Swishing His Tail and Saying Nothing – A Closer Look at Bill the Pony

For the hobbits, there had been many ponies so far on the journey. Though Frodo, Sam and Pippin had left Hobbiton without a pony, once they met up with Farmer Maggot and Merry, ponies became all part of the fun. All four rode ponies upon leaving Crick Hollow, and there was even another for baggage. After Tom Bombadil’s house and the Barrow-wights, they were joined by Tom himself on a pony (after their own were scared off by the wights).

After Tom turned back and the hobbits got to Bree, their ponies were let loose (probably) by Bill Ferny. Though they eventually found their way back to Crickhollow, the hobbits, and now Strider, were without ponies of any sort. But it was through Bill Ferny that they acquired Bill the Pony.

The as-yet-unnamed Bill the pony was “a poor old half-starved creature,” according to Bob from the Prancing Pony. And Bill Ferny was trying to make a quick buck on it. They thought it was a trick, that Ferny was trying to track them or swindle them by training the pony to return to him once they were out of town, but Strider countered: “I cannot imagine any animal running home to him, once it got away.”

And even though the poor pony was at death’s door, they paid the too-high price of twelve silver pennies (he wasn’t worth more than four) and it came along with them. Immediately, Sam took to him, and maybe after he hit old Bill Ferny in the nose with an apple, the pony took to Sam.

It was this pony, still unnamed, who carried Frodo after his wounding at Weathertop. He was “developing an unexpected talent for picking out a path, and for sparing its rider as many jolts as possible.” In fact, the pony was carrying Frodo for so long that even Tolkien referred to him as “Frodo’s pony” as they neared the Trolls. But we all know that in truth, he was Sam’s own. After they met Glorfindel and Frodo was allowed to ride his horse, Sam’s pony was once employed in carrying the baggage.

The company spent two months in Rivendell, and it was during that time that Sam grew closer to the pony. As they were readying themselves to leave for the journey, Bill was once again burdened with the heavy load of their supplies. They apparently had other choices of animals, but “it was Sam who insisted on choosing him, declaring that Bill (as he called him) would pine, if he did not come.” In all likelihood, it would have been Sam doing the pining, though there’s no real indication that Bill wouldn’t have been upset as well.

‘That animal can nearly talk,’ he said, ‘and would talk, if he stayed here much longer. He gave me a look as plain as Mr. Pippin could speak it: if you don’t let me go with you, Sam, I’ll follow on my own.’ So Bill was going as the beast of burden, yet he was the only member of the Company that did not seem depressed.

After leaving Rivendell, Tolkien gives Bill the pony an actual personality. After Sam jokingly admonished him for not staying back in Rivendell, “Bill swished his tail and said nothing.” And then, in the snow, when they could go almost no farther, Sam spoke up saying that Bill could in fact take a bit more. To that, “the pony looked at him mournfully.” During the snowstorm, “Bill the pony stood patiently but dejectedly in front of the hobbits, and screened them a little.” When they were surrounded by Wargs, Bill “trembled and sweated where he stood.”

Of course, just as they were about to enter Moria, it was decided that Bill the Pony could not go with them. It was first discussed between Gandalf, Frodo and Gimli as a matter of practicality.

‘Poor old Bill!’ said Frodo. ‘I had not thought of that. And poor Sam! I wonder what he will say?’

But it’s Gandalf who seems to feel most for Bill: “Poor Bill has been a useful companion, and it goes to my heart to turn him adrift now. I would have travelled lighter and brought no animal, least of all this one that Sam is fond of, if I had had my way. I feared all along that we should be obliged to take this road.”

Gandalf’s last sentiment, that he wouldn’t have brought an animal at all, makes the most sense. Sam brought Bill not mostly because it would be useful to have a beast of burden, but because of his affection for him. Now that affection might cost poor Bill his life. Just as they needed to release him, the wolves began howling.

Sam, of course, was terrified for Bill and angry at Gandalf, but really, it was his own fault. He probably knew this, which made the frustration even thicker. But Gandalf did hit Sam with the practical “well, if you wouldn’t have brought a pony along…” speech. Instead, he approached the pony.

