life is going, but he has built many other supporting stones. He never lost the Shire, but he unable to prevent his friend from doing so.

Mary and Pippin, while it is a sad time for them, they’ve grown in many unexpected ways. For me it always felt like officers fare-welling a former captain, leaving the service and on to retirement.

I always remember being both surprised and not at the revelation of Narya being on Gandalf’s finger.

A somewhat bittersweet ending, with all the cutlery put back in the draws, the floor tidied, and the children in bed, but I wouldn’t change it for anything.
David Levinson
20. DemetriosX
RonGriggs@18: Something I never really got before about that antepenultimate line is that Rosie is anchoring Sam in the Shire. By placing his daughter in his lap, she is reminding him that he has both a reason to stay and an obligation for the future.
Dr. Thanatos
21. Dr. Thanatos
What is intriguing, looking back from this last chapter, is that at the beginning, the narrative was all about Bilbo, then Frodo. We almost always saw from Frodo's perspective whenever he was in the picture. But here at this last moment, it's clearly Sam's story. He's the one who's come back. And the narrative became more and more Sam's narrative and point-of-view.

Looking back, it's a subtle shift. I think that we started seeing more and more from Sam's eyes after the breaking of the Fellowship; but can my fellow posters give their thoughts on the "tipping point" where Sam became the more central figure?
David Levinson
22. DemetriosX
Dr. Thanatos @21, that's an interesting question. Sam comes more and more to the fore throughout Book IV, largely through his interactions with Gollum. But Frodo always seems to come back, taming Smeagol, dealing with Faramir. I'd say the final tipping point would be when Shelob poisons Frodo and Sam leaves him for dead. I'm not sure we ever really get inside Frodo's head again. Even at Cormallen, we're brought into the action when Sam wakes up, even though Frodo has been awake for a while.
Dr. Thanatos
23. pilgrimsoul
Insightful comments on POV from Dr. T and Demetrios X. JRRT I think was very thoughtful in how the point of view could serve his artistic aims. In particular I'm thinking of how the Paths of the Dead was seen through Gimli's eyes.
As for a tipping point I don't know, but the picture that comes to my mind is Sam following Aragorn up hill looking for Frodo at the end of FOTR. He stops and realizes he knows Frodo's mind and intent more clearly.
Soon Lee
24. SoonLee
Thank you Kate & the commenters. This is/has been huge fun.

This chapter is a bit like the re-read: a tremendously enjoyable experience reaching its end. It's not easy for me to dissect; mostly I just immerse myself in the words like a warm blanket, not wanting the experience to end, but knowing that it will. Inevitably.

The thank yous might seem premature (we still have the Appendices & the movie re-watch), but given that it is the last chapter of the main narrative, it feels right.

I think the rightness of that last line "Well, I'm back", owes everything to what's gone on before. It's Jo Walton's 'spearpoint theory': those three small words are the 'spearpoint' driven home by the weight of everything that precedes them.
Andrew Foss
25. alfoss1540
Though "Well, I'm back." is a beautiful line, it did not get the tears going in the same way as the sobfest of the Field of Cormallen. I think it is just me.

The line sets the ending tone perfectly for, 1) immediately diving into the appendices, and 2) rereading the Hobbit, or 3) starting again with The Fellowship. You simply want to ease yourself back into this idealic life. Beautiful.

As for the movies - this chapter was all that was covered. The rest of the good stuff was erased - like the Old Forest and Bombadill.
Dr. Thanatos
26. Jerry Friedman
Nice touches: Frodo mentioning Sam's family obligations "a little wistfully", and at the end, "he was expected".

Can we read Fredegar Bolger's bravery in resistance as a reaction to his fear of the Black Riders, which he might blame himself for more than we do?

Not to be a curmudgeon—okay, to be a curmudgeon—the 1420 stuff always strikes me as too much. The children don't have to be blond, the trees don't have to grow back quite so fast. And that jokey line about those who had to cut the grass is an irritating little reminder of the Shire's social inequities. All the fruit is nice, though. (Trivia quiz: what's the evidence that hobbits aren't vegetarians?)

I'm mildly annoyed that the "folk" who come to see the mallorn don't include humans. But I'm really annoyed that the hobbits of the Shire don't get to see the elves. Galadriel and Elrond didn't hide from the Dunlendings; it's a shame they have to hide from the hobbits. But I guess Tolkien wanted Frodo to slip out the Shire in secret (again), without a send-off.

What would the book have been like if the style had changed where Sam takes over the writing?

