The Years Really Start to Add Up – Gandalf Continues

When last I left you, I gave you a fairly detailed time line of the White Council and complained bitterly that they were sort of poky. I am lamented that Gandalf believed Saruman’s lie about the Ring rolling down the Anduin into the Sea. For shame, Gandalf! You’re better than that!

But as we continue with the Council of Elrond, we see that Elrond himself takes on some of the blame. Actually, Elrond blames the entire White council. “We were all at fault,” he says, though doesn’t really go into detail.

Gandalf went on to explain why he searched for Gollum and how he came to think that Bilbo’s Ring might be the One Ring. This idea actually came from Saruman, who, because of his own research into it, was able to describe it.

The old Wizard covers a lot of ground here as far as time is concerned. If we take a look at the Tale of Years, we see that nearly fifty years had elapsed between the last meeting of the White Council and Bilbo’s farewell party – where Gandalf began to really suspect the ring to be the Ring. Fifty years.

Then eight more years pass before Gandalf even begins to wonder how the Ring came to Gollum (as per Bilbo’s story). It’s another eight years before Aragorn and Gandalf begin to search for Gollum, but by that time Gollum was wandering toward Mordor and was captured. But it was only then, a year before our story began, that Gandalf finally thought about Saruman’s description of the Ring at the last White Council meeting – sixty-four years prior., the year before our story begins, Aragorn captured Gollum in the Dead Marshes and Gandalf visits Minas Tirith and finds Isildur’s scroll.

I wrote in detail about the scroll here, so I won’t go into now.

At any rate, Gollum escaped, and it was at the Council of Elrond when everyone found out. It’s Legolas who spoke up, not realizing that Gollum was connected to the whole thing. Seriously, the lack of communication here is astounding.

This happened in June. It is now November. Why the hell didn’t Thranduil get word to Rivendell about this? Even if he didn’t know Rivendell was involved, he should have figured that Gandalf would at least pass through there. But no. It’s five months before anyone finds out. Again – communication, people.

At this, Gandalf is pretty resigned, and says: “We have no time to seek for him again. He must do what he will. But he may play a part yet that neither he nor Sauron have foreseen.” Ohh, I’d say so, yes.

Gandalf now settles in to tell “the last chapter in the Tale of the Ring.” And this is the part I’ve been waiting for. Why was Gandalf delayed? So much relied upon him meeting up with Frodo, and he failed to do so. We’ll find out why tomorrow (and we’ll find out the origins of Treebeard the day after – promise!).

A Few Notes

  • This whole section is pretty important and fun, but for some reason, I just can’t get into it enough to even write about. There’s very little to it apart from a timeline. And sure, it’s interesting, but Tolkien went into greater detail in “The Hunt for the Ring,” which appears in Unfinished Tales. Read the version in Lord of the Rings, of course, but then go read the other one.
  • Aragorn’s line: “If a man must needs walk in sight of the Black Gate, or tread the deadly flowers of Morgul Vale, then perils he will have.” is, perhaps, the greatest understatement of the saga.
  • After a few days off, I realize that I’m pretty off my game. Sorry about that. Things will pick up, I promise.
Camera: Agfa Clack  Film: Kodak Ektachrome 64x (expired in mid90s)

Camera: Agfa Clack
Film: Kodak Ektachrome 64x (expired in mid90s)

About the Photo
There’s something about this fountain that reminds me of Rivendell. I’m not really sure what it is, as it doesn’t at all look like something the Elves would make. Was it a gift? Maybe it was something made in Eregion when that Annatar fellow was hanging around.


  • Day 141
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 696 (242 from Rivendell)
  • 98 miles to the Doors of Moria
  • 225 miles to Lothlórien
  • 1,083 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place in the narrative: Book II, Chapter 3. Marching south along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. 16th night out from Rivendell. January 8-9, 3019 TA. (map)

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12 thoughts on “The Years Really Start to Add Up – Gandalf Continues

  1. Yes, the fountain’s of Eregion, I’d say. It’s cool that you’re within 100 miles of Moria now.

    I agree with you about this passage. It’s important, but it’s always seemed to drag to me. Thanks for reminding me about the The Hunt for the Ring. I’m getting ready to do a few pieces on Gollum. I don’t know if I’ll use it – so far I’ve stuck to LOTR, the Silmarillion and The Hobbit – but I’ll definitely consult it.

    • Oh definitely consult it. His later writings on this stuff shine a different light on what he wrote in LotR. The Silm stuff is later, too, but his mid to late 60s writing goes to a very next level.

  2. The amount of delay here is CRAZY! I sometimes wonder what Gandalf’s actual days were like during this period. Did he wake up, have a leisurely breakfast, work on some new fireworks, have a smoke, think “One of these days I should check into that ring”, take a walk, etc. For years!

    • That’s basically it, yeah! I mean, sure, they didn’t know. But they knew they didn’t know, and seemed really disinterested in sussing it out. And all that was after Bilbo found the Ring!

  3. It’s funny you should mention Thranduil and communication (or lack thereof). With all the hub-bub of the latest Hobbit films, I was forced (by myself) to reread The Hobbit again (and again) and you know, the big lesson Thranduil supposedly learns is to be more involved in the outside world. You don’t have to love everyone out there or even help in all crises, but staying hidden underground isn’t doing you any favors either. Those events were only a few decades ago. When a slinky creature brought to you by a ranger sent by Gandalf the freakin’ Grey, escapes, regardless of whether or not he knew his true identity or value, I think its newsworthy! Clearly he didn’t remember the lesson.

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