He laid his hand on the pony’s head, and spoke in a low voice. ‘Go with words of guard and guiding on you,’ he said. ‘You are a wise beast, and have learned much in Rivendell. Make your ways to places where you can find grass, and so come in time to Elrond’s house, or wherever you wish to go.

‘There, Sam! He will have quite as much chance of escaping wolves and getting home as we have.’

Did Gandalf cast some sort of protection spell over Bill? Or was he just reminding him of all he had to live for in Rivendell and very possibly later with Sam?

It was Bill, and not Gandalf, who told Sam that it would all be okay: “Bill, seeming to understand well what was going on, nuzzled up to him, putting his nose to Sam’s ear. Sam burst into tears, and fumbled with the straps, unlading all the pony’s packs and throwing them on the ground.”

 Camera: Polaroid Automatic 250 Film: Fuji FP-100C

Camera: Polaroid Automatic 250
Film: Fuji FP-100C

A Few Notes

  • Naming your pony after his previous owner/abuser is a pretty strange thing. No explanation was given, but let’s just assume that Sam was taking back the name, turning it from evil to good. He was reclaiming “Bill” for the rest of us.
  • Bill’s actual departure wasn’t really as wonderful as it would have been if he just would have left after the ear-nuzzling, but that’s what you get with Tolkien – a bit of heart-warming fantasy mixed with harsh reality.
  • And of course, with that comes a happy ending. Bill returned to Bree and the Prancing Pony. Nob had been watching him and Sam counted himself “born lucky, whatever my gaffer may say.”
  • Oh! And we shouldn’t forget that Tolkien allowed Bill the Pony to get back at Bill the Ferny: “As he [Ferny] passed the ponies one of them let fly with his heels and just caught him as he ran. He went off with a yelp into the night and was never heard of again.”
  • Bill the pony eventually traveled with Sam and Frodo to the Grey Havens, and went on to live with Sam and Rosie until he died a very happy passing in the Shire (we can assume).

About the Photo
So Bill is a pony and not a camel, but you get the idea. Cambells was a mid-west freight company during the 50s and into the 90s, I think. Their motto was the hilarious “Humpin’ to Please.” This, along with Chicagos “Speed Humps” makes any adult into a middle schooler.

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)

Did Sauron Willingly Foresake His Body?

Though Tolkien seemed to have a fairly good idea what happened to Sauron after Isildur cut off the Ring, he told it in several differing ways across the years, and usually in conjunction with the Isildur story (seriously, I don’t think I’m ever going to get out of the Isildur story).

Gandalf explains to Frodo in “The Shadow of the Past” chapter of Lord of the Rings: “Then Sauron was vanquished and his spirit fled and was hidden for long years, until his shadow took shape again in Mirkwood.” All Elrond says in the “Council of Elrond” was the “Sauron was diminished, but not destroyed.”

In the Silmarillion, it’s written: “Then Sauron was for that time vanquished, and he forsook his body, and his spirit fled far away and hid in waste places; and he took no visible shape again for many long years.”

The differences seem trifling, but in the latter account (written several years after he wrote the Lord of the Rings, it almost seems as if Sauron willingly left his body – “he forsook his body” – he renounced it, abandoned it. The earlier accounts don’t mention anything of his will, so it’s not a contradiction, really. But you certainly wouldn’t assume that Sauron willingly gave up his body from the Lord of the Rings accounts.

So where did all this start? If we look back on the early drafts of the Lord of the Rings, we’ll see that Sauron (still the Necromancer) hadn’t been nearly-slain by Isildur until a few drafts in. Through the whole “First Phase” of the writing, which took about seven or eight months, nothing is mentioned of it.

Then, a few months later, he wrote a chapter that would eventually be divvied out between the “Shadow of the Past” and “Council of Elrond” chapters.

“But he forsook his bodily shape and fled like a ghost to waste places until he rested in Mirkwood and took shape again in the darkness.”

This sounds like a mashing of Gandalf’s account and that from the Silmarillion (which seemed to be a retelling of Elrond’s account).