But then in the last few paragraphs, I forget all that, and all the extra "and"s, and I agree with everybody else. That tantalizing glimpse of the far, green country (except Tolkien didn't want to slow down his prose with a comma), which has been hinted at so often—I'm sure Frodo will be healed there even if we can't imagine how. And Sam's return to Bag End, the starting point of the story but with the starting characters gone, which people have described so eloquently. Those things never fail.
Dr. Thanatos
27. Harry Connolly
I've enjoyed these very much. Thank you, Kate.
Dr. Thanatos
28. Dr. Thanatos
Trivia question answer:

"what's coneys, precious?"
Dr. Thanatos
29. pilgrimsoul
Trivia Question answer mark II
"Or I could fry up some rashers of bacon." Merry in words of that sort to Gimli and Legolas at Orthanc.
Dr. Thanatos
30. Jerry Friedman
pilgrimsoul @ #29: "And this is first-rate salted pork. Or I can cut you some rashers of bacon and broil them, if you like."

I assume Dr. Thanatos's coneys include "Fried fish and chips, served by S. Gamgee." I was actually thinking of a third example, and probably wouldn't have remembered the salt pork at Isengard even with a hint.

Considering other British descriptions of feasts, the ones in the Shire seem to be missing roast joints and fowls.
Dr. Thanatos
31. HelenS
"And just bring out the cold chicken and tomatoes!" (Gandalf to Bilbo in The Hobbit)
Dr. Thanatos
32. pilgrimsoul
Ok, Jerry, I'll bite, so to speak. What were you thinking of? Aragorn talks about hunting in FOTR as a possible source of food on the way to Rivendell. Pippen won't eat Orc meat. That's all I can think of at the moment.
And by the way, thanks for the quote.
Andrew Foss
33. alfoss1540
Anyone remember Sam's age at this point? Pippin was the youngest of the group. But how old was Sam? Trying to make a connection with his age at the end of the story.
Dr. Thanatos
35. JohnnyMac
HelenS @31: Remember that line was changed to "...the cold chicken and pickles!" in the third edition. Apparently, someone had pointed out to Tolkien that tomatoes are a New World product and would not have been known in Middle Earth at that period.

Of course, the same applies to tobacco and potatoes but they were too deeply embedded in the text to be easily changed. Refering to them as "pipe-weed", "leaf" and "taters" makes these anachronisms less striking.

Or, of course, we could take the cultivation of these products in the Shire as evidence of pre-Columbian hobbit voyages to the Americas!

It has just occured to me that there is even a passage in The Hobbit that could support this theory. In Chapter 1 "An Unexpected Party", when Bilbo realizes that the stranger on his doorstep is in fact Gandalf, he says:

"Dear me!" he went on. "Not the Gandalf who was responsible for so many quiet lads and lasses going off into the Blue for mad adventures? Anything from climbing trees to visiting elves--or sailing in ships, sailing to other shores!".

Some adventuresome hobbit lass could have taken ship (perhaps as a stowaway?) in a vessel that was blown of course and made land in the Americas. And somehow found her way back to the Shire carrying samples of tobacco and potatoes and, equally important, the knowledge of how to cultivate them.

But who would this anonymous heroine have learned from? Perhaps (to pile speculation upon hypothesis to an even dizzier height) she found the last of the Entwives! Who fled from Sauron across the landbridge that once bridged the Bering Strait. That would explain why the Ents never found them! They were looking on the wrong continent!
Dr. Thanatos
36. Gardner Dozois
"Coneys" are rabbits, aren't they?
Dr. Thanatos
37. Dr. Thanatos
@gardner,

Yes, coneys are rabbitses, precious; nasty fat hobbit cooked up a bunch in a pot after he made poor Smeagol catch them and find smelly grasses; wouldn't let poor Smeagol eat them raw. Serves the nasty hobbitses right that the cooking fire led the tall Mens to them.
Dr. Thanatos
38. Jerry Friedman
Dr. Thanatos @ #37: And right after that, Sam discusses the theoretical possibility of fish and chips, which is why I said your coneys included them. (Note to self: review my stories that Asimov's rejected for ambiguities of this type—I mean, to see whether they contain ambiguities of this type.)

pilgrimsoul @ #32: At the Maggots' farmhouse, the hobbits eat "a mighty dish of mushrooms and bacon".

JohnnyMac @ #35: If there are Entwives in America, can I call one to help me grow tastier tomatoes?

