March 28, 3019 – Dol Guldur Attacked by Lórien

Welcome back! We’re still tying up loose ends following the destruction of the Ring. Yesterday we saw the Siege of Erebor broken, and today we’ll take a quick look at the fighting between Lórien and Dol Guldur.

Though we know even less about this battle than we do about the Erebor’s siege, let’s review.

Sauron was based out of Mordor, but he also had a strong presence in Dol Guldur, just across the Anduin from Lothlórien. On March 11, the second day of darkness, when Frodo and Sam were climbing the stairs to Cirith Ungol, Lórien was attacked by the Enemy’s forces.

They were driven back, but attacked again on the 15th, and once more on the 22nd. This attack was also beaten back. However, the forces of Dol Guldur must have been strong enough to make Celebor think twice about continuing a pursuit.

On this day, three days after the destruction of the Ring, he crossed the Anduin and fell upon Dol Guldur. Tolkien tells us basically nothing about this, saying only “destruction of Dol Guldur begins.”

It would take a few days for the destruction to take place, and in the end, it would be Galadriel who would see to it sometime in the next week (we don’t know for certain when).

March 13, 3019 – Shelob’s Final Attack; Sam’s Finest Moment; Minas Tirith Besieged

Things are certainly not looking great for Minas Tirith. There’s trouble on their left, right and – most of all – front. We know how it will all work out, but at this point, nobody else does. Also, this is a pretty huge day for Sam. Maybe Sam’s finest moment ever.

Sam, Frodo, and Gollum

(“It seemed light in that dark land to his eyes that had passed through the den of night.” Book Four, Chapter 9 – Shelob’s Lair)

When last we left our Sam and Frodo, they had just escaped Shelob’s tunnel. Immediately after this escape, Frodo saw the dark morning as one of “sudden hope.” They were out of the lair, but still had to clear Cirith Ungol, the pass. They were running.

But the exit they escaped from wasn’t Shelob’s only exit. Sam’s fear grew, despite his wearing of the Phial of Galadriel, and Sting was glittering in Frodo’s hand.

From Sam’s left, Shelob pounced between them. She ignored Sam and focused on Frodo, whose back was towards her, running. Sam tried to call out to him, but Gollum attacked him, throttling the hobbit by his throat. Sam was able to wrestle free and crack Gollum’s wrist with Faramir’s staff. Sam hit Gollum again, breaking the staff over his back. Sam grabbed his sword, and Gollum skittered away.

Meanwhile, Shelob attacked Frodo, wrapping him in her web. Sam quickly grabbed Sting, which Shelob had knocked out of Frodo’s hand, and cleaved off one of her feet before stabbing her in her damn face from below. Go Sam! And with hardly a moment lost, he slashed her underbelly. It hardly did any damage at all to her exoskeleton, but there was a wound, and poison dripped out of it.

Sam was under the spider, and she hoped to smother him to death with her body. Unaware that Sam was still holding the blade, she stabbed herself, driving Sting into her body while trying to crush poor Sam. But Sting bit hard, and repelled her. This gave Sam a few seconds kneel by Frodo and assess how he was doing. Not well. Sam was pissed.

She was about to spring on him again for a killing blow, but called upon Galadriel. Then, out of nowhere, Sam unleashes a string of Sindarin at Shelob. He threatened her and the Phial grew brighter. This freaked Shelob the hell out. She tried to escape, and did, but not before Sam hacked off another leg or two. She was gone. Sam was left alone with the unconscious Frodo, poisoned by Shelob’s venom.

Sam, of course, thought Frodo was dead. What was he to do? Give up? Go on? Go home? Sam wept and held Frodo’s cold hand. In time Sam resolved to take the Ring and go one. He was the last of the Fellowship. He took the Ring and vowed to return to Frodo’s body “when the job’s done.”

He began to walk and climb out of the pass of Cirith Ungol when he hear Orc voices. They were coming closer, closing in from all sides. Sam put on the Ring. The Orcs were all around him and around Frodo. The Orcs took Frodo’s body with them, heading back to their tower. Invisible, Sam followed them into Shelob’s tunnels.

Through the Ring, Sam could understand the language of the Orcs. It seems to be “translated” into Sam’s own Shire-speak. It’s all very fun. Anyway, the Orcs went into a hidden passage and Sam couldn’t follow. He could hear them, however, and they knew there were two – Frodo and himself. Only, they thought it was a large Elvish warrior, not another Hobbit. But the important thing was Shagrat telling Gorbag that “This fellow isn’t dead!”

The voices were moving away, and so Sam was able to scramble over the rock door and follow them. He made a move to attack them and rescue Frodo, but he misjudged the distance. They were far ahead. As they closed a gate behind them, Sam threw himself against it and was knocked out.

He would be unconscious until the morning of the next day. And thus Frodo and Sam have finally left the Two Towers volume.

If you’re curious, pretty much everybody else left it on March 6th, eight days before.

Gandalf, Pippin, Denethor and Faramir

(“The bells of day had scarcely rung out again, a mockery in the unlightened dark…” Book Five, Chapter 4 – The Siege of Gondor)

If the fighting abated through the night, it did not do so for long. Morning brought the full retreat from Osgiliath and an attack on the walls of the Pelennor, which the Enemy was using explosives to breach.

By mid-morning, Gandalf returned from the front. Visiting Denethor and Pippin, Gandalf told them that Faramir was still alive and with the rear guard. They hoped to hold the wall.

But there was worse news. Fugitives had been streaming into Minas Tirith from Cair Andros in the north. Another army was on the move, having crossed the River Anduin. Denethor knew this already and had a plan.

That afternoon, the wounded and retreating men from the walls began to enter the city. The outskirts were on fire by evening, and this fire was moving closer. There was hope, but it was dwindling as the Enemy drew closer to the city itself.

With nightfall, the main army that once held the walls was at the city, and the rear guard, still commanded by Faramir, was all that stood between the Enemy and the gates. The Nazgûl flew above them. This set the men of Minas Tirith into a rout.

Denethor’s plan was for every horseman in the city to form up and wait for his signal. Most of this sortie was made up of swan-knights of Dol Amroth, one of the few Gondorian forces not from Minas Tirith proper. Originally from Belfalas along the coast. Led by Prince Imrahil and Gandalf, the 700 or so men attacked, saving the rear guard from annihilation.

Gandalf’s presence dealt with the Nazgûl and the swan-knights handled the advanced forces of the Enemy. The advance was halted with great slaughter With that, Denethor recalled his forces. When they returned, the saw the Faramir was desperately injured, perhaps pierced by a dart fired from one of the Nazgûl. This was bad.