Interestingly, Elrond didn’t mention the Isildur/Sauron story during the Council of Elrond through the first three “phases” of writing. It wasn’t until the fourth draft of the Council of Elrond (written probably around August of 1940 – a year and a half after he started) that Elrond brought up the Isildur story. But in that, he only said: Then Elrond spoke of the winning of the Ring, and the flight of Sauron, and the peace that came to the West of Middle-earth for a time.” In the fifth and “final” (for a long time) draft, nothing was more was added.

And that leads us to the published version of both Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion. While Tolkien’s later writings explore Isildur, they don’t really mess with Sauron’s abandonment of his body.

But in a 1957 letter (No. 200), written three years after Fellowship of the Rings was published, Tolkien had explained that Sauron was “always de-bodied when vanquished.” He was, originally, spirit, but like any Maiar, he had the ability to take a body.

“They were thus in the world, but not of a kind whose essential nature is to be physically incarnate. They were self-incarnated, if they wished; but their incarnate forms were more analogous to our clothes than to our bodies, except that they were more than are clothes the expression of their desires, moods, wills and functions.”

He goes on to explain that the Maiar had a “pre-occupation” with Elves and Men, which is why many of them took a human-like form.

“It was thus that Sauron appeared in this shape. It is mythologically supposed that when this shape was ‘real’, that is a physical actuality in the physical world and not a vision transferred from mind to mind, it took some time to build up. It was then destructible like other physical organisms. But that of course did not destroy the spirit, nor dismiss it from the world to which it was bound until the end.”

This goes not just for Sauron, but any Maiar who took physical form, including Ganalf, Sarumon, etc. Their physical bodies were created by themselves (or given by the Valar), but could be destroyed – just as Gandalf’s was when he battled the Balrog.

Tolkien continues, explaining a bit more about Sauron specific case:

After the battle with Gilgalad and Elendil, Sauron took a long while to re-build, longer than he had done after the Downfall of Numenor (I suppose because the building-up used up some of the inherent energy of the spirit, which might be called ‘will’ or the effective link between the indestructible mind and being and the realization of its imagination).”

This doesn’t really answer the question whether Sauron willingly gave up his body or if it was completely destroyed. Either way, the battle clearly rendered his body useless or broken. If Sauron willingly left it, he did so because the only other option would have been to wait until he was forced to leave it.

A Few Notes
Every time I give a date for when Tolkien wrote something, I have to look it upon the the JRR Tolkien Companion and Guide by Scull & Hammond. I have no idea why I don’t just make my own timeline and refer back to that.

When I started writing this, I was really hoping that there would be more diversity in Tolkien’s writings about this. But sometimes subtle differences are more fun.

Camera: Polaroid Automatic 100  Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

Camera: Polaroid Automatic 100
Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

About the Photo
I guess when I think of someone leaving their body, I think of abandoned buildings. When a building is abandoned, it quickly falls apart. Just like when there’s no life left in the body, it quickly decomposes. This is, of course, along Route 66. In Arizona, I think.

  • Day 132
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 651 (197 from Rivendell)
  • 143 miles to the Doors of Moria
  • 270 miles to Lothlórien
  • 1,128 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place in the narrative: Book II, Chapter 3. Marching south along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. Seventh night out from Rivendell. January 5 – 6, 3019 TA. (map)

A Hero Remade – Isildur in Tolkien’s Later Life (Part 1)

Over the past week, we’ve taken a look at the accounts of Isildur – his life, his death and the different ways in which Tolkien retold the story. Today we’ll look at “The Disaster of the Gladden Fields,” an essay/short story written sometime during or after 1969, at least fifteen years after Lord of the Rings was published. It appears in Unfinished Tales.

This work picks up the story after the fall of Sauron and contrasts the accounts appearing in both the Lord of the Rings and the Silmarillion. In some cases, it paints an entirely different picture of Isildur.

