Greetings and welcome to October 25, 3018 of the Third Age. Today is a huge day full of heaps of exposition. Today is the Council of Elrond where Tolkien goes off on everything he’s been thinking about since he started writing Lord of the Rings.
Since most of the stuff covered at the Council has already been covered in this blog (it was exposition, to be sure), there doesn’t seem to be much new material for us to go over. But we’ll hit some highlights, I’m sure.
Book Two, Chapter 2: The Council of Elrond
“Next day Frodo woke early…”
The Council of Exposition
Frodo was up and walking with Sam when they came across Bilbo and Gandalf chatting away. Frodo’s big plans for the day (apart from the Council, which seemed neither here nor there to him) were “to go walking today and explore the valley.” He had his eye on some of the pine trees. Gandalf poo-poo’d the idea. And with a bell ring, it was Council time.
The Council of Elrond had seven scheduled speakers: Glóin, Elrond, Boromir, Bilbo, Frodo, Gandalf, and Aragorn.
Again, most of this material has already been covered here. We’re even told that much more was said than was related in the book. It’s also safe to assume that what is written about the Council was probably chronological, but we’re still only getting the pertinent bits.
Glóin spoke first, and we learn about Moria (which he related to Frodo the night before). Balin, Ori and Óin all went to Moria about thirty years ago. Word hasn’t come from them lately, and they are feared to be lost. He also related the story of the messenger from Sauron coming to Dáin.
Glóin and his son, Gimli, had come to warn Bilbo, as well as to get Elrond’s advice.
Elrond spoke next, giving us all the background we could ever want on Sauron and the Rings of Power. Quite a bit of history, most of which he witnessed himself, was delivered. During his talk, Elrond expands the world of The Hobbit into the world of Lord of the Rings, even dipping into the Silmarillion.
Boromir then says a bit, adding to what Elrond was saying about Gondor, Boromir’s home. He focuses mostly on the Battle of Osgiliath and the dream that he had once (but that his brother had a bunch of times).
Aragorn interjected, revealing to all (but especially Boromir) that he was the subject of “the Sword that was broken” part of the dream. Elrond does some more explaining, telling Boromir that Boromir is the Chief of the Dúnedain. With that, Gandalf tells Frodo to bring out the Ring.
He does, Boromir is grumpy about it, and Aragorn seems to challenge Boromir about the whole Sword of Elendil thing, Boromir claims that he doesn’t want a hand out – only advice, but admits that the Sword of Elendil would be pretty handy.
Aragorn then talks a bit (after Bilbo whips out the “All that is gold does not glitter” poem), mostly calling Boromir out. Honestly, Aragorn sounds fairly bitter, seemingly claiming that Gondor wasn’t all that great at keeping out evil things, and that his Rangers had to clean up quite a few messes.
Now it’s Bilbo’s turn, and he basically retold The Hobbit, which some people had apparently not yet read (looking at you, Boromir). And then Frodo told the first few chapters of Lord of the Rings, which was new to everyone but Aragorn.
Galdor of the Havens
One of the members at the Council was Galdor. When Frodo admitted that he wanted to hear more about Gandalf’s travels of late, Galdor cried out “You speak for me also!”
Galdor is an interesting addition. He is one of the (few?) Elves from the Grey Havens. He was there as a representative for Cirdan the Shipwright. While not a whole lot is known about Galdor, Cirdan is a force to be reckoned with. He was one of the Teleri – a clan of Elves who were slaughtered in the Kinslaying. He was one of the oldest Elves in Middle-earth, and will be the last Elf to leave in the Fourth Age (but we’re getting ahead of ourselves). When Gandalf arrived from Valinor, it was Cirdan who gave him his Elvish Ring of Power. So it’s a pretty big deal that he’s there.
What Galdor wanted was proof that Frodo’s Ring was the Ring. He also wondered why Saruman wasn’t there. Of course, Gandalf had a lot to say about both – much of which we’ve already covered.
Word then turns to Gollum. Aragorn quickly relates that he is prison in Mirkwood. Legolas then breaks the news that Gollum had escaped.
Finally Gandalf asked the big Ring-based question: “What shall we do with it?”
What Shall We Do With It?
The most obvious suggestion was to give it to Tom Bombadil. Seems logical – the Ring had no power of him, and he was relatively unknown. Gandalf figured that Tom would just throw the Ring away, and Glorfindal added that it “would only postpone the day of evil.” Galdor agreed.
There was a quick mention of keeping it from Sauron by force, but Elrond quickly knocked that down. This left two options: send it over the Sea or destroy it.
Sending it over the sea, says Elrond, wouldn’t work. The Valar wouldn’t receive it because it belongs to Middle-earth, and Middle-earthlings have to be the ones to deal with it.
Fair enough, but he also reminded everyone that Gandalf said that they couldn’t destroy it by any means available to Elrond.
Glorfindel came up with a third option: “let us cast it into the deeps.” Saruman had made up a story that the Ring was at the bottom of the ocean. It wasn’t, but Glorfindel thought it wasn’t such a bad idea.
Gandalf reasons that it wouldn’t be safe forever, and forever was what they should be concerned about.
Finally Elrond could see only one solution: “To walk into peril – to Mordor. We must send the Ring to the Fire.”
And then Boromir paused, took a breath, and muttered, “one does not simply walk…” Wait no. He didn’t. Nobody said anything because nothing needed to be said.
Let the Ring Be Your Weapon
But what Boromir did was important: “Let the Ring be your weapon, if it has such power as you say. Take it and go forth to victory!”
Elrond shot this down as well (though probably not as convincingly as he had hoped). The Ring was Sauron’s and only Sauron could wield it. Anyone else who does might overthrow Sauron, but he would essentially become Sauron 2.0.
So then if the Ring couldn’t be a weapon, what about the other Rings of Power? Well, the Seven Dwarvish Rings are gone, and the three Elvish Rings weren’t made for war (perhaps a bit of an oversight, looking back).
The Road Must Be Trod
Through all this quibble, they decided that the Ring must indeed be taken to Mordor. But who would take it? Bilbo, of course! “Bilbo the silly hobbit started this affair, and Bilbo had better finish it, or himself.”
All respectfully declined the offer (except Boromir, who disrespectfully declined it to himself).
After a long, long silence, Frodo spoke up.
‘I will take the Ring,’ he said, ‘though I do not know the way.’
Elrond then said something that I think is the very definition of Tolkien’s writings (at least as far as LotR goes:
‘If I understand aright all that I have heard,’ he said, ‘I think that this task is appointed for you, Frodo; and that if you do not find a way, no one will.’
Tolkien then adds Frodo’s name to a short list of kick-ass Silmarillion names that only about three people know of when Fellowship of the Ring was published: “Hador, and Húrin, and Túrin, and Beren himself…”
Also, Sam. Sam was going too. Because Sam is the real hero here. Sam F. Gamgee.
Later That Day…
In a chat later on, Pippin insists upon going as well, but nothing is decided just yet.
Elrond sends out Elves to meet up with Rangers and the Mirkwood Elves. Aragon heads out with Elrond’s sons. All this means that nobody would be leaving on the journey to Mordor for a very long time.
The biggest reason for the delay, accord to Gandalf was that nobody could leave “until we have found out about the Riders.”
Gandalf then tells Frodo that he was going along too.
The Hobbits spent the rest of the day chit chatting about various things, trying to forget the task ahead. It was going to be awhile.
That’s a very good question. We have a paragraph covering the next few weeks, then a sentence about November and most of December. I suspect we’ll meet back up in the middle of December, unless something big happens. You okay with that?