Denethor hardly acknowledged his apparently dying son, instead, he consulted his Palentír.

Rohan was no longer expected, blocked by the Enemy who crossed at Cain Andros. Of course, they could not know that the Riders of Rohan were now encamped in the Druadan Forest, just north of Minas Tirith.

The city was besieged, and now it was only a matter of time.

Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas, and the Army of the Dead

(Most of this information comes from “The Tale of Gimli and Legolas” as published in War of the Ring.)

The day previous, Aragorn’s column drove the enemy before him to Pelargir, a large Gondorian city on the Anduin. On this day, they would attain victory.

They rode through the night, fighting as they went. Rumors from the countryside around them held that it was not Aragorn who was leading the column, but Isildur come back from the dead.

These rumors caused great fear in the enemy as they fled toward the Anduin. When Aragorn and his men drew closer to the river, they saw the great harbor and the enemy’s ships within in – the fleets of Umbar.

Here, they fought, and the fear within their enemy was their greatest weapon. Some of the enemy escaped, to be sure. But many more were scattered and unable. Orcs were left to guard these empty ships.

Many Gondorians who had been liberated by Aragorn had fallen in with his ranks, bolstering his numbers. In the weeks before Aragorn arrived, the enemy had scoured the land capturing slaves, and holding them on their ships. Now, seeing the coming army under Aragorn, Isildur heir, the slaves on the ships of Umbar rebelled and overthrowing their masters, liberating themselves from their bondage.

A few of the ships were set on fire by the enemy, but most were abandoned. By nightfall, the many ships left in the fleet were under Aragorn’s command.

The following morning, they would set course for Minas Tirith.

February 16, 3019 – Leaving Lothlórien

Welcome to February 16, 3019 of the Third Age. The Fellowship are about to depart Lothlórien, but first let’s talk about Gandalf.

The Wizard in White

During Frodo’s vision the night previous, he (and Galadriel) saw a Wizard-looking fellow who “was clothed not in grey but in white, in a white that shone faintly in the dusk; and in its hand there was a white staff.” At first he thought it was Gandalf, but with the whole white thing, he wondered if it was Saruman.

Galadriel, it seems, figured it out: Gandalf was still alive. Or alive again. At any rate, he was alive. It was probably on this morning that she summoned Gwaihir the Eagle to find Gandalf.

The First Part of a Long Good-bye

“In the morning, as they were beginning to pack their slender goods, Elves that could speak their tongue came to them and brought them many gifts of food and clothing for the journey.”

After waking, a company of Elves paid them a visit. Among other things, they gave them lembas (which I explored here). They (basically) magic cloaks.

The Fellowship ate breakfast and then Haldir dropped by to show they the way out of Lórien. He had been on the Northern Fences, and reported that “There are noises in the deeps of the earth.” Maybe the Balrog’s death was causing a bit of drama among the ‘older and fouler things’ living below.

After a ten mile walk, they arrived on the banks of the Tongue – the confluence of the Silverlode and Anduin. There they were given three (basically) magic boats and some hithlain rope of the Elvish variety.

The Fellowship arranged themselves in the three boats, with Aragorn, Frodo and Sam in one; Boromir, Merry and Pippin in the other; and Legolas and Gimli in the last. The only explanation for any of this was that Legolas and Gimli “had now become fast friends,” which is really a wonderful thing. I love those knuckleheads.

Galadriel’s Gifty Gifts

They paddled up Silverlode, rounded a bend, and saw Galadriel, etc. She was singing a sad and sweet song.

Her song is one of my favorites, and tells us much about her. If you haven’t already, give it a re-read.

But if of ships I now should sing, what ship would come to me,
What ship would bear me ever back across so wide a Sea?

Maybe it’s a rhetorical question, but it’s one that gave Tolkien decades of afterthought. Galadriel’s fate was pondered by him until his death. I talk a bit about that here and here.

Galadriel also gave them a slew of gifts (and Celeborn doubtless scribbled his name on the card). Aragorn received a sheath for this sword and the Elftone of the House of Elendil! If you remember, Aragorn’s grandmother had predicted that he would wear a green stone – and now he had one! Huzzah!

Boromir got a belt because everyone was tired of seeing him show his arse. Merry and Pippin also got belts, though probably not for the same reasoning (maybe). Legolas got a bow, which was better than those nasty and stupid Mirkwood bows.

Sam got an ominous box with a silver “G” stamped on the lid. G was for Galadriel, but also Garden. It was soil from her orchard and would do nothing at all to help his journey, but everything once it was time again to rebuild. Don’t lose it!

Gimli wasn’t going to get anything at first (which is typical Elvish dickishness), but asked for a single strand of Galadriel’s hair. He got three, and a kick ass prediction. She said that she no longer foretold the future, but that if they won then “your hands shall flow with gold, and yet over you gold shall have no dominion.” So, if she no longer foretold the future, what the hell was that?

Frodo received a small crystal phial containing “the light of Eärendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain. It will shine still brighter when night is about you. May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out. Remember Galadriel and her Mirror!”

Good-bye to Galadriel and the Other Guy

And then, after a song or two, the Fellowship was off!

“The travellers now turned their faces to the journey; the sun was before them, and their eyes were dazzled, for all were filled with tears. Gimli wept openly.”

It was 400 or so miles to Minas Tireth, and certainly nothing would go wrong before that, right?

So the Company went on their long way, down the wide hurrying waters, borne ever southwards.

Somewhere in the dark of the shadows, a weird little flapping Gollum was watching.

When’s Next?

Tomorrow! We’ll be basically daily from here on out. Exciting! Hopefully I can keep up.

Camera: Argus C3 (c1957)
Film: Tasma Mikrat 300 (x-1975); 6iso
Process: Xtol; 1+2; 8min; 21C

February 15, 3019 – The Mirror of Galadriel and Preparing to Leave

Today is February 15, 3019 of the Third Age, the day when Sam and Frodo looked into Galadriel’s Mirror. We’ve got a lot to cover, so let’s get on it.

Book Two, Chapter 7: The Mirror of Galadriel
“One evening Frodo and Sam were walking together in the cool twilight. Both of them felt restless again.”

The Curious Incident of the Mirror in the Night Time

After staying in Lothlórien for a few weeks, Sam and Frodo were walking at night, talking about Elves and how the Fellowship would soon have to leave and continue their quest. Frodo mentioned his desire to see Galadriel once more, and with that, she appeared. “She spoke no word, but beckoned to them.” They came to her and she led them to the Mirror, telling them, “I have brought you here so that you may look in it, if you will.”