While in the Lord of the Rings we are told very little about the early life of Isildur, the Silmarillion fills in some of the blanks. There, we learn that he is your basic hero – honorable, rash, daring, rebellious, and willing to sacrifice everything for Good. But then his death via possession by the Ring, as portrayed in the same book, reduces Isildur to little more than a prideful, cowardly man willing to let his people die so he can escape.

In “The Disaster of the Gladden Fields,” Tolkien remakes Isildur completely. Prior accounts, in which the hero might have been painted in a less-than-kingly light, are altered just enough so that a different point of view can be reached. There are, of course, various other details added seemingly at whim, but then, that’s how Tolkien wrote (and rewrote).

In the Silmarillion, we’re told that Isildur returned to Gondor after the battle, put his nephew in charge, took the Ring and then left for Rivendell. In the Unfinished Tales version, he is in Gondor for a year “restoring its order and defining its bounds.” It was only after “he felt free” that he left for Rivendell, where his wife and youngest son were waiting for him. We’re also told that he needed to talk to Elrond. None of this was mentioned in the Silmarillion. There, he wanted only to “to take up his father’s realm in Eriador, far from the shadow of the Black Land.”

As far as the Ring went, in the earlier versions, it was to be an heirloom of his house, but in this late writing, it is not mentioned during this segment. In fact, the Ring was not yet mentioned thus far in the story, and wouldn’t be for quite a few paragraphs (the whole thing is only five pages long).

This in itself is telling. In previous versions, the Ring was the reason that Isildur did anything. Now, however, it’s hardly brought up.

Isildur set off from Gondor with his three eldest sons and 200 knights and soldiers, expecting to reach Rivendell in forty days. Tolkien explains the journey and his path. On the thirtieth day, they passed just north of the Gladden Fields, and were marching toward Thranduil’s realm in Greenwood (later called Mirkwood).

The troops were singing as they marched, and the day was ending. “Suddenly as the sun plunged into cloud they heard the hideous cries of Orcs, and saw them issuing from the Forest and moving down the slopes, yelling their war-cries.” Since it was getting dark, nobody could see how many Orcs there were, but it was estimated that as many as 2,000 were before them. Isildur ordered his men into a defensive position.

Remember, in the Silmarillion the Orcs were merely lying in wait, expecting Isildur’s party, which was caught completely unawares. But in this version, Isildur’s forces had time to prepare. After forming their defenses, they waited. Isildur had enough time to have a full conversation with his son, Elendur.

Isildur saw “vengeance” in the Orcs. “There is cunning and design here! We have no hope of help: Moria and Lorien are now far behind and Thranduil four days’ march ahead.” In response, Elendur reminded him that “we bear burdens of worth beyond all reckoning.” This was the first mention of the Ring.

As the Orcs drew closer, Isildur turned to his esquire Ohtar, who was mentioned in both previous books. He is the one who brought the shards of Elendil’s sword to Rivendell. But before we were not given the chance to hear the conversation of how this went down.

After handing Ohtar the shards, he ordered him to “save it from capture by all means that you can find, and at all costs; even at the cost of being held a coward who deserted me.” This just makes sense, but it’s also a bit suspicious. Isildur is telling Ohtar that running away to save something precious is honorable. Might he be thinking that he’ll have to do the same thing?

If so, this might remind you of Frodo’s Ring-inspired plan in the Barrow. There, he thought that everyone would understand that he had to leave his friends behind to die. What choice did he have? Was Isildur faced with the same choice? Tolkien seems to now tell us as much.

The Orcs halted their advance to dress their lines. Then after a volley of arrows, they charged. The arrows were useless against Numenorean armor. The tall Men easily threw back the assault, and the Orcs seemed to retreat back into the forest. Isildur ordered the march to resume, figuring that the Orcs had had enough. But this wasn’t being heedless, as in the Silmarillion. We are told that this was how the Orcs usually operated, and Isildur apparently had no reason to think they would behave any differently.

But he was wrong. These were Orcs made of different stuff. And it wasn’t just vengeance and hatred that spurred them on. “…and though it was unknown to them the Ring, cut from his black hand two years before, was still laden with Sauron’s evil will and called to all his servants for their aid.” The Orcs were unknowingly drawn to the Ring.

