Who was the Lord of the Ring? And Where in Middle-earth was Mordor?

Say what you like about Tolkien, the man didn’t write clunky dialog. It might be heady or a bit much in places, but clunky it was not. Except here:

“‘Hurray!’ cried Pippin, springing up. ‘Here is our noble cousin! Make way for Frodo, Lord of the Ring!'”

Okay, look, Tolkien – I see what you’re doing there. You’re shoehorning the title of the book into a bit of dialog for no real reason at all. It’s clumsy and sounds ridiculously out of place. It’s cringe-worthy.

So that got me wondering when this wording actually came into being. And, don’t you know, it was there from the start: “‘Hullo,’ said Merry, ‘here is our noble uncle. Three cheers for Bingo Lord of the Ring!'”

So fine, Tolkien had a decade or so to change it and he didn’t. I guess that means he really thought it worked. Now, what it led to was Gandalf explaining that: “The Lord of the Ring is not Frodo, but the master of the Dark Tower of Mordor, whose power is again stretching out over the world. We are sitting in a fortress. Outside it is getting dark.”

Gandalf’s line, too, was nearly identical to the first drafts: “The Lord of the Ring is not Bingo, but the Lord of the Dark Tower of Mordor, whose power is growing again, and we are here sitting only in a fortress of peace. Outside it is getting dark.”

So I guess there’s not really much to talk about, right?

Well, how about Mordor? Just where was Mordor? During the first draft of the Rivendell chapters, Tolkien had not yet figured out much beyond the maps used for The Hobbit – thus far, he didn’t need to. Sure, there was some mention of the Fiery Mountain, but that was vague and all he knew was that it was somewhere off the map.

So where was Mordor that this early stage? Apparently, it was in Mirkwood. During the short conversation between Elrond, Gandalf and the hobbits that eventually evolved into the Council of Elrond, Elrond gives the story of Gilgalad battling “Sauron the Magician.” Here’s a bit of it:

“The armies of Elves and Men were joined once more, and we marched eastward, and crossed the Misty Mountains, and passed into the inner lands far from the memory of the Sea. And we became weary, and sickness was heavy on us, made by the spells of Sauron – for we had come at last to Mordor, the Black Country, where Sauron had rebuilt his fortress. It is on part of that dreary land that the Forest of Mirkwood now stands, and it derives its darkness and dread from the ancient evil of the soil.”

But soon after this was written, Tolkien thought it through. After petering out with the first draft of the Rivendell chapters, Tolkien went back to the beginning, fully rewriting the texts. The second chapter was now called “Ancient History” and was a precursor to the published chapter “The Shadow of the Past.”

While this new chapter didn’t tell the Gilgalad story, it did bring us up to speed on Sauron. In it, the narrator explains that as the Elves and dwarves visited Bilbo, they seemed troubled.

“They would seldom, however, say anything very definite. But they constantly mentioned the Necromancer, or the Enemy; and sometimes referred to the Land of Mor-dor and the Black Tower. It seemed that the Necromancer was moving again, and that Gandalf’s confidence that the North would be freed from him for many an age had not been justified. He had flown from Mirkwood only to reoccupy his ancient stronghold in the South, near the midst of the world in those days, in the Land of Mordor; and it was rumoured that the Black Tower had been raised anew.”

A Few Notes
There’s a “Hullo” from Merry in the early draft. It was changed to “Hurray” from Pippin. Why, Tollers, why?

Another fun bit was that Pippin’s/Merry’s bitching about Gandalf had been “saying many cheerful things like that” was there from the beginning as well.

Camera: Imperial Savoy Film: FujiChrome Provia 100F (not expired)

Camera: Imperial Savoy
Film: FujiChrome Provia 100F (not expired)

About the Photo
I need more photos of towers, that’s for sure. I’m not really sure how to go about that. But I’ll see what I can do. There are quite a few towers all up in this bitch.


  • Day 106
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 530 (77 from Rivendell)
  • 390 miles to Lothlórien
  • 1,248 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Book II, Chapter 3. Still moving southeast along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. Fifth night out from Rivendell. December 28-29, 3018TA. (map)

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4 thoughts on “Who was the Lord of the Ring? And Where in Middle-earth was Mordor?

  1. Interesting take! I always took that exclamation on Pippin’s part to be a bit of a tongue-in-cheek joke…intentionally over-shooting the mark for the sake of levity and comedy.

    That is, I read it as Pippin knows of course that Frodo isn’t the Lord of anything…let alone the Lord of the Ring. He was being, I thought, ironic…trying to be cheerful after such a gloomy period, and also genuinely celebrating Frodo’s recovery from his wound and his “overcoming” the power of the Ring…at least for now.

    Gandalf, of course, brings it all straight back down to reality with his admonishment of Pippin, which of course led to one of my favourite lines, “Gandalf has been saying many cheerful things like that.”

    • Thanks!

      Yeah, that’s probably it. Pippin being sassy and Gandalf putting him in his place by saying gloomy things. That was their repartee.

      Still, it seemed shoe-horned into the story and always felt clunky to me.

    • Oh I love the Washington Monument. That whole are of Maryland is one of my favorite places. I used to be there at least once a month when I lived in PA. We didn’t have the time to hit it this past summer, but next time.

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