Strider leads our hobbits, including the wounded Frodo, across the Last Bridge, where they find an elf-stone. Once across the river, they begin to pick their way through the rocky Trollshaws.
Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 12 (p200-2, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
Today’s reading covers a bit of ground – about six miles, but a relatively eventful six miles. When I first read the part about the elf-stone, for some reason, it really bothered me. It took me completely out of the story. I have no idea why, because once you know why it’s there, it all makes some sense.
As they left the East Road and started across the Trollshaws, Frodo could see old forts and embattlements staring down at them, and asked Strider who built them. This land used to be part of Rhudaur, one of the three sub-kingdoms of Arnor. This sub-kingdom was the first to fall under the influence of the Witch-king’s land of Angmar. I wrote about all of that here.
Strider then went on to explain that these evil men were all killed in the war that “brought the North Kingdom to its end.” While the war started in 1409 of the Third Age, this last fight, called the Battle of Fornost, did not happen until 1975, or 1,043 years before our story takes place. These old forts were over a millennium old.
After Strider explained this (in much less detail), Pippin asked where he learned about all this history. “The birds and beasts do not tell tales of that sort,” he concluded. This is incredibly fascinating, I think. Pippin completely took for granted (or simply knew) that the birds and beasts
told some sort of tales – though not of this sort. So, what tales do the birds and beasts tell? We know that some birds, like crows, can be spies and report to the Enemy, but what could he mean here?
Before they make their camp for the night, Strider sort of reveals two things about himself that the hobbits seem to miss completely. In answer to Pippin’s question, Strider replies: “The heirs of Elendil do not forget all things past.” He quickly moves on to talk of Rivendell, which the hobbits key upon, ignoring the whole “heir of Elendil” bit, if they would even have known what it meant.
Second, in talking of Rivendell, he says “there my heart is.” Of course, it could mean that he misses the place because he “dwelt there once,” but that hardly seems reason to leave your heart behind. I mean, Tony Bennett didn’t just pass through San Francisco, right? No, his love waits there, above the blue and windy sea! More than likely, he’s talking about Arwen, who I talked a bit about here.
For the hobbits, this was an incredibly difficult part of the journey. Old tree and roots made the scramble over the rocks an exhausting chore.
A Few Notes
- I listened to Kiss’s Alive II LP today, and now whenever I see the name “Strider,” I sing it to the chorus of “Strutter.” Strider! A million dollars to anyone who makes a decent parody of the entire song, singing all about Aragorn. (not actually a million dollars)
- For nearly a week, the proto-fellowship walked only about six miles a day. I’ll therefore be ellipticaling six miles a day to keep up and keep it clean.
- Tolkien again goes into montage mode, so we’ll have time to explore the Last Bridge and Trollshaws in greater detail. Maybe we’ll even dip back into The Hobbit.
About the Photo
When it comes to pictures of bridges, I’ve got you covered. This is the Devil’s Elbow Bridge along Route 66 in Missouri.
- Day 74
- Miles today: 6
- Miles thus far: 362
- 98 miles to Rivendell
- 1,417 miles to Mt. Doom
Today’s stopping place: Book I, Chapter 12. In the Trollshaws, across the River Hoarwell. (map)