The Orcs attacked again, this time with all of their forces. They did so quietly and quickly surrounded Isildur’s party, though they were out of range of the archers. It was dark now.

While waiting for the Orcs to attack a second time. Elendur, Isildur’s son, spoke to his father again about the Ring. “What of the power that would cow these foul creatures and command them to obey you? Is it then of no avail?”

Isildur’s reply changed everything we know about Isildur’s character. It might as well have been a completely different person. But since I’ve gone on for some time now, we’ll hit that up tomorrow.

A Few Notes
What? A cliffhanger? Dig me!

Fun “fact” – Ohtar’s name was not Ohtar. In an author’s note, Tolkien wrote: “it is probably only the title of address that Isildur used at this tragic moment, hiding his feelings under formality. Ohtah ‘warrior, soldier’ was the title of all who, though fully trained adn experienced, had not yet been admitted to the rank of roquen, ‘night’. But Ohtar was dear to Isildur and of his own kin.”

Ohtar escaped with one other. In the original tellings, only three people escaped the ordeal. Who will be the third? Find out tomorrow!

Camera: Polaroid Automatic 250 Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

Camera: Polaroid Automatic 250
Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

About the Photo
Careful! There’s Orcs in them thar forests! Nahh, this is an old concrete section of Route 66 in Illinois.

  • Day 127
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 636 (182 from Rivendell)
  • 285 miles to Lothlórien
  • 1,143 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place in the narrative: Book II, Chapter 3. Marching south along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. Seventh night out from Rivendell. January 4 – 5, 3019 TA. (map)

Catching Up with Gloin the Dwarf

Frodo had come out of his mini-coma after being rescued and taken to Rivendell and was hungry. He was led downstairs after a chat with Gandalf and was seated at a large table. At its head was Elrond, who was flanked by Gandalf and Glorfindel. In the middle of the table was Arwen, Elrond’s daughter, and next to Frodo was a dwarf named Gloin.

“Am I right in guessing that you are the Gloin, one of the twelve companions of the great Thorin Oakenshield?”

Of course, he was, and both had questions for each other. Gloin wondered what was so important that four hobbits would come out of the Shire on such a mysterious journey. Frodo wondered why such an important dwarf as Gloin would come to Rivendell, “so far from the Lonely Mountain.”

Neither thought it proper to give any answers. However, Gloin was more than willing to recount the long tale of what he had been up to since the Battle of Five Armies, as told in The Hobbit. Frodo, well versed in Bilbo’s story of the battle, was interested in everything Gloin had to say, but was bewildered by all of the names.

This sounds strikingly like many feel about reading Tolkien, especially the Silmarillion.

Many of the dwarves in The Hobbit aren’t fully developed as far as their characters are concerned. Gloin was one of the most, however. In the story, he was the dwarf to note that Bilbo was “more like a grocer than a burglar.” He, perhaps apart from Thorin, was the least optimistic about Bilbo.

Tolkien uses this passage to catch the reader up with what’s been going on in the non-Shire parts of The Hobbit since the Lonely Mountain was retaken. Following Beorn’s death, his son, Grimbeorn the Old was the leader of the Beornings. It was this family that kept the High Pass open and free of Orcs. This allowed free travel to and from Rivendell and Dale. Speaking of Dale, Bard the Bowman had died, but his grandson, Brand, was now the king.

As far as the dwarves were concerned, Dain was still King under the Mountain, and only seven of the original twelve members of Thorin’s company were alive. “Bombur was now so far that he could not move himself from his couch to his chair at table, and it took six young dwarves to lift him.”

That seven were still alive was a bit of dwarf-realism. The truth was that the ten who survived the Battle of Five Armies would, by most peoples, be considered alive – or at least not dead. There were three, Balin, Ori and Oin (Gloin’s brother), who were missing. This was the real reason why Gloin was in Rivendell, and he didn’t want to say anything more.