Actually, America as possibly discovered by St. Brendan
(as in Tolkien's poem "Imram", which I haven't read) might be kind of connected to Númenor and Valinor. Maybe an essential part of Tolkien's fantasy is that you can sail West and get somewhere better than the United States.
Dr. Thanatos
39. Dr. Thanatos
Jerry@38,

I specifically mentioned the coneys because that is what Sam was cooking; it made it to chapter title and is the loudest sign that hobbits eat meat . Sam mentioned fish to Gollum in passing but did not actually cook any; that's why I considered the rabbit episode separate from reference to nice tasty fishies...

I am intrigued by the concept of America as Numenor---any parallels between recent/current political figures and Ar-Pharazon the Golden are purely coincidental and are left to the reader. I think the closer parallel is between Numenor and the Barbary Pirates. All the later Kings were named Arrrrrr...
Dr. Thanatos
40. JohnnyMac
Jerry Friedman @38: Would that I did know an Entwife to ask for gardening advice. We could really have used one here in Oregon last summer when the unusually cool and wet weather made our home grown tomato harvest a bust.
Dr. Thanatos
41. Gardner Dozois
They're there, they've just lost the power of speech and movement. We call them "sequoias".
Dr. Thanatos
42. HelenS
I made green tomato chutney (which is something hobbits would definitely make, if they had ginger).
Dr. Thanatos
43. a1ay
They're there, they've just lost the power of speech and movement. We call them "sequoias".

Doesn't quite fit with the description in the book of the Entwives being bent and gnarled from their work in their gardens... If you're looking for really old, bent, gnarled trees in the Americas, I think the bristlecone pines are your best bet.
Dr. Thanatos
44. pilgrimsoul
When I was a teenager, I began to eat mushrooms--the food kind, not the recreational kind--because Hobbits did.
How were the rest of you influenced by LOTR?
Dr. Thanatos
45. Dr. Thanatos
Pilgrimsoul@44,

I lost my body-shyness regarding hair on my feet...

When my daughter first got an iPod she was very possessive of it; it became known as the Precious. When little sister would ask to "borrow" it she goes into full Smeagol mode...
Andrew Foss
46. alfoss1540
Pilgrimsoul@44 Besides all my D&D Characters being named after characters and places in LOTR???

Learned to blow expert smoke rings (loved threading small rings through big ones) until I quit the obnoxious habit that is.

Tried making cram and the Beorning cakes (recipes in one of the cutesy Middle Earth books I can't remember the name of). Both tasted pretty crappy.
Dr. Thanatos
47. HelenS
I learned most of the songs in the Swann book, including Treebeard's "In the Willow-meads of Tasarinan." I've only recently heard the William Elvin recording, and was VERY disappointed -- thought he just can-belto-ed his way through without taking the music seriously. I can't actually sing them very well myself (and naturally I'm an alto, not a bass), but I did work out interpretations that *I* think sound pretty good (in my head).
Dr. Thanatos
48. JohnnyMac
Pilgrimsould @32 : "Pippin won't eat Orc meat."

Given that he has recently heard Ugluk's brag: "We are the fighting Uruk-hai! We slew the great warrior. We took the prisoners. we are the servants of Saruman the Wise, the White Hand: the Hand that gives us man's-flesh to eat." I can sympathize with his reluctance to sample an Orc's version of an MRE.
Dr. Thanatos
49. a1ay
Tried making cram and the Beorning cakes (recipes in one of the cutesy Middle Earth books I can't remember the name of). Both tasted pretty crappy.

Yes, a relative of mine did the same thing, and produced a kind of degenerate-matter version of a flapjack which the family christened "Sickening Thud".
Dr. Thanatos
50. pilgrimsoul
Thanks for the interesting responses! Anyone else?

@at JohnnyMack 48
Exactly! Shudder.
Dr. Thanatos
51. Dr. Thanatos
@johnnyMack,

Does MRE stand for "Man, Ready to Eat?"
Dr. Thanatos
52. (still) Steve Morrison
This passage from the Prologue also shows hobbits ate meat:
The Fallohides, the least numerous, were a northerly branch. They were more friendly with Elves than the other Hobbits were, and had more skill in language and song than in handicrafts; and of old they preferred hunting to tilling.
Dr. Thanatos
53. Dr. Thanatos
Steve,

They could have been hunting those walking trees our Halfast talked about; nothing like them free-range vegetables...
Dr. Thanatos
54. Gardner Dozois
Whether they're kosher or not depends on how you kill 'em.
Dr. Thanatos
55. Dr. Thanatos
Gardner@54,

I would have to research the proper way to schecht a tree...
Dr. Thanatos
56. (still) Steve Morrison
So the Fallohides may just have seen too many Grape-Nuts commercials by Euell Gibbons?
Dr. Thanatos
57. JohnnyMac
Dr. Thanatos @51: Ha! Good one. Or it could be the Orcish version of Soylent Green.
Dr. Thanatos
58. Dr. Thanatos
JohnnyMac@57,

Orcish Green is made of people! And such small servings, too!

ref: Sweeney Todd's speculation as to the flavor that each type of person would bring to a meatpie...
Dr. Thanatos
59. JohnnyMac
Dr. Thanatos@58: Of course, Grishnakh answers Ugluk's brag by, among other things, accusing him of eating his own kind: "It's orc-flesh they eat, I warrant."

