He Almost Welcomed the Coming of Night

Our heroes can go no farther on this day, and stop to sleep on a slope that runs down to the River Bruinen.

Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 12 (p212, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
After nearly a week of heavy-lifting, I think it’s time for a bit of a rest for me, too. But check out the last two sentences before the break:

“Frodo’s pain had redoubled, and during the day things about him faded to shadows of ghostly grey. He almost welcomed the coming of night, for then the world seemed less pale and empty.”

As will be explained later, Frodo was on his way to becoming a wraith. Hobbits, says Gandalf, “face very reluctantly,” even more slowly than “strong warriors of the Big People.” But still, this change was happening quickly.

The last time he felt this bad was the night before, just as they met Glorfindel. But it wasn’t nearly this bad: “Ever since the sun began to sink in the mist before his [Frodo’s] eyes had darkened, and he felt that a shadow was coming between him and the faces of his friends.”

It had been only about twenty-four hours and Frodo had gone from being uneasy with the night to welcoming it. The dark mist and shadow had came between him and his friend making the night a very lonely time. But on this night, the world seemed less empty than before. This wasn’t good at all.

Even with this, which Glorfindel must have been able to guess, they had to stop. The night before, Glorfindel performed some sort of healing on Frodo, which enabled him to see “his friends’ faces more clearly again,” but on this night, there seems as if there was nothing that could be done.

Let me just say that I absolutely love how Tolkien is relating everything back to Frodo being able or unable to see his friends. There was something so much larger at stake here aside from recognizing Sam, Pippin and Merry, but in a more obvious sense, there was nothing more important. Without them, especially Sam, he couldn’t go any farther.

This is not the last time we’ll see this idea. Hell, there’s only two and a half pages to go in this chapter and it’ll come up again.

Speaking of space, at this point, they are about ten miles from the Ford of Bruinen, which is itself eight miles from Rivendell.

A Few Notes

  • In the original printing of Lord of the Rings the road and topography were described in different terms. It was first published in 1954 as: “the Road turned right and ran steeply down towards the bottom of the valley, making once more for the river.” In the second edition, published in 1965, it read: “the Road bent right and ran down towards the bottom of the valley, now making straight for the Bruinen.”
  • We’re getting so ridiculously close to the end of Book One! So I’ve got a question – which editions of LotR do you use? I’ve got the big, one volume, 50th anniversary edition and would have no other! But how about you? Do you use a first edition? A paperback? Ebook? Details, friends!
Camera: Polaroid Minute Maker || Film: Fuji FP-100C (negative scan)

Camera: Polaroid Minute Maker || Film: Fuji FP-100C (negative scan)

About the Photo
A bit of a mishap occurred when pulling the exposed photo out of the camera. There’s a ghostly gray, no? There’s a haze between it and the camera. Also, it’s apparently an emo site. Who knew?


  • Day 89
  • Miles today: 4
  • Miles thus far: 440
  • 19 miles to Rivendell
  • 1,339 miles to Mt. Doom
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18 thoughts on “He Almost Welcomed the Coming of Night

    • I hit “post” too soon. I was going to add that I also use Robert Foster’s “A Guide to Middle Earth,” and an *ancient* Cliffs Notes that I needed my first time through to keep the names straight.

      • Foster’s guide is great! Christopher Tolkien actually used it while writing his History of Middle Earth series. If that isn’t a recommendation, I don’t know what is!

  1. I have an old box set I got from my dad… Very minimalist, no art or anything. 2nd edition, published 1982. Very nice and seriously well worn.

  2. I have a boxed paperback set (box long gone) from the ’70s with JRR’s drawings on the covers. I also have a newer boxed paperback set with covers from the movies. The newer version is the one I usually read now; the older is getting rather fragile.

  3. I have the same set I had in high school. They’re the Del Rey mass market paperbak version before the film (I think the same one used since the late 80s). And I have a copy of The Hobbit and The Silmarillion in the same basic style. I searched long and hard to find the last one as they’d stopped making it for a time.

    • I’ve found myself really liking the one volume edition. Makes it so much easier to flip back and forth through the whole of the writing.

      You used to have the seven volume boxed set, right? But it was crappy quality, I think. That’s such a fun way to present the book, with each Book having its own volume. Too bad the quality was so poor.

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