For both Frodo, who did not wish to talk about The Ring, and Gloin, who did not wish to talk about the probable death of his three dearest friends, these were dark times. Even in Rivendell they felt that perhaps some things were best left unmentioned – at least for the present. The dinner was to be a happy time (though we’re not told what Gandalf was talking about, and it was probably gloomy).

And so Gloin filled the rest of the conversation with explanations of the halls inside the Lonely Mountain and the lands around Dale. There were many changes to the Desolation of Smaug, and all for the better!

A Few Notes

  • I think it’s awesome that Sam, Merry and Pippin were put at the kids’ table. I remember quite a few Thanksgivings like that.
  • If your copy of Fellowship of the Ring reads: “You should see the waterways of Dale, Frodo, and the mountains and the pools!” it’s an error. In the original published edition, it read: “and the fountains and the pools!” But it was mistakenly changed in 1954 (almost immediately after it was published). The 50th Anniversary edition corrected this.
  • And that’s that – a pretty simple post today. Nothing too striking.
Camera: Polaroid Automatic 100  Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

Camera: Polaroid Automatic 100
Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

About the Photo
Well, maybe Dale and the Lonely Mountain weren’t doing as well as Gloin insisted. It’s all a matter of perspective, I suppose!

This photo was taken on Route 66 on the Continental Divide. Strange place.

  • Day 109
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 545 (92 from Rivendell)
  • 375 miles to Lothlórien
  • 1,233 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Book II, Chapter 3. Walking south along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. Sixth night out from Rivendell. December 30 – Yule 1, 3018TA. (map)

A Tale of Two (and Sort of Three) Elronds

For some, the differences between Elrond of The Hobbit and Elrond of Lord of the Rings are jarring. They really do seem like two different people. Of course, in The Hobbit, we don’t get to know him very well, and it’s clear that the Elrond of Lord of the Rings is based upon him, but are they really the same person? Well, yes and no.

In a way, Elrond was not invented for The Hobbit. But then, in a way he was. In a 1964 letter (#257), Tolkien was explaining the lengths he had to go to in order to link together The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings. One thing that was comparatively easy was Elrond. In The Hobbit, Tolkien mentioned that Elrond was half-elven. This was, he wrote in the letters, “a fortunate acident, due to the difficulty of constantly inventing good names for new characters.”

When he had to come up with the name of the character who lived in Rivendell, he plucked the name “Elrond” from his previous writings and made him half-elven. He did not link him to any larger mythology, and by all accounts the character Elrond from The Hobbit and the character Elrond from his earlier Silmarillion writings were two different characters. However, the Elrond from Lord of the Rings was both.

So at the time when Tolkien wrote The Hobbit, who was Elrond?

From the very first appearance of Elrond’s name in the early Silmarillion writings, he was the Half-elven son of Earendel. Actually, in the very first, he was part elven, part man and part Valar, but Tolkien quickly abandoned that idea. Anyway, he was a fairly minor character who, in this early instance, had no brother (and wouldn’t until after The Hobbit was drafted. He had elected to remain on Earth when the other Elves returned to the West. And thus he was “bound by him mortal half.”

These early Silmarillion writings were hardly stories, and were called only “The Sketch of the Mythology,” written in 1926 (The Hobbit was started in earnest in 1930). With a few minor details here and there, the basic outline in the Silmarillion-era tales runs true.

And so by the time The Hobbit was first drafted, Elrond’s back story was much like we know it today. But what in The Hobbit shown through from The Silmarillion? Not much, really.

In this early draft, Tolkien first introduces Elrond without saying his name (at first): “The master of the house was an elf-friend – one of those people whose fathers came into the strange stories of the beginning of history and the wars of the Elves and goblins, and the brave men of the North.”

Of course, he was alluding to the early Silmarillion tales, but that’s sort of what he did. He couldn’t help himself. The name itself is sort of thrown in out of the blue. “Elrond knew all about all runes of every kind.” was the opener.

If what Tolkien remembered in 1964 about just plucking a name out of the mythology was true, then here is where it happened. But it did not really happen by accident and not in a void. The Last Homely House, for example, seems to have been based largely off of the Cottage of Lost Play from the Book of Lost Tales writings.