Add to this Ugluk's promise to his troops that: "We'll feast on horseflesh yet, or something better." and it would suggest that if Mr. Todd wanted to sell his famous meat pies to the Orc market, he should offer a range of flavors ("Now available in savory Man's Flesh, yummy Horseflesh and, for that real down home, under the mountain flavor, Orc!)
Dr. Thanatos
60. Gardner Dozois
Available in Smooth Orc or Crunchy Ork.
Dr. Thanatos
61. pilgrimsoul
Oh and another thing--Cirdan the Shipwright has a BEARD. I mean it's great to meet him and all, but elsewhere JRRT says Elves don't have beards.

The rest of you are ruining my appetite.
Dr. Thanatos
62. Dr. Thanatos
Washed down with a nice cold Orca-Cola...

Sorry, pilgrimsoul; it's just too easy.

By the way, Hobbits don't have beards except for one of the ethnic groups . Perhaps Cirdan was from a fourth group other than Vanyar/Noldor/Teleri.
Dr. Thanatos
63. Jerry Friedman
HelenS @ #47: I do like "In the Willow-Meads", and I wish there were a better recording. You folks here are the first to know that in addition to 1.2 fan poems, I've written a tune for A Elbereth Gilthoniel. One of these days I should track down the various versions by real musicians.

Tolkien also provided me with a password I often use.

pilgrimsoul @ #61: The Wikipedia article on Elves discusses Círdan's beard.

Dr. Thanatos @ #62: It's the Stoors that have down on their chins. (When I'm having a picnic with Dwarves, the cram-crumbs fall down on my chin.)
Dr. Thanatos
64. Lórindol
Gardner@60,

And don't forget those filled with Orc-vomit!
Dr. Thanatos
65. Dr. Thanatos
Ozbrach Orc's Every Flavor Beans?
Dr. Thanatos
66. pilgrimsoul
@ Dr. T Guess I can't complain. I started it.

@ Jerry 63 Thanks for the reference!
Dr. Thanatos
67. JohnnyMac
One last culinary delight: I read (I think in one of Shippey's books) that Tolkien once was the guest of honor at a LOTR themed banquet in Holland. A good time was had by all but Tolkien did have to diplomatically explain to his Dutch hosts that a dish called "Maggot Soup" (named for Farmer Maggot of course) was not likely to tempt the appetites of English speaking diners.
Dr. Thanatos
68. Dr. Thanatos
Pilgrimsoul,

I don't think we need to worry about the food that much. Liz promised his Orcs man-flesh, but given what we know about him I'm willing to bet that he skimmed money out of the provisions budget into his secret bank account in Fornost and gave the troops catfood...

In regards to smooth-chinned elves and Cirdan, I have known many clean-shaven men who had beards; not that there's anything wrong with that...
jon meltzer
69. jmeltzer
@61: Cirdan is a very, very old elf (he could well be twice Galadriel's age).

Tolkien says somewhere that elves did have beards "in their third stage of life".
Dr. Thanatos
70. pilgrimsoul
@ jmeltzer 69
I've come across that, too, but I am not sure if it came from JRRT or some fans rationalizing to cover up a slip on his part. Do you know?
Dr. Thanatos
71. (still) Steve Morrison
@pilgrimsoul:
It's evidently from a short piece by JRRT called "Etymological Notes on the Osanwe-kenta" which was published in issue #41 of the journal Vinyar Tengwar; but I haven't read it myself.
Dr. Thanatos
72. pilgrimsoul
@ Still Steve 71
Much thanks!
Roy Ayres
73. Rgemini
@ Jerry Friedman 63
A Elbereth Gilthoniel can be sung to the tune of "I look at clouds from both sides now". Not very elvish perhaps, but that's how I hear it in my head
Dr. Thanatos
74. Dr. Thanatos
You may be on to something, Jerry.