She further explained to the awe-struck hobbits that she could command the Mirror to reveal many things. To some people, though she didn’t mention who, she could show what they wanted to see. The Mirror would also show things that people didn’t want to see, “and those are often stranger and more profitable than things which we wish to behold.”

So apparently, Galadriel had a Mirror that could show some people what they wanted to see, but it could also show (even those people?) things they didn’t want to see, and when it did, it was better for them. This makes some sense. It’s usually better to not have our opinions and feelings reinforced when we’re trying to learn new things. But she went on.

Though she claimed to be able to command the Mirror to reveal many things, she couldn’t or wouldn’t do that now for Sam and Frodo. Galadriel wanted the Mirror to freestyle it on the hobbits. Where before she said that she could command the Mirror, here she wanted them to “leave the Mirror free to work.” And when it did that, she could not tell ahead of time what they would see.

What the Hell, Girl?

Let’s stop here and ask a very important question – just what the hell was she doing? It seems like she could have tailored the Mirror to the hobbits, to the quest, gaining for them some help by guiding it to show them things they didn’t want to see. She made the claim that she could facilitate that. But instead of doing that – instead of being obviously helpful – it seems as if she just wanted to see what would happen if the hobbits took on the Mirror by themselves.

That’s fine enough, but then she explained what the Mirror could do: “it shows things that were, and things that are, and things that yet may be. But which it is that he sees, even the wisest cannot always tell.” And now our question really becomes important – just what the hell was she doing? Even under her guidance, the Mirror would show past, present and future, but it was so muddled that most couldn’t tell which was which! And instead of guiding the hobbits, she wanted them to work it on their own.

How is this not endlessly reckless? How can even the wisest act upon this, knowing that what he perceives as the future, might not just be not the future, but might just as well be the past? How could the one who had gazed into the Mirror even begin to parse its depths? And most importantly, how could Galadriel think this was a good idea?

Sam’s Vision

Sam was first up (after Frodo didn’t reply), and he wanted to see what was going on in the Shire. But what the Mirror showed Sam was a future where Frodo was stung by Shelob. This dissolved in Sam’s wish. The trees of the Shire were cut down, a new mill was erected, and Bagshot row was dug up.

Sam wanted to return home, but Galadriel reminded him that he couldn’t go back alone.

Galadriel then brought up a pretty good point. “You did not wish to go home without your master before you looked in the Mirror, and yet you knew that evil things might well be happening in the Shire.” And she again reminded him that her Mirror could show many things, including the future, so the things he saw might not have happened yet. What’s more, she told him that if he stayed true to the quest, the things he saw might be prevented, adding in the end, “The Mirror is dangerous as a guide of deeds.”

Yes! Yes it is! So what the hell was she doing? Sam sat down and was immediately in despair over having ever come on this journey. Soon, he resolved to continue it, in the hopes of making it back to the Shire someday.

Ultimately, it could be argued that while the Mirror gave him doubts and fears that he hadn’t had prior to looking into it, it also strengthened Sam’s resolve to stay with Frodo.

Frodo’s Vision

With Frodo, Galadriel played it cool. When he asked her if he should look, she even advised against it, saying that she wouldn’t “counsel you one way or the other.” What he would see, if he saw anything, “may be profitable, and yet it may not. Seeing is both good and perilous.”

But she was not done with the pitch. After playing coy and flippant, she slid toward encouragement: “Yet I think, Frodo, that you have courage and wisdom enough for the venture, or I would not have brought you here. Do as you will!” Under all the layers of nonchalance and indifference, she had brought them to the Mirror specifically so they could look in it. And while she certainly didn’t force either to look, she knew what to say to both in order to convince them to do what she wanted them to do.

Frodo agreed to look, and saw a series of things. First was a wizard in white which gave Frodo doubts – was it Gandalf or Saruman? He then saw Bilbo in his room in Rivendell. The table was littered with papers. The vision then turned to history (maybe the history which was written on those disordered papers), reminding him how he was involved in these great stories.

His vision changed again, now to the sea, in a scene that seems like it could be from Elendil’s escape from Númenor. Still in the past, he saw a city next to a wide river (Osgiliath and the River Anduin), and then a white fortress with seven towers (Minas Tirith).

The vision then turned to the future, though Frodo, of course, couldn’t tell one from the other. He saw Aragorn’s ships arriving at Minas Tirith before the Battle of the Pelannor Fields. He then saw the battle itself, with fire and smoke, which dissolved into a mist where he saw a small ship, “twinkling with lights” passing away – Frodo’s own ship sailing to the West.

And just as Frodo was ready to look away, the Mirror went dark and empty like an abyss. And in it “appeared a single Eye that slowly grew, until it filled nearly all the Mirror.” The eye then searched for something, and Frodo knew that it was looking for him (along with many other things). He also knew that the Eye could not see him unless he [Frodo] willed it. The Ring on a chain around his neck grew heavy and weighed him down toward the Mirror, as if it were pulling toward the Eye. The Mirror grew hot and steam came up from it as Frodo drew nearer to it. Galadriel reminded him not to touch the water. The spell was broken, and the vision disappeared.

The Eye

While Galadriel didn’t address any of the first bits of Frodo’s vision, she had a bit to say about the Eye – “for that is also in my mind.” The Eye wasn’t actually in the Mirror. It wasn’t using the Mirror to look for Frodo. Rather, it was a vision of the Eye looking for Frodo. And since this vision was also in Galadriel’s mind, it’s a safe assumption that she put it there herself after saying she wouldn’t effect the Mirror one way or the other.

She then told Frodo not to be afraid. The Dark Lord, she said, was also looking for her and for Lothlórien, “and he gropes ever to see me and my thought. But still the door is closed!”

The Rings

Following the visions, Galadriel showed Frodo her Ring, Nenya, explaining that the keepers of the Elven rings cannot be hidden from the Ring-bearer. If the One Ring was not destroyed, Sauron would know the location of the three Elven Rings, and that would be pretty bad.

On the other hand, if the One Ring was destroyed, the three Elven Rings would be powerless. Either way, the Elves were basically done with the whole Middle-earth thing.

Discouraged, Frodo offered the One Ring to Galadriel. That didn’t go over well, and she seemed to accuse him of tempting her.

“Gently are you revenged for my testing of your heart at our first meeting. You begin to see with a keen eye.”

This says a whole hell of a lot more about Galadriel than it does Frodo. She did want the Ring, of course. But couldn’t take it. “For many long years I had pondered what I might do, should the Great Ring come into my hands, and behold! it was brought within my grasp.”

I went into much more detail about this here.

Moving on, she refused the Ring and “passed the test … I will diminish, and go into the West, and remain Galadriel.” I talked about what that means here.