And so it hardly seems possible to take Tolkien at his own word. The name “Elrond” might have been, as he says, “a fortunate accident, due to the difficulty of constantly inventing good names for new characters,” but in all of the notes and writings of The Hobbit nothing is really mentioned or hinted at about a larger story for Elrond.

It’s not until the early drafts of Lord of the Rings when Tolkien has Elrond relate his Silmarillion history as the son of Earendel. So it’s at least possible that the Elrond we meet in The Lord of the Rings is actually a combination of both the Elrond from the early Silmarillion writings and the Elrond form The Hobbit.

This would go a long way to explaining just why the two published versions of Elrond seem so strikingly different – because they were actually different people.

A Few Notes

  • The first description of Elrond was also the origin of his house – the “whether you liked food or sleep or work or storytelling” etc. bits.
  • I could, of course, be wrong. And more than likely, it’s a strange combination of both.
Camera: Polaroid Automatic 100 Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

Camera: Polaroid Automatic 100
Film: Fuji FP-100C (reclaimed negative)

About the Photo
Now, obviously Rivendell is a very sprawling and lofty place. But in The Hobbit, Tolkien really made it seem like just some inn or motel – nothing really all that special.

  • Day 107
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 535 (82 from Rivendell)
  • 385 miles to Lothlórien
  • 1,243 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Book II, Chapter 3. Encamping along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains in a thicket of thornbushes. Fifth night out from Rivendell. December 29-30, 3018TA. (map)

‘Gandalf. Some Explanations.’ – Tolkien’s Early Rivendell Drafts

When Tolkien first jotted down his notes for what would eventually become the three Rivendell chapters, he had only the vaguest of ideas what they would be about.

“Gandalf. Some explanations.” was really all it said, apart from a few items that probably made sense only to him. As far as the Council of Elrond was concerned, all that existed then was “Consultation of hobbits with Elrond and Gandalf,” which is true in only the most basic sense. But then, the rest of the book was described as: “The Quest of the Fiery Mountain.”

When he got around to actually writing the first draft of the chapter that would become “Many Meetings,” he allowed his ideas to flow more freely, and much of the text remained true through the published version. As in that version, Bingo (proto-Frodo) awoke, he noticed the ceiling and heard a waterfall. He asked where he was and it was Gandalf who answered, calling the many things the hobbit had done “absurd.” As in the final version, Bingo “felt too peaceful and comfortable to argue.”

There are some noticeable differences with Gandalf’s retelling of the fight at the Ford, however. In the jotted down notes, it was Gandalf who caused the flood “with Elrond’s permission.” And in the first draft, it was Gandalf entirely (in the published version, it’s Elrond with a bit of a stylistic assist from Gandalf).

As far as Glorfindel was concerned, word did not come into Rivendell alerting Elrond of Frodo’s distress. It was Gandalf who send Glorfindel, “-or rather, I asked Elrond to lend him to me. He is a wise and noble elf. Bilbo is – was – very fond of him. I also sent Rimbedir (as they call him here) – that Trotter fellow.” Trotter, of course, became Strider, but at this point, he was still a hobbit who wore wooden shoes.

One notion that was cut from the final draft was Bingo’s suspicion of Trotter. “I keep on feeling that I have seen him somewhere before.” Gandalf tried to play it off by saying that all hobbits look “extraordinarily alike.” Bingo obviously didn’t buy that, but let the matter rest for the time.

Most of the remaining passage was retained to the final draft, and so it’s more interesting to look at what was added later than what was there from the start. The published version is nearly five times as long, so there’s quite a bit added.

Missing from the first draft (in order of how they appear in the published version) was a much more detailed accounting of the story thus far. Bingo did not ask for Sam, since Sam, as a character did not yet exist. Gandalf makes no mention of Bingo talking in his sleep, telling about his time in the Barrow.

No mention is made by Gandalf that he was delayed or that he was captive. There’s no lengthy description of the Ringwraiths coming onto the scene. The idea that the a sliver of the Morgul-blade broke off in Bingo’s shoulder was not yet thought of, the Black Riders only “grazed” his shoulder.