Joni Mitchell has those big blue eyes, and her hair is always down over her ears. And Nienna covers all her songs at karaoke night at the Valimar Bistro...
Dr. Thanatos
75. Jerry Friedman
Rgemini @ #73: Or Greensleeves. I hope I'm not ruining anything for anybody.

Dr. Thanatos @ #74: It's Rgemini who's onto something. Although elves have gray grey eyes and don't smoke.

If my knowledge of popular music were broader, I could come up with LotR karaoke.

Frodo: Pink Floyd, non-disco Peter Gabriel
Sam: Steeleye Span
Pippin: George Strait
Théoden: Rolling Stones
Shelob: Nancy Sinatra
etc.
Dr. Thanatos
76. Dr. Thanatos
My apologies, Jerry.

But if I recall, Luthien, Arwen, and Galadriel were smokin'...
Dr. Thanatos
77. pilgrimsoul
In contrast to the Hobbits and occasionally Aragorn and Gandalf who were just smoking.
Dr. Thanatos
78. Dr. Thanatos
Jerry@75,

Shelob: Nancy Sinatra

These boots were made for walking
And that's just what they'll do
One of these days all eight of these boots
Are gonna walk all over you...

Gollum: Johnny Cash

Love is a burning thing
And it makes a fiery Ring...

Also: Lenny Kravitz

Your eyes burned like fire
Through my heart
Although we were life times apart
Making mistakes was my game
Your life I tried to rearrange
But now I know a better way
My precious love

The Balrog: (artist unknown)

Please catch me, I'm falling,
In love with you...

Nienna: Leslie Gore

It's my party and I'll cry if I want to...

Sauron: (25 quatloos for anyone who can name the artist)

This golden ring doesn't shine for me anymore
And this golden ring doesn't mean what it did before
jon meltzer
79. jmeltzer
@78: Gary Lewis (performer), Al Kooper (writer).
Dr. Thanatos
80. Dr. Thanatos
jmeltzer, your quatloos are in the mail...
any other lyrical suggestions?
Dr. Thanatos
81. Dr. Thanatos
Darn it, now I'm stuck on this:

Gandalf: A Paler Shade of Grey
Saruman: I'm a Bad, Bad Man (Jerome Kerns, Annie Get Your Gun, for you young people out there)
Bill The Pony: Beast of Burden
Varda: You with the Stars in Your Eyes
Maehdros: Give the Man a Hand by Lefte Bank
Sam: Any of Sancho's songs from Man of LaMancha
Morgoth: Me and My Shadow
Fangorn: Forest of October by Opeth
The Sons o' Feanor: Requiem for a Soldier (Theme from Band of Brothers)Merry and Pippin: Keep on Growing by Sheryl Crow

Someone please give me work to do here in the office!
Dr. Thanatos
82. Lórindol
And don't forget Depeche Mode's "Master and Servant" for a duo-presentation by Frodo and Sam!
Dr. Thanatos
83. Dr. Thanatos
Gaga's Stop Telephoning Me---Sauron to Denethor?
Dr. Thanatos
84. Dr. Cox
Eowyn, when she's still crushin' on Aragorn - "What'll I Do?"
Smeagol/Gollum - "Stayin' Alive"
Rosie to Sam if she had been able to say something before he left - "You Belong To Me"
Dr. Thanatos
85. Dr. Thanatos
Angmar at the drag club: "Witchie Woman"
Glorfindel: Hair
Mouthie: Be A Dentist Little Shop of Horrors, appropriately enough]
Many Noldor: I Hate Men Kiss Me, Kate]
Smaug: Short People
Dr. Thanatos
86. Dr. Thanatos
It's slow again this afternoon...

Halfast: What Kind of Fool Am I?
Balin: They Call the Wind Moria
Queen Beruthiel: Theme from Cats
Ar-Pharazon the Golden: My Way
Glaurung: To Every Thing (Turin, Turin, Turin)
Legolas: If I Were King of the Forest

Send patients to the office, stop me before I strike again...
Kate Nepveu
87. katenepveu
Hi everybody. Wow, it's been a long time since I was here--sorry, I was miserably sick for a while and then swamped, and then I got the guilties about not participating in comments which, counterproductively, made me stay away.

But I'm working on reading the Appendices now and I'm carving out time to read and respond here.

SoonLee @ #11, yes, but even chapter 1 has some acknowledgement of events outside the Shire. This is remarkable in that it has none.

JohnstonMR @ #12, which message about returning to life is then vastly undercut by the Appendices. =>

ed-rex @ #13, heh, I just read the last Pooh story to SteelyKid. Digression: the interesting thing about that is that the sadness is not accessible to most of the audience--I suspect that by the time a kid is old enough to understand what Christopher Robin is talking about, they aren't reading Pooh stories any more. In contrast, of course, the sadness here is on the face of the text (even if I hadn't fully felt it before). And thank you, I appreciate it.

