The Pros and Cons of Moria

With only two days left before we reach Moria (and I am forced to take a hopefully short break from following Frodo’s journey), I want to talk a bit about the decision making skills of the Fellowship. Before being attacked by the Wargs (discussed here), Gandalf and pals were discussing the merits and drawbacks of using a certain troublesome passageway. Let’s glance in on their process.

Gandalf and Aragorn had been privately debating whether or not to enter the Mines of Moria for some time now, and it’s only at this point when they propose it to the group. Both present reasons for using it and avoiding it. Since it’s scattered throughout dialog and ramblings, let’s break it down into a traditional list of pros and cons – starting with the Cons, since that’s where the Fellowship started.


  • “Not a pleasant way.”
  • Aragorn originally against it.
  • Even the hobbits knew it as a “legend of vague fear.”
  • Unsure whether it would come out on the other side of the Misty Mountains. (This is a big one, I think.)
  • Name is an “ill omen.” (Boromir)
  • Enemy might be watching all roads, including the one through Moria. (Boromir, again)
  • Could be a trap, “hardly better than knocking at the gates of the Dark Tower itself.” (Boromir)
  • “If there are Orcs there, it may prove ill for us.” (Gandalf)
  • Though Gandalf and Aragorn had both been there before, neither had attempted to go all the way through it.
  • Aragorn’s visit left him thinking it was “very evil” and that he did not “wish to enter Moria a second time.”
  • Bill can’t come.


  • Fellowship was now more desperate after the Redhorn Pass failure.
  • Would allow Fellowship to “vanish from sight for a while.”
  • “That is a road at any rate that the Enemy will least expect us to take.”
  • It’s not the “dungeons of the Dark Lord.”
  • Most of the Orcs from the Misty Mountains were “scattered or destroyed in the Battle of Five Armies.”
  • Eagles report that the Orcs are gathering “from afar, but there is hope that Moria is still free.”
  • There’s a small chance that Dwarves such as Balin are there.
  • Gimli’s going.
  • Gandalf and Aragorn had both been there before (however, see the Con list).
  • Aragorn’s reluctantly going.
  • There are no Wargs in the mines (you know, probably).

But then there was Boromir’s suggestion. Since the Redhorn Pass was blocked by snow and a fairly pissed off mountain, he wondered why they couldn’t just continue south, “until we come to the Gap of Rohan, where men are friendly to my people, taking the road that I followed on my way hither.”

When Boromir left Minas Tirith, he tramped his way across Rohan, going right past Isengard. To this, Gandalf made a pretty fine point. Now that they had the One Ring with them, it was an incredibly bad idea to parade it right in front of Saruman who had been looking for the Ring for literally hundreds of years.

Boromir also suggested crossing the Isen into Langstrand (Anfalas) and then into Lebennin, “and so come to Gondor from the regions nigh to the sea.” (Here’s a map.)

This was actually a pretty good idea. They could continue south, pass through the White Mountains and loop around to come to Minas Tirith from the south. But Gandalf also shot down this suggestion: “we cannot afford the time.”

He thought that such a journey would take a year. The land they would be passing through was “empty and harbourless.” Finding forage or friends would be next to impossible. Also, since this was a good idea, both Sauron and Saruman probably figured they would attempt it, and scouts would be posted throughout hoping to find the Ring.

Boromir had left Minas Tirith on July 4th. It was now January 13th and many things had changed as far as Boromir’s status was concerned. When he made the journey that past summer, he was just one guy making his way through Gondor. But now he was with the Fellowship of the Ring. “You are in peril as long as you remain with us,” said Gandalf. “The danger will increase with every league that we go south under the naked sky.”

Two Warg attacks later and it was all “we must reach the doors before sunset!” And nobody thought Moria a bad idea (though, to their credit, nobody but Gimli was all that excited by the prospect). The Fellowship continued on, led by Gandalf and Gimli, but when they came to the Sirannon River, it was dry. In five miles, (tomorrow for us) they’ll be at the Gates of Moria!

Camera: Polaroid Colorpack 2 || Film: fuji FP-100c (negative scan)

Camera: Polaroid Colorpack 2 || Film: fuji FP-100c (negative scan)

A Few Notes

  • I don’t think it’s ever really explained why the Sirannon was dry. I mean, it was because it had been dammed to form a lake, but why? Was it natural? Orc/Man/Elf/etc-made? Maybe I’ll go into that tomorrow.
  • Poor Bill!
  • I’ll be doing another post or two about the Gate of Moria, but that’s all the farther we’ll go with the Fellowship for a bit due to me being laid up and unable to exercise. I’ve had a couple suggestions on what I might write about (hoping that I’ll feel anything like writing). More are certainly welcome.

About the Photo
“Rounding the corner they saw before them a low cliff, some five fathoms high, with a broken and jagged top. Over it a trickling water dripped, through a wide cleft that seemed to have been carved out by a fall that had once been strong and full.”

This is a bit taller than thirty feet (five fathoms) high, but the photo is also a bit of an optical illusion, so hey. I considered using this shot of it as well.

  • Day 160
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 789 (335 from Rivendell)
  • 5 miles to the Doors of Moria
  • 102 miles to Lothlórien
  • 990 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place in the narrative: Book II, Chapter 3. Along the dry bed of the Sirannon very near to the Gate of Moria. 21st day out of Rivendell. January 13, 3019 TA. (map)


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