Gollum Flaps His Way into Our Story (and Our Hearts)

It’s been awhile, so if you need a quick reminder of my intent with this project, click here.

The passage for today takes the Fellowship to near to the guardroom and the well in Mines of Moria. But I want to back up a little bit and talk about Frodo and his wound suffered by the pierce of the Morgul-blade on Weathertop. Upon reaching Rivendell, he was healed by Elrond, but that didn’t mean he was unchanged.

“His senses were sharper and more aware of things than could not be seen.” Whether this was the effect of the wounding or the effect of the healing, Tolkien never said. Frodo could now see in the dark better than anyone in the party, except Gandalf.

Frodo also “felt the certainty of evil ahead and of evil following.” And so he was already in a paranoid state (warranted or not) when he began to hear “the faint fall of soft bare feet.” When the party would stop, the feet would continue for a step or two more and then stop as well. This was no echo. But he was also unsure of himself.

His new super-vision, as well as potential other effects, combined with the feel of evil all around, had to have made poor Frodo doubt himself. And yet, he was growing more and more certain of these footfalls.

This was, of course, Gollum, whom we met in The Hobbit. Just how he had gotten to Moria, even Tolkien never fully discovered. Writing long after the publication of Lord of the Rings, he devised a path for Gollum that included him crossing the Anduin to escape Mordor, avoiding Lorien (for now), and then coming to Moria in the autumn of the year before Frodo left the Shire.

In this manuscript, Tolkien explained that “what then happened to Gollum cannot be known for certain.” He speculated that he was well-suited for such a life in the mines, obviously from the time he spent under the halls of the Goblin King a few decades before. “No doubt he had intended to use Moria simply as a secret passage westward, his purpose being to fine ‘Shire’ himself as quickly as he could; but he became lost, and it was a very long time before he found his way about.”

Gollum, wrote Tolkien, lived in the western-end of Moria, while the Orcs were mostly in the eastern portions. “It was thus a piece of singular good fortune for Gollum that the Nine Walkers [the Fellowship] arrived when they did.”

Yes! Good fortune, though not just for Gollum. His role in all of this, as Gandalf said to Frodo earlier, was not quite finished.

Gollum’s appearance in the Mines of Moria was always part of Tolkien’s story. In the first draft of the tale, when he was doing little more than taking long notes, he wrote: “Frodo feels dread growing. Perhaps his adventures with the Ring have made him sensitive. While others are keeping up spirits with hopeful talk he feels the certainty of evil creeping over him, but says nothing. He constantly fancies he hears patter of feet of [?some creature] behind – [?this] is Gollum as it proves long after.”

Camera: Argus C3 Film: Fuji Color 200

Camera: Argus C3
Film: Fuji Color 200

A Few Notes

  • I’m a day behind – Frodo heard Gollum’s flappy walk during the ground covered in my previous post (about the cats).
  • What I wanted to write about (and will) was Gandalf’s line: “I have no memory of this place at all!” Gandalf had been to Moria before. I wanted to dig around to find out just when and why. There’s probably not much about it, but it’s worth a look-see.
  • Tolkien’s original draft seems to hint at the idea that Frodo’s new powers came from the Ring. By the time of his final draft, he seems to have backed off from that, at least a bit.

About the Photo
Of course, I don’t really have mine photos (though, being in Washington, it’s not impossible to get them), I do have this cave photo. Actually, it’s a lava tube from Craters of the Moon in Idaho. It’ll do.


  • Day 164
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 809 (355 from Rivendell)
  • 82 miles to Lothlórien
  • 970 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s place in the narrative begins with: It was after nightfall… and ends with …and level but very narrow. Book II, Chapter 3. Inside the gate of Moria! 21st day out of Rivendell. January 13, 3019 TA. (map)

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3 thoughts on “Gollum Flaps His Way into Our Story (and Our Hearts)

    • Wait wait.. Who calls Gollum a cute little blue frog? He is not a nice person, no. But he is a person, and essential to the destruction of the Ring.

      Super thanks for the comment on the photo! I really try to make this thing visually exciting or entertaining or at least not boring. Yay!

      • Someone I met did call him that… I don’t know. Maybe they’d only seen the animated version and thought (rather disturbingly) that the constant “my precious” was adorable…?
        Yes, he is. I sometimes feel sorry for him, but it seems like in the movie they make him into more of an anti-hero than an antagonist… In the book, his “Gollum” side was always stronger than his “Smeagol” side. I also don’t like in the movie how Gollum manages to turn Frodo against Sam. That sucked and it seemed completely out of character to me…
        And now we get to the sheer brilliance of the Lord of the Rings–our protagonist comes to the point when he faces the conclusion of his quest and ends up giving in to the Ring, only to be saved by the intervention of the antagonist whose life he spared. As a writer myself, that is sheer genius.

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