Thursday, September 23, 2010

Deep roots are not reached by the frost

Current book: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring
Pages read: 230 - 336

Gandalf's message says that the hobbits are in more danger than he'd thought and that they need to be on their guard as much as possible. It also tells them that Strider is a friend, that his real name is Aragorn, and to trust him. They do, and, on his advice, don't go back to their bedrooms that night, but sleep in the common room. It's a good plan, which is made clear by the fact that their beds are torn apart and slashed when they check in the morning. They set off as quickly as possible for Rivendell. The road is difficult and treacherous, but they make headway until they get to Weathertop, a high hill with a good view. It's here that the Black Riders catch them. Frodo, entranced in some way by their magic, puts on the Ring (I feel like I should be capitalizing it now, so I guess I will.) and sees the Riders' true forms - ghost-like spirits with crowns - but is also made visible to them. One of them stabs him in the shoulder with a poisoned, enchanted blade, but he calls out in Elvish and his sacred words scare them off.

Frodo is made very ill by his wound, and Strider tries his best to move them along to Rivendell as quickly as possible so that the elves can treat Frodo's injury. Luckily, an elf called Glorfindel has ridden out to meet them, and he leads the party quickly toward Rivendell. Before they can reach it, however, the Black Riders catch up to them. Glorfindel puts Frodo on his magically swift and nimble elf-horse and sends him on ahead, and Frodo makes it across the river that serves as Rivendell's border. There he is protected by elf-magic, and so is safe.

Frodo wakes him days later in the luxurious and comforting guest houses of Rivendell, where he, Sam, Merry, and Pippin rejoice to find themselves whole and well fed. Eventually, they discover that Bilbo is also there, as well as Gandalf. Many others have gathered in Rivendell, too, to discuss the problems of the encroaching darkness and what's to be done about it, and together they hold the Council of Elrond. There, Elrond, a super-ancient elf (seriously - so old), recounts the history of the Ring, and we learn that Sauron forged it to control the world and that it is the seat of all of his powers, but that it was cut from his finger at the last moment of a great battle. Unfortunately, Isildur, then king of men, chose to keep it rather than destroying it. It has passed from hand to hand ever since.

The action in this part was really quite exciting. The Riders attacking the inn in the dark and the subsequent flight of the hobbits was engaging, as was the attack on Weathertop and their race to Rivendell with the Riders in hot pursuit. The Council of Elrond is kind of boring, but at this point, we probably actually need the back-story, so it's not terrible. There's too much of it, especially since we get the stories of most of the participants in addition to that of the ring, but it's serving as necessary, though overdone, exposition. The dialogue is kind of an issue, though - and, again, I'm coming back to seriousness as a problem with it. There's just some kind of quality to it that makes it sound so stilted. I feel like I'm not really hearing the voices of any of the characters. Strider and the hobbits are the biggest problem - Gandalf is a little better, and Bilbo quite good, but nobody else seems to have any discernible character. They seem like constructions rather than people. And sure, you can argue that they are constructions, not people, but in good books characters don't come across that way.

1 comment:

  1. Interestingly, Glorfindel actually died in the fall of Gondolin, taking a Balrog with him. When Tolkien calls him an Elf-lord of Old, he means "appearing mystically from the halls of Mandos in Valinor where elves exist after death to save your dumb ass." He doesn't show up in Rivendell after the Ford. It's such an odd choice, especially leaving it all unexplained.



A Clockwork Orange (5) A Good Man Is Hard to Find (4) A Passage to India (6) A Room with a View (3) A Separate Peace (2) Absalom Absalom (6) Achebe (5) Adams (3) All the King's Men (8) An American Tragedy (17) Atlas Shrugged (16) Babbitt (8) back from hiatus (1) baking (11) Baldwin (4) Baum (3) Bonfire of the Vanities (6) borderline (12) Brideshead Revisited (9) Burgess (5) Burroughs (1) canon (1) Capote (6) Cat's Cradle (3) Cather (19) cheesecake (4) Chopin (4) Conrad (5) cooking (25) Death Comes for the Archbishop (6) DeLillo (6) Dreiser (17) du Maurier (2) Edith Wharton (1) emergency (2) Ethan Frome (1) excuses (141) Faulkner (9) Felicia DeSmith (3) Finnegan's Wake (1) Fitzgerald (24) For Whom the Bell Tolls (3) Forster (19) Fowles (7) Franny and Zooey (2) Go Tell It on the Mountain (4) Grahame (2) Guest post (3) Hammett (2) Hemingway (5) hiatus (4) holiday (5) horrible (4) Howards End (6) In Cold Blood (6) In Our Time (1) Irving (6) James (25) Jazz (1) Joyce (1) Keneally (7) Kerouac (5) Kim (7) Kipling (7) Knowles (2) Lady Chatterly's Lover (6) Lawrence (26) Lewis (13) Light in August (3) London (3) Look Homeward Angel (9) Lord Jim (5) Mailer (7) Main Street (5) Midnight's Children (9) Miller (6) Morrison (1) Mrs. Dalloway (3) My Antonia (6) not a novel (4) O Pioneers (7) O'Connor (4) On the Road (5) Orlando (4) other books (7) page updates (1) Rabbit Run (4) Rand (24) Rebecca (2) recap (1) Rhys (6) Rushdie (18) Salinger (2) Schindler's List (7) Sinclair (6) Sons And Lovers (12) Sophie's Choice (10) Star Trek (1) Stein (5) Styron (10) Tender is the Night (10) The Age of Innocence (4) The Autobiography of Alice B. Toklas (5) The Awakening (4) The Beautiful and the Damned (8) The Bostonians (9) The Call of the Wild (3) The Fellowship of the Ring (5) The Fountainhead (8) The French Lieutenant's Woman (7) The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy (2) The Jungle (6) The Lord of the Rings (16) The Maltese Falcon (2) The Naked and the Dead (7) The Naked Lunch (1) The Old Man and the Sea (1) The Portrait of a Lady (10) The Return of the King (6) The Satanic Verses (9) The Two Towers (5) The War of the Worlds (4) The Wind in the Willows (2) The Wings of the Dove (6) The Wonderful Wizard of Oz (3) The World According to Garp (6) Things Fall Apart (6) This Side of Paradise (6) Thomas Wolfe (9) To the Lighthouse (3) Tolkien (16) Tom Wolfe (6) Triv (2) Tropic of Cancer (6) unworthy (33) Updike (4) vacation (2) Vonnegut (3) Warren (8) Waugh (9) Wells (4) Wharton (4) Where Angels Fear to Tread (4) White Noise (6) Wide Sargasso Sea (6) Women In Love (8) Woolf (10) worthy (25)