The Coming Farewell

That night the company started Chapter 8: Farewell to Lórien. They didn’t have to go home, but they couldn’t stay there. The Fellowship met with Galadriel and the other guy, and discussed exactly how they were leaving (boats down the Anduin).

It was their last night in Lothlórien. The talked about what was to happen next. Boromir wanted to go home (though he wasn’t super whiny about it), but he also hinted that he wanted to use the Ring to save Minas Tirith. Frodo was a little freaked out by this.

It’s late now, so good-night! See you tomorrow!

Camera: Smena 8M
Film: GAF Super Hypan; 50iso (x-1970s)
Process: HC-110; 1+100; 60min

January 23, 3019 – Lothlórien and the Battle of the Peak

Greetings, and welcome to January 23, 3019 of the Third Age. There’s not a whole lot going on today, at least on the surface.

Book Two, Chapter 7: The Mirror of Galadriel
“They remained some days in Lothlórien, so far as they could tell or remember.”

The Discomfort of Guests

In Lothlórien, the Fellowship minus Gandalf are basically just hanging out. Tolkien devoted a page and a half to the “some days in Lothlórien, so far as they could tell or remember,” among the Elves. At this point, they had been five days, and were just getting into the flow of things.

The sun was mostly shining, and it felt like early spring. Galadriel was busy doing Galadriel things and they hadn’t seen her since. Likely, she was trying to figure out if Gandalf was still alive (we’ll get to him in a minute).

They hadn’t even seen Haldir since their first night there. He went back to his day job watching the fences of the North.

Almost nobody spoke their language, and it doesn’t seem like anyone who did had anything much to say to them. Legolas checked out after the first night, preferring the company of Elves. Interestingly enough, he took Gimli with him much of the time. A real friendship seemed to be growing here.

There was a lot of down time, which meant a lot of mourning Gandalf. In the following days, this would become their main focus.

And Speaking of Gandalf…

It was on this day (his 9th with the Balrog) that the Fight on Zirakzigil/Silvertine/Celebdil took place. When we last left Gandalf and the Balrog, the former had the latter in retreat. But they had fallen so deep into the earth that Gandalf had to rely on the Balrog’s knowledge to lead him out. So while the Balrog was retreating, Gandalf had to keep up.

The Wizard followed the Balrog – “Ever up now we went, until we came to the Endless Stair.”

The Endless Stair was the stuff of legend. When Gandalf would later tell Gimli and Aragorn about it, Gimli had heard of it, but thought it no longer existed, if it was ever built at all.

But there it was, the Endless Stair.

‘From the lowest dungeon to the highest peak it climbed, ascending in unbroken spiral in many thousand steps, until it issued at last in Durin’s Tower carved in the living rock of Zirakzigil, the pinnacle of the Silvertine.’

There was a window at the top of the tower, and the Balrog squeezed through it to escape. Gandalf followed. Now outside, the Balrog’s fire was rekindled.

I’m honestly not sure why this was. Was the brisk, oxygen-deprived air somehow good for Balrog-fire? No idea.

Anyway, the peak was high above the clouds, and the world below was hidden from them. If anyone had been at the base of the mountain, all they would have seen was a storm above them – lightning, thunder, etc.

They would fight for three days on top of this peak.

Who Called It What?

In the description of the battle, delivered by Gandalf in Two Towers, he uses both “Zirakzigil,” “Silvertine,” and “Celebdil” when referring to the mountain. Did they all mean the same thing?

There were three peaks that stood over the mines of Moria. From north to south they were: Caradhras, Fanuidhol, and Celebdil (all in the Sindarin). In Westron (Common Speech) they were: Redhorn, Cloudyhead, and Silvertine. And in Khuzdul, they language used by Dwarfs, they were: Barazinbar, Bundushathûr, and Zirakzigil.

Gandalf didn’t exactly use them interchangeably. He referred to the mountain as “Zirakigil” immediately after explaining how Durin’s tower was carved. He then clarified by calling it “Silvertine,” in Westron, as he was also talking to Aragorn.

When he called it by the Sindarin name of Celebdil, he was referring to those below looking up. Those closest below (apart from the Orcs) were the Galadrim, the residents of Lórien.

These are wonderful little details employed by Tolkien (and Gandalf) showing incredible empathy for the cultures he was writing about (and speaking to/of).

When’s Next?

We’ll check back in on the 25th to see how the fight’s going.

Camera: Kodak Signet 40
Film: Fuji ProPlus II

I Wrote a LOT About Galadriel

When I started working on this blog four years ago, I wrote a great deal about Galadriel and her darkness. I grabbed some of the text to use in the recent posts, but the vast majority of it doesn’t quite fit in with the current project.

Still, I’d like to collect all of the posts into one, which is why I’ll do here.

The Annals of Galadriel – How Tolkien Created the Unfinished Queen
There is no other character in Tolkien’s legendarium who changed as often and as much as Galadriel, the Lady of Lothlórien. Unlike many of his Elves, she did not come from the older stories. What follows is a timeline detailing Tolkien’s writing of Galadriel and the changes he made.

The First Glimpse of Lothlórien, Some History, and Some Doubts
I wanted to start by giving a bit of a history of the Silvan Elves beginning in the Second Age. How did Lothlórien come to be?

The Stain Upon Lothlorien
I re-used some of this text recently, but you might enjoy the whole thing. We are told that “On the land of Lórien there was no stain.” However, I think I might have found one: xenophobia.

Galadriel Works her Whammy on the Fellowship
Let’s take a closer look at Galadriel’s ability to read peoples’ minds. Much of the last post was taken directly from this one. But here it is in full.

The Dangerous Traditions of Elves and Dwarves
An exploration into the relations between Elves and Dwarves, focusing mostly on Lórien.

Like a Lance in Starlight – The First Appearance of the Lady Galadriel
Here, we’ll take a look into how Tolkien created Galadriel, and when. She wasn’t from the old Silmarillian stores, but a new invention.

Since the Dawning of the Sun – Galadriel’s History in Lord of the Rings
A brief look into the writing history of Galadriel within the Lord of the Rings framework. We’ll also hint at changes to come.

With and Without Galadriel in the Super-Exciting Tale of Years!
Most readers don’t even bother with the Tale of Years. But we’ll take a deep dive to figure out even more about Galadriel.

Sam’s Vision in the Mirror – Just What the Hell was Galadriel Thinking? (Part 1)Frodo’s Vision in the Mirror – Just What the Hell was Galadriel Thinking? (Part 2)
Both of these posts take a close look at Galadriel’s power and motives when it came to her Mirror (which doesn’t happen until the day before they leave Lórien, February 15th). And seriously, what the hell was she thinking?