CaitieCat @ #14, that's a nice way of looking at using the line, thanks. I had a good time at Arisia, too.

kmccmack @ #15, and your view of Frodo's awareness of his failure agrees with mine, which is why I find it hard to imagine how he will be healed in Valinor.

Gardner Dozois @ #16, welcome, and I certainly can't think of any better ending either.

Jedikalos @ #17, I've found the comments one of the best things about this project too; I'm glad you found them the same.

RonGriggs @ #18, DemetriosX @ #20, excellent points about the second-to-last line, thanks.

Blue Jam @ #19, mostly nods of agreement, though I can't remember whether I was surprised about Narya because I don't think I really understood the significance of the Three Rings when I first read.

. . . and that's as far as I got before family leapt up and ate all my time. More tomorrow.
Soon Lee
88. SoonLee
Kate,

Sorry to read that you've been unwell. Getting well and other pressing RL concerns are surely more important than this re-read, fun though it is. I'd much rather you were healthy and able to participate fully.

Shorter me: we understand, and, glad you're better!
Dr. Thanatos
89. pilgrimsoul
So sorry, you have been unwell. The miserable weather cannot be helping.
Dr. Thanatos
90. Dr. Thanatos
Kate,

Please feel better; we look forward so to your posting and the wonderful appreciated work you have been doing in your copious free time for this blog.

I will even refrain from posting tangential silliness for a full 12 hours if this will help you recover...
Dr. Thanatos
91. pilgrimsoul
@ Dr. T 90
The ultimate sacrifice, Dr. T! I hope the Valar are reading, understand the magnitude, and grant Kate health.
Kate Nepveu
92. katenepveu
Okay, I'm back. And thanks for the well-wishes; it seems like it's been a rough winter for people around here, health-wise--or maybe it's just all the snow in the Northeast that makes it feel that way--and I hope that for those of you in the Northern Hemisphere it isn't the same. (And that those of you in the Southern are also well.)

Also, for the sake of speeding things up, you're welcome and thank you, too, to everyone who's kind enough to mention it.

Dr. Thanatos # @21, ooh, a big-picture question. I agree with DemetriosX @ #22 that the most obvious tipping point in terms of Sam being the focus is the end of TT; we get brief snippets of Frodo-POV in Mordor in RotK, but really brief. And it's really only the Scouring that he comes to the forefront after the destruction of the Ring.

Jerry Friedman @ #26, yes, I noticed all those recessive blond-hair genes suddenly coming out in 1420 too (which at least is not inconceivable, unlike the whole Elf-Human crossbreed thing).

JohnnyMac @ #35, the Entwives in America delights me, thank you.

pilgrimsoul @ #44, I can't think of any specific thing I've done in conscious emulation of the characters. But I'm one of the kinds of people who doesn't name their inanimate objects or break into spontaneous song, and I hate mushrooms, and I formed an intense dislike of smoking at a young age, and my roleplaying is limited to NetHack characters (which are always female and tend to be named after characters of more recent vintage). I'm sure as soon as I hit post I'll think of something I forgot, though.

Oh, but in middle school I tried to make traditional Korean cookies with my mom . I wasn't intending to make cram, but the result could certainly have gone into Pratchett's dwarf-bread museum, even: they came out so hard that literally, we put one under a desk leg and then sat on the desk, and the cookie was completely unchanged.

I'm adopted and my mom is of European ancestry; we were working from a cookbook.

Re: the songs game: ooooh, dangerous. Here, have a few based on a quick scan of my five-star playlist:

Celebrian: John Hiatt, "Crossing Muddy Waters" (from Elrond's POV):

Left me in my tears to drown
She left a baby daughter
Now the river's wide and deep and brown
She's crossing muddy waters

Frodo at the Havens: "I'll Fly Away":

Just a few more weary days and then
I'll fly away
To a land where joys will never end
I'll fly away

Sam in Mordor: Josh Ritter, "Long Shadows":

I'm not afraid of the dark, when the sun goes down
And the dreams grow teeth and the beasts come out
And cast their long shadows every time they start
I'll be right here with you, I'm not afraid of the dark

Gandalf: Mary Chapin Carpenter, "Why Walk When You Can Fly":

Why take when you could be giving
Why watch as the world goes by
It's a hard enough life to be living
Why walk when you can fly?