‘You Will Give Me the Ring Freely!’ – Galadriel Gets Freaky
Let’s find out exactly how Galadriel Feels about the One Ring.

Passing the Test and STILL No Valinor for Galadriel!
Does Galadriel even know if she can return to Valinor? I suspect not.

‘A Queen She Was’ – Of Galadriel and the Rings of Power, Etc… (Mostly Etc.)
A bit of Galadriel’s in-story history.

‘To Rule There A Realm of Her Own Will’ – Galadriel and Why She Came to Middle-earth
Maybe Galadriel is a little darker than we think.

‘But I See Evil There’ – Galadriel’s Omission and Wandering
More of Galadriel’s in-story history.

Galadriel: Globe-Trotter and Realm-Ruler – Beyond the Silmarillion
Let’s look at Galadriel in the later Silmarillion writings.

Celebrimbor Loves Galadriel – Jumping the Shark or Fine Idea for a Spin-off Series?
A review of more of Tolkien’s later thoughts on Galadriel.

‘A Ban Was Set Upon Her Return’ – Tolkien Reinterprets His Own Writing
Was Galadriel actually banned? Did Tolkien ever make up his mind?

Galadriel’s Tragic Pride and Darkness
Tolkien changes his mind in his very late writings.

Tolkien’s Final Words on Middle-earth – Galadriel Unstained
Just what it says – Tolkien’s last words (basically).

Camera: Argus C3
Film: Kodak Elite Chrome (xpro – expired 2003)

January 17, 3019 – Meeting Galadriel and That Other Guy

Welcome to January 17, 3019 of the Third Age. Today the Fellowship enters Lothórien proper and gets to meet Galadriel and her husband. Let’s not dilly dally.

Book Two, Chapter 6: Lothlórien
“In the morning they went on again, walking without haste.”

A Break at Cerin Amroth

For the morning walk, the Fellowship were all still blindfolded. But around noon they stopped and were met by some Elves sent by Galadriel. They told them that they could remove the blindfolds – even Gimli, who was the first Dwarf to look upon Lórien since Durin’s Day.

Even before having his blindfold removed, Frodo was enamored by Lothlorien. But once he could see, so much of it came flooding over him. This was done by direct order from Galadriel herself. Even Gimli the Dwarf was to have his blindfold removed. She knew all about the Fellowship and knew its purpose.

Elves can often be dicks. We see example upon example of this. Even Haldir, when threatening to kill Gimli, was dickish (to say the least). But now all was different and Haldir even apologized to Gimli, who was the first to have his blindfold removed. Of course, that’s a bit diminished by Haldir basically saying “Check out the most awesome place in the world! You are so lucky to see it!” Lothlorien’s Elves were out of touch, especially with Dwarvendom.

When Frodo’s blindfold was removed, he looked around and likened it to “Springtime in the Elder Days.” Just what he knew about the Elder Days is pretty unclear. Bilbo, more than any Hobbit, would be the person to talk to about such thing, and it’s likely he related much of what he knew to Frodo.

Or maybe it was a feeling put well into words. It’s not really all that different from Sam’s rough (but brilliant) estimation: “I thought Elves were all for moon and stars: but this is more Elvish than anything I ever heard tell of. I feel as if I was inside a song, if you take my meaning.”

Frodo felt the same, like “he had stepped through a high window that looked on a vanished world.” And in truth, he did. Haldir explained that Lothlorien, and specifically Cerin Amroth, where they stopped, “is the heart of the ancient realm as it was long ago.”

For some reason we’re not told, Haldir wanted the Fellowship to rest here for a few hours so that they’d “come to the city of the Galadhrim at dusk.” There’s no real reason for him to do this. Maybe Galadriel had to tidy up the place before guests arrived and Haldir was just buying her some time. No idea, though maybe it was for show. As we’ll see later, coming into the city at dusk was quite a sight.

To Frodo’s eyes, everything seemed new and ancient all at once. This seemed to effect him more than any of the others, though Sam was definitely a close second. Even though the colors he saw were nothing new, it was as if he had never seen anything like them before. It seemed as if the world was being recreated just for his viewing. This was, as Haldir explained, “the power of the Lady of the Galadhrim.”

As Haldir led Frodo up the hill, the hobbit “felt that he was in a timeless land that did not fade or change or fall into forgetfulness.” Powerful stuff, to be sure, but an illusion. The hill upon which they stood was drastically changed from the previous age when Amroth built his house in the trees. His house was long gone, a flet (basically a platform) in its place.

As Frodo climbed up the ladder to the flet, his senses were keenly aware. He experienced this a bit when he was blindfolded, which could have been chalked up to having to rely more only upon his other senses. But now, even with sight, he was hyper-aware of everything – not just of the texture of the tree, but “of the life within it.”

“He felt a delight in wood and the touch of it, neither as forester nor as carpenter; it was the delight of the living tree itself.”

When Frodo looked around from atop the tree, he first saw all of Lothlorien, including the Anduin. But when he looked beyond, it was as if he was no longer under the spell of Galadriel, “and he was back again in the world he knew.”

What he saw beyond the river was “flat and empty, formless and vague. “The sun that lay on Lothlorien had no power to enlighten the shadow of that distant height.” The “sun” in this case was actually Galadriel’s power, and the “distant height” was Dol Guldur in Southern Mirkwood, “where long the hidden enemy had his dwelling.”

For what Ciran Amroth meant to Aragorn, see this.

Here Dwell Celeborn and Galadriel

In the late afternoon, the Fellowship, let by Haldir, went on again. In a few miles, they came upon Caras Galadhon, the main city in Lórien. They were to meet with Celeborn and Galadriel.

After a quick exchange of niceties, they got down to business. While Celeborn spoke to them, Galadriel said nothing, “but looked long upon his [Frodo’s] face.” When all eight of them had been sat before the Lord and Lady, Celeborn questioned why there weren’t nine. He figured that maybe Elrond had changed his mind and the messengers never made it to Lothlórien. But Galadriel understood that Elrond had nothing to do with this.

‘Nay, there was no change of counsel,’ said the Lady Galadriel, … ‘Gandalf the Grey set out with the Company, but he did not pass the borders of this land. Now tell us where he is; for I much desired to speak with him again. But I cannot see him from afar, unless he comes within the fences of Lothlórien: a grey mist is about him, and the ways of his feet and of his mind are hidden from me.’

This was the first time we have any idea of Galadriel’s clairvoyance. Somehow she knew that Gandalf had set out with them. As soon as the Fellowship entered Lórien, she was probably aware that something was amiss or missing. It wasn’t until the Fellowship appeared before her that she could read their thoughts and tell that there wasn’t a change of counsel – Gandalf was simply not there. Currently, he was still battling the Balrog.

When she said that she could not see him from afar, exactly what she meant is a bit confusing and can be interpreted in one of two ways. It’s possible that she could usually see him from afar, but couldn’t now because of some external force (the grey mist), probably Sauron. This would go towards explaining how she knew he was originally with the Fellowship. Her sight could now only reach to the fences of Lothlórien.

However, it’s also possible that she meant that her sight only ever reached to those boundaries, and only when Gandalf didn’t show up within them, could she tell that he was missing. This would assume that she was expecting him, which is a pretty fair assumption. The grey mist, in this case, would then be everything outside of the fences of Lothlórien.

I guess It’s also possible that since Gandalf was in a battle with the Balrog under Moria, the inherent evil of the Balrog somehow cast a grey mist blocking her sight. But whatever it was, Galadriel couldn’t see Gandalf and was worried.

At this point, Galadriel stops speaking and Celeborn asks the Fellowship what happened to Gandalf and of their story so far. She speaks up only to chastise Celeborn for implying that “at the last Gandalf fell from wisdom into folly.” She also chastises him for being a dick to Gimli.

Galadriel knew about Frodo’s quest and that he was the Ring-bearer, and that in itself is a bit strange. It’s hard to believe that Elrond would send messengers to Lothlórien with the specifics. They would have news of a group of travelers, yes, but not the specific quest. Somehow or another, Galadriel knew, though when she knew it was never said. It’s possible that she heard from Elrond’s messengers and deduced it, and it’s also likely that she read Frodo’s mind – she was looking at him intently when he entered.

Here, Galadriel informs the Fellowship that she wouldn’t tell them what to do. Instead, she told them that she could see into the past, present and part of the future.

‘And with that word she held them with her eyes, and in silence looked searchingly at each of them in turn. None save Legolas and Aragorn could long endure her glance. Sam quickly blushed and hung his head.’

The gaze she held them in seems similar to how she looked upon Frodo when they first entered. When she was finally finished, they all “felt suddenly weary, as those who have been questioned long and deeply, though no words had been spoken openly.” This was clearly more intense than her prior interaction with Frodo.

Galadriel Gets Creepy

Only after the Fellowship left her chamber did they swap notes on whatever the hell just happened to them. The most innocent and open spoke first. Pippin made fun of Sam for blushing, suggesting that he had a guilty conscious. But Sam was “in no mood for jest.”

‘If you want to know, I felt as if I hadn’t got nothing on, and I didn’t like it. She seemed to be looking inside me and asking me what I would do if she gave me the chance to flying back home to the Shire to a nice little hole with – with a bit of garden of my own.’

Sam was rattled. He didn’t appreciate Galadriel entering his mind, and thought it was an invasion. Merry concurred, and seemed too traumatized to speak of it. Curiously Pippin didn’t share anything with them, and since he poked fun at Sam, maybe he was only gently probed by Galadriel (or maybe Merry took the invasion for both of them).

Gimli also admitted that when Galadriel had entered his mind, also offering a choice, that she told him that nobody would even know if he left the Fellowship. This was either a blatant lie, or she was coyly offering to mind-wipe every other member of the party like she was some kind of Sindarin Man in Black.

At first, Boromir seemed to be giving her the benefit of the doubt. “Maybe it was only a test, and she thought to read out thoughts for her own good purpose….” But that’s quickly tossed aside, when he fairly passively suggests that “she was tempting us, and offering what she pretended to have the power to give.”

Whether Galadriel had the power to actually give what she offered to the hobbits and Gimli is impossible to say. But Boromir seemed incredibly certain that she could not give him what he wanted. But would this exchange ultimately be healthy for the supposedly valiant Boromir?

During the Council of Elrond, Boromir suggested that they use the One Ring to battle Sauron. This was something that would flower later, but at this point it seems that there’s a touch of germination going on. He wouldn’t say what Galadriel had offered him, but whatever it was, he refused to listen because otherwise, he would be betraying his word (apparently to stay true to the Fellowship, though I don’t remember him swearing to anything specific).

Boromir was, like Merry, rattled, but asked Frodo what she had done to his [Frodo’s] mind. Frodo, however, was keeping that close to his breast. Boromir understood and told him: “I do not feel too sure of this Elvish Lady and her purposes.” Aragorn snapped at him: “Speak no evil of the Lady Galadriel!”

However, Boromir wasn’t speaking evil about Galadriel in any sense. Rumor of her had gotten to Gondor, and he was uneasy about Lothlórien in general prior to their arrival. All he was doing was expressing his understandable hesitation to trust a stranger who just probed the innards of his brain, lying to him while doing so.

They soon fell asleep, and would be in Lothlórien for an entire month

When’s Next?

We’ll take a few days off, but be back on the 23rd to catch up with Gandalf!

Camera: Ricoh KR-10 (1980)
Lens: Mamiya-Sekor 55mm; f/1.8; 80B filter
Film: Kono Rotwild 400 CN

Tolkien’s Wizards Before Middle-earth

Greetings! I’d like to take a bit of time while Gandalf makes his way to Saruman at Isengard to talk a little about the history of the Istari, the Wizards of Middle-earth. I’ll take a look at Tolkien’s texts from both The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales.

Some were written as he was fleshing out Lord of the Rings in 1948, while others were penned shortly before his death in 1972. It’s an interesting story, so let’s get to it!

Some Writing Background

The Silmarillion quickly touches upon the Istari and the build up to the War of the Ring. That passage was mostly written by Tolkien as part of the Council of Elrond when he was fleshing out certain bits of Lord of the Rings around 1948. In fact, Christopher Tolkien reckons that his father probably intended it to be used in full, but scaled it back for brevity’s sake.

A few years later, in 1954, Tolkien had another go at the history of the Istari. This can be found in Unfinished Tales. This was actually part of a larger work that Tolkien undertook – the building of an encyclopedic index for The Fellowship of the Ring and Two Towers. This effort actually delayed the publishing of Return of the King but was itself never finished or published.

It was during this period that Tolkien jotted down random ideas as they came to him. This is likely where the origin story for the Istari came in.

The Wizards in Valinor

Basically it’s this – as Sauron was coming to power in Middle-earth, the Valar got together and formed a plan to ultimately check and defeat him. The wished to send three emissaries, but at first couldn’t figure out who should go.

They had to “be mighty, peers of Sauron, but must forgo might, and clothe themselves in flesh so as to treat on equality and win the trust of Elves and Men.”