Okay, seriously, I have to stop now and go finish reading the Appendices. *buckles down*
Michael Ikeda
93. mikeda
Note that Dunedain mariners probably landed on the Middle-Earth version of the Americas.

Near the end of "Akallabeth" (in the Silmarillion) it's mentioned that many of the Dunedain believed that Meneltarma (the mountain at the center of Numenor) was not permanently submerged, but instead was now an island.

According to Akallabeth, however, Dunedain mariners searching for Meneltarma never found it but "those that sailed far came only to the new lands, and found them like to the old lands, and subject to death".

(The "new lands", however, were probably not where Middle-Earth got tobacco from. At least, Merry Brandybuck as quoted in the "Concerning Pipe-weed" section of the Prologue to LoTR seems to have concluded that the Dunedain brought it with them from Numenor.)

(Note that Akallabeth is one of the things the Dunedain called Numenor after its sinking. The Quenya equivalent of this term is Atalante. Thus Numenor is, in part, Tolkien's version of the Atlantis legend.)
Dr. Thanatos
94. formerly DaveT
With regard to tunes to songs...

The one that works best for me is Sam's troll song at The Prancing Pony. If you know the folk song The Fox that begins

The fox went out on a chilly night
He prayed to the moon to give him light
For he'd many a mile to go that night
Before he reached the town-o
Town-o, town-o...

It's a perfect fit. I happen to know (from an old recording of JRR himself singing that song) that this isn't the tune he had in mind, but I like this one better.
Dr. Thanatos
95. Dr. Thanatos
It's been quiet for a few days, so let me throw this out for discussion:

I've noted a curious absence, a one-sidedness in the books.

Can anyone think of a female character who is evil? I don't mean unpleasant, or annoying, but evil? I will put aside the question of Shelob and Ungoliant for now, and ask can anyone think of female equivalents of The Lizard, Mouthie, Angmar, Wormtongue, Arrrrr-Pharazon the Pirate King, or any of the other male-type dudes who were clearly and unequivocally working for MorgothCorp or it's latter-day subsidiaries?
David Levinson
96. DemetriosX
Dr. Thanatos @95: Off the top of my head, I think there was a really decadent Numenorean queen, sort of a Semiramis analog. I'm not sure how eeeevil she was, though. Other than that, though, no.
Dr. Thanatos
97. Jerry Friedman
Dr. Thanatos @ #95: Wait till you hear my proof that Goldberry is a spy. And that Grishnakh is female.

No, I can't think of any women working for MorCorp. But could this be part of a bigger one-sidedness? What percentage of the few female characters (counting spiders) are evile, and what percentage of the many male characters.
Dr. Thanatos
98. Dr. Thanatos
Jerry@97,

Goldberry is NOT a spy. She's a freedom fighter who has sacrificed her entire life and identity for the cause...

I don't know about Grishnakh. That person picked up young men, was willing and eager to go off in the dark away from the party but in the end, Grishnakh only wanted to get a Ring out of it. I'm far too much of a feminist to go there, personally...
Dr. Thanatos
99. pilgrimsoul
@DemetriosX 96

Are you thinking of Queen Beruthial (spelling) and her evil cats? JRRT is on record thinking that siamese cats are the spawn of Mordor.
Dr. Thanatos
100. Dr. Thanatos
Beruthiel was referred to in a note in the HOME; she was a nasty character. I had forgotten her. In terms of Silmarillion, LOTR, Hobbit, and Children of Hurin I think that at worst there were human and elvish women who were indifferent, but anyone who we might call a "bad guy" like the Dark Elf, Maeglin, or even Ted Sandyman? I would say that a significant percentage of the male characters, going back as far as Feanor, his sons, various people at the court of Thingol, the First Men, all the way down to Bill Ferny were dark in one sense or another but the worst that could be said about a female character could arguably refer to Galadriel who was not evil but put up with evil due to her willfulness and pride .

Is this Tolkien's basic English gallantry? A sense that the will to evil is a male characteristic ? I cannot accept the idea of it being sloppy writing.
Dr. Thanatos
101. Jerry Friedman
There is Lobelia, who's unpleasant though not perhaps on the Dark Side (and she gets redeemed).

I think there's room between "gallantry" and "sloppy writing". Tolkien grew up in a time that assumed that men did everything that mattered outside the home (unless a woman happened to inherit a throne). He may have felt the contrary idea to be disagreeably modern. He may have felt a female villain wasn't scary enough unless she had fangs. Compare and contrast, especially contrast, Lewis.
Dr. Thanatos
102. Dr. Thanatos
Jerry@101,

A passive "men do what matters outside the home" attitude might give us 100% of the women being Ioreth or Rosie; but many of the women seem to be active forces for good such as Eowyn, Galadriel, Luthien, Elwing .
Dr. Thanatos
103. Elaine Thom
Hey Kate, I hope you're just busy!