Clothing a spiritual being (all of the Wizards were Maiar) in flesh “would imperil them, dimming their wisdom and knowledge, and confusing them with fears, cares, and wearinesses coming from the flesh.”

The first two to come forward were Curumo and Alatar. Curumo was Saruman and Alatar would turn out to be one of the mysterious Blue Wizards. Manwë, the head of the Valar, then asked Olórin “who was clad in grey” to be the third messenger.

Camera: Smena 8M
Film: Kodak Tri-X
Processed: Rodinal 1+50 9.5mins

This was Gandalf, of course, and he was selected specifically because he loved the Elves. In fact, he lived in Lórien in Valinor with the Elves and “walked among them unseen, or in form as one of them, and they did not know whence came the fair visions or the promptings of wisdom that he put into their hearts.” and But Gandalf confessed that he was too weak and feared Sauron. Manwë insisted, however, that it was those qualities that qualified him to make the journey.

But here a seed was planted. When Manwë suggested that Gandalf be the “third,” Varda, who was known by the Elves as Elbereth, “looked up and said: ‘Not as the third’. We next learn that Curumo, later known as Saruman the White, “remembered it.”

So even before they left Valinor, Saruman was jealous of Gandalf. Saruman volunteered to go to Middle-earth. He wasn’t selected, he wasn’t specifically asked for by Manwë, he certainly didn’t receive a de facto promotion by Varda.

Gandalf was honestly humble, and rather than disqualifying him from the journey, Manwë praised Gandalf for his weakened qualities.

Of course, this left Radagast and the other Blue Wizard. Radagast wasn’t exactly chosen, but Yavanna begged Saruman to take him as a favor to her. Saruman couldn’t refuse, but this might also explain why he had such a grudge against Radagast the Brown.

As for the other Blue Wizard, we learn that “Alatar took Pallando as a friend,” which is pretty heartwarming and sweet.

Much later in 1972, Tolkien wrote that the Istari “were free each to do what they could in this mission; that they were not commanded or supposed to act together as a small central body of power and wisdom; and that each had different powers and inclinations and were chosen by the Valar with this in mind.”

What’s Next?

On Monday, we’ll continue this story with the arrival of the Wizards in Middle-earth.

The One Ring Amps Up Boromir’s Sass

As the Fellowship drifted farther south on the Anduin towards the rapids at Sarn Gebir, Boromir turned cranky. Maybe the sounds of the crashing water kept him up late the night before, or maybe it was something to do with the lust for the Ring. Whichever, he was not even a little amused when Aragorn suggested that they continue down the river, going over the rapids, all the way to Emyn Muil.

Boromir bitched and moaned about this. “If the Emyn Muil lie before us, then we can abandon these cockle-boats, and strike westward and southward, until we come to the Entwash and cross into my own land.”

First, I realize that “cockle-boats” is just another term for “small boats.” It’s a specific classification of water crafts. But really, isn’t this so much better if “cockle” reads more like some Third Age expletive? Yes. Yes it does.

And almost as important, you’ve no doubt noticed Boromir’s incredibly clever mention of just going to Minas Tirith because obviously that’s where they’re all going anyway, because why the hell wouldn’t you want to go to Minas Tirith, right?

Aragorn thought it was a fine idea to head that way, if Minas Tirith was their destination. Which it wasn’t. Besides, they couldn’t exactly get lost on the River. There was the question of the falls, though. And this is where Boromir laid thick the sass.

…what will you do then? Leap down the Falls and land in the marshes?”

Seriously, this guy is hilarious in Gondor. Leap down the Falls and land in the marshes! Get it? Because the marshes are squishy! Boromir’s rapier-wit was second to none.

But when it was clear that Frodo was going to follow Aragorn, Boromir relented, but not without more sass. They would need his strength, he told them, and “it is not the way of the Men of Minas Tirith to desert their friends at need.” He’d go to Amon Hen, the tall rock on the west bank of the falls, but no farther. “There I shall turn to my home, alone if my help has not earned the reward of any companionship.”

He was really becoming a wet blanket about all of this.

None of this seemed to phase Aragorn at all. He and Legolas left Boromir and Gimli with the hobbits on the River while they searched for a path along he western shore. Aragorn actually told them that if he didn’t return, they’d have to pick a new leader. Fortunately, both returned, and though it doesn’t say it, Boromir probably grumbled a little.

He certainly did when he was told that they’d have to portage. “That would not be easy, even if we were all Men.”

Tolkien devoted exactly one sentence to this most difficult task. Maybe it was his way of getting Boromir to shut his stupid face hole.

In Boromir’s defense, he was a pretty big help in carrying the boats, aided only by Aragorn. Together, they carried all three. His redemption was short-lived as he cracked wise at the expense of a sleeping Gimli.

Several of my previous posts support Boromir more than most readers think right. And that’s okay. In a lot of ways, I like this Boromir fellow. He really is an honorable and good man. Sure, he gets cranky, but who doesn’t? I’d be a complete mess in his shoes.

His undoing was his patriotism and lust for the Ring (which played upon that patriotism). The longer he was exposed to the Ring, the more he wanted it to aid in the defense of Gondor.

Tolkien couldn’t resist one last dig at Boromir before closing the chapter. As they were floating past the Argonath, he wrote that “even Boromir bowed his head.”

Camera: Argus C3 Film: Fuji Sensia II 200 (xpro)

Camera: Argus C3
Film: Fuji Sensia II 200 (xpro)

A Few Notes

  • Because I’m feeling a little “meh” on this post, I thought I’d give you a bit of behind-the-scenes info about what some other folks were doing at this time. Gollum, for one, was still making his way to Emyn Muil, avoiding the Orcs. And speaking of the Orcs, Grishnákh and Uglúk were in the western part of Emyn Muil searching for the Fellowship. Gandalf was on Gwaihir flying to Fangorn. And the First Battle of the Fords of Isen was underway. It’s there that Théoden’s son, Théodred was killed – so ordered by Saruman. This is detailed in Unfinished Tales‘ “The Battles of the Fords of Isen”.
  • For some reason, I’m really apprehensive about writing the last few posts for Fellowship. Mostly, I just want to rip into the Silmarillion, but even before I decided to do that, I just didn’t feel I had a very good grasp on “The Breaking of the Fellowship” chapter.

About the Photo
So why the desert pic? Well, when we were driving through Utah, I looked to my right and saw what I first thought were white statues. After driving past them, I turned around and made the stop. Somewhere during that, my mind convinced itself that they looked a bit like the Argonath. When I snapped more than a few photos of the, I was certain. Now looking at it, I can still sort of see it, but mostly, not. Another version is here. And here.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1264 (370 miles since leaving Lothlórien)
  • 19 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 489 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 24-25, 3019 TA. (map)

Mind-Reading and Telepathy in Middle-earth – Comparing Galadriel to Melkor?