I just listened to the last two chapters. I thought in the Rob Inglis interpretation that Frodo rather wanted Sam to come overseas with him, although he knew it wasn't possible. I'd never thought of that before.

And on the 'rich golden hair' suddenly appearing, as well as the trees growing so fast and so on, not to mention the way the whole summer seemed like a glimpse of summers don't flicker and fade and things weren't marred, - it was Galadriel's blessing. Galadriel, known for her rich golden hair. She gave the Shire a glimpse of the West (or at least Lorien) with the earth from her garden that Sam spread throughout.

lastly, when one of the thugs was described as squint-eyed, I thought of the other use: strabisimus. I wonder how much of JRRT's 'squint' descriptions may have been thinking of that, as I gather it's more of an older British use, as opposed to the epicanthic(sp?) fold variety.
James Whitehead
104. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Just found this reread and wished I had found it sooner as these books are my favorite ones, bar none. I will pick this thread from here & follow the reread of the appendices.

Great points on the final chapter. I do think, however, that Frodo will find healing in Valinor; 'course that might just be wishful thinking on my part. ;-) Gandalf does say that he will soon be able to set aside his cares & burdens when he leaves so possibly Frodo will as well.

The ending with Sam is just right & he is now whole once more & home. I read that part & hope Frodo can say the same when he gets to his journey's end.

I loved the thene songs for the various characters; some of them made me laugh out loud. I have added a few here as I wait at working for the next round of numbers to crunch:

Tom Bombadil to Goldberry - "Tiny Dancer"

Eowyn to Aragorn - "Don't Go Breaking My Heart"

Faramir to Eowyn - "You Can't Always Get What You Want"

Boromir - "I Want It All"

Arwen to Aragorn - "Who Wants to Live Forever"

Gimli - "Working in a Coal Mine"

Nazgul - "Enter Sandman"

Turin - "Black Blade"

Beorn - "Bear Necessities"

Rosie Cotton - "Stand By Your Hobbit"

Smaug - "Baby You're a Rich Dragon"

Gollum/Smeagol - "Free Falling"

Queen Beruthiel - "Cat Scratch Fever"

Orcs & Goblins - "Whip It" (As inspired by Rankin/Bass)

@99Pilgrimsoul, I am in complete aggrement with Tolkien. I love cats but I cannot stand Siamese cats; they are evil. Blame it on Disney Studios I guess. ;-)

Anyway, thanks for indulging me.

Kato
Kate Nepveu
105. katenepveu
I'm not dead! (I'm not resting either, alas.) Next week, I promise.

Elaine Thom, enh, blond hair as a blessing or as a marker of great beauty bugs me on both personal aesthetic and wider sociopolitical grounds. But it's a minor point, especially since all the Numenor-descended types have dark hair.

KatoCrossesTheCourtyard, welcome and sorry I've been slow to get the appendices post up!
James Whitehead
106. KatoCrossesTheCourtyard
Thanks for the welcome & no worries on the delay. Glad you are doing them.

I never gave much thought to the unusual number of blond haired children the hobbits had after Sam uses Galadriel's gift. I just linked it to Galadriel herself as a reminder of what was being lost with the passing of the elves.

Don't forget that Galadriel had golden hair from her mother Indis, who was a a Vanyar elf, as opposed to the more typical darker haired Noldor. The Numenoreans were darker than the elves, in hair colour anyway, as were their kings & queens since the were descended from Elros.

Kato

PS - Glad you're not dead yet but can you do the Highland Fling?
Dr. Thanatos
107. I can't think of an alias
What always affected me in this chapter was not the end of Frodo & Sam's story, but that this has the last of the Noldor & Wizards leaving Middle Earth. It's the end of magic and fantasy; from now on the world will be the mundane place we live in. Even though the good guys won, they also lost. Undoubtedly the best chapter in all of fantasy.
Bill Reamy
108. BillinHI
I do believe I have discovered why Kate has been unable (s0 far) to complete the appendices for the re-read!
Kate Nepveu
109. katenepveu
BillinHI, substitute a toddler for the cat and that's not far off, actually . . .

Great picture.

I am uploading the Appendices post now and it will go in the queue for the site!
Dr. Thanatos
110. Sjoerd van der Weide
Is something wrong, Kate? I surely hope not: that you don't deserve for your splendid work here!

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