In the Lothlórien chapters, we’re told of Galadriel’s mental abilities of telepathy and mind-reading. Since these are “slippery slope” areas, potentially fraught with the dangers of over-reach and mal-intent, I thought I’d take a closer look at her actions and how it relates to the rest of Tolkien’s work. This is by no means an exhaustive treatise on telepathy in Tolkien’s writings – Tolkien himself did this in an essay entitled Ósanwe-kenta – but rather, a closer look at Galadriel.

We might start by taking a look at mind reading vs. telepathy, as it appears that Galadriel had the ability to do both. Mind reading, by definition, is invasive and could be done against the will of the person whose mind is being read. Telepathy, on the other hand, is simply mental communication between two willing minds.

Our first taste of this with Galadriel is when the Fellowship arrived in Lothlórien (as discussed here). She tried to reach Gandalf with her mind, but could not see him. This was an attempt at telepathy. But there’s also her interaction with Fellowship themselves, a sort of conversation where she offered each something they wanted. Sam described it as feeling “as if I hadn’t got nothing on.”

“She seemed to be looking inside me and asking me what I would do if she gave me the chance of flying back home to the Shire to a nice little hole with — with a bit of garden of my own.”

Boromir, especially, had a problem with this. “Maybe it was only a test, and she thought to read our thoughts for her own good purpose; but almost I should have said that she was tempting us, and offering what she pretended to have the power to give.” He refused to listen and the communication was cut.

On the surface, this appears to be a good example of mind-reading, an attempt to read the Fellowship’s thoughts (I’m going to assume that Boromir was being polite when he called her own purpose “good”) against their will. But was it really?

A fine and clear example of telepathy immediately comes to mind – this, from the end of the book, after the One Ring is destroyed. We’re told that Celeborn, Galadriel, Gandalf and Elrond would sit under the stars and communicate with each other about the old days.

“If any wanderer had chanced to pass, little would he have seen or heard, and it would have seemed to him only that he saw grey figures, carved in stone, memorials of forgotten things now lost in unpeopled lands. For they did not move or speak with mouth, looking from mind to mind; and only their shining eyes stirred and kindled as their thoughts went to and fro.

This, of course, is fully consensual telepathy – just another form of communication. This was similar to when Gandalf had spoken to Frodo with his mind, telling him not to put on the Ring. It was also what Galadriel was trying to do when trying to reach Gandalf as the Fellowship first arrived. This all seems a bit innocent compared to what she attempted to do to the Fellowship themselves. Was she trying to break open their minds to see their caramel and nougatty centers? It wouldn’t be such a stretch to think so, but Tolkien, it seems, would disagree.

In his Ósanwe-kenta essay, he talks about the communication of thoughts, addressing both consensual telepathy and forceful mind-reading. Telepathy was the original form of communication between Illuvatar and all minds. All minds (sámar) “are equal in status, though they differ in capacity and strength.” By nature, one mind will perceive another mind, and be able to tell that it’s a mind. However, that mind cannot perceive more than that “except by the will of both parties.”

We’re told that it’s possible, if both are open, for one to speak to another just like in normal communication. This explains the silent conversation between Gandalf and the Elves from above, but it also seems to cover the worries expressed by Sam and Boromir. Still, it’s obvious they’re not the same.

The stories that were told in the Silmarillion seem to indicate that Melkor (Morgoth, Sauron’s master) penetrated the minds of the Valar and Elves, deceiving them while closing his own mind to them. This might be what it seems, but, as Tolkien explains in this same essay, they (and apparently we readers) were deceived.

He contends that forcing the barrier of the mind is únat (“a thing impossible to be or to be done”). On top of this natural law, there was also an axan (basically a commandment from Illuvatar) that “none shall directly by force or indirectly by fraud take from another what he has a right to hold and keep as his own.” This apparently included thoughts.

Melkor, however, didn’t exactly follow the rules. We’re told that he “repudiated all axani” and “would also abolish (for himself) all únati if he could.” So yes, while Melkor wished that there were no rules, and broke whatever rules he could, there were some that he simply couldn’t break. One of those rules was mind-reading.

He tried to break down this barrier by force of will and fear, but found that they didn’t work. Instead, “he would come by stealth to a mind open and unwary, hoping to learn some part of its thought before it closed, and still more to implant in it his own thought, to deceive it and win it to his friendship.” To do this, he would seem to become a benevolent giver of gifts, a friend with a special love for his target. He would instill this false trust and in that way be able to convince the mind to open to him.

This seems eerily similar to how Galadriel was acting toward the Fellowship. She most definitely used stealth to speak to their open and unwary minds, and did learn things before it was closed. Of course, she didn’t implant her own thoughts or really deceive them to win their friendship, but that wasn’t her purpose. She wanted to learn more about them and was able to do so. It seems like only Boromir closed the connection.

Now, obviously Galadriel wasn’t evil, but, as we’ve seen through the past couple weeks worth of posts about her, she had a clouded side (at best). This was not a fully consensual, two-way conversation. She didn’t (and couldn’t) read their minds, but this Melkor-like trick worked well enough to suit her needs.

Galadriel seemed to be walking a very questionable line along the axan, the commandment from Illuvatar, that “none shall directly by force or indirectly by fraud take from another what he has a right to hold and keep as his own.” While Melkor happily crossed it and was angered that he could not do more, Galadriel seemed to do it without hesitation, but for what appeared to be a better end.

Camera: Argus C3 Film: Eastman 5222

Camera: Argus C3
Film: Eastman 5222

A Few Notes

  • The Ósanwe-kenta essay does not appear in the History of Middle-earth series. No idea why. You can read an annotated version of it here (it’s a PDF).
  • While poking around online to see different takes on mind-reading in Tolkien’s works, I came across way too many conversations about “real world” mind-reading vs. Tolkien’s mind-reading. They would compare the two and critique Tolkien on how he didn’t get it right. Seriously come on, people. Super seriously. Come on.

About the Photo
Starting automatically is right! Both Melkor and Galadriel automatically started compressing (oppressing?) the minds of their targets. Be super careful.


  • Miles today: 10
  • Miles thus far: 1134 (220 miles since leaving Lothlórien)
  • 169 miles to the Falls of Rauros
  • 639 miles to Mt. Doom

Book II, Chapter 8, Farewell to Lórien. Drifting down the Anduin, February 20, 3019 TA. (map)