Tolkien had not yet connected Trotter to Aragorn and thence to the Numenoreans – nothing of the sort was mentioned at all. There wasn’t even anything about the Rangers. Bingo did not ask if Rivendell was safe.

Gandalf did not go into any great detail about the fight at the Ford. Though he gave a basic outline, it was merely a mention compared to the published version. After the talk about the Black Riders’ horses and how “Not all his servants and chattels are wraiths,” Bingo goes back to sleep.

After finishing the Rivendell draft (which ended during what would later become the council of Elrond), Tolkien rethought a few things, taking notes along the way. This would be as far as he was going before starting the story all over from the beginning.

It was here that he decided that Bilbo from The Hobbit had to be in Rivendell, and Bingo had to see him. It was also here that he toyed with the idea of renaming Bingo to Frodo, but decided against it. These notes also saw the first usage of “Sam Gamgee,” though it was just in a margin and all alone but for another scrible which said “Bingo originally intended to go alone … with Sam”.

The second draft of the Rivendell chapters mirrored the first, though a few things were added and Tolkien finally decided to rename Bingo to Frodo. Here, we see the introduction of Gandalf’s “I was delayed” reasoning. Gandalf actually goes into more detail about why he was delayed than he does in the published version, but I’ll save this incredibly fun story for when I cover this (hopefully next weekish). That information was drastically different and incredibly fun.

Gandalf tells Frodo about the coming Council, which was now something real – it wasn’t merely a discussion between Elrond and the Hobbits as before.

He also mentioned the Ring, going into more detail about it than in the first draft . When explaining what would have happened to him if the Ringwraiths would have captured him: “You would have become a wraith, and under the dominion of the Dark Lord, but you would have had no ring of your own, as the Nine have; for your Ring is the Ruling Ring, and the Necromancer would have taken that, and would have tormented you for trying to keep it – if any torment great than being robbed of it was possible.”

In this second draft (as in the published version), Frodo asks whether or not Rivendell was safe. Gandalf’s reply was a bit different: “Yes, I hope so. He has less power over Elves than over any other creature: they have suffered too much in the past to be deceived or cowed by him now. And the Elves of Rivendell are descendants of his chief foes: the Gnomes, the Elvenwise, that came out of the West; and the Queen Elbereth Gilthoniel, Lady of the Stars, still protects them.” Tolkien had not yet come up with the name “Noldar,” and used “Gnomes” since his earliest Lost Tales writings.

There was also a sort of mystery hobbit named Odo who was (in this version of things) traveling with Gandalf. Somehow Odo was captured when Gandalf was attacked on Weathertop and somehow he was rescued or reappeared. Gandalf, in this draft, dodges the question and makes it seem like there’s quite a story to tell, but Tolkien abandoned this idea before he could tell it.

And while many things were obviously retained from the second draft to the published version, it was in the third (and final) draft that Aragorn appeared. Gandalf says:

“There are few left in Middle-earth like Aragorn son of Kelegorn. The race of the Kings from over the Sea is nearly at an end.”

Frodo asks: “Do you really mean that Trotter is of the race of Numenor?” Again, Frodo thought that he was only a Ranger.

Gandalf replies: “Only a Ranger! Many of the Rangers are of the same race, and the followers of Aragorn: all that he has left of the realm of his fathers.”

And so while Aragorn was still named Trotter, he was no longer a hobbit, but a leader of some kind of what was left of the race of Numenoreans.

A Few Notes

  • From the earliest draft, Tolkien decided that it would be nice to quote from The Hobbit when describing that Bingo/Frodo was safe in Rivendell.
  • Look, Jeff! I talked about Numenor! I didn’t even mean to!
Camera: Polaroid Big Swinger 3000 | Film: Fuji FP-3000B

Camera: Polaroid Big Swinger 3000 | Film: Fuji FP-3000B

About the Photo
Rivendell has a waterfall, and this is Seattle’s. It’s Snoqualmie Falls, the same waterfall that was shown in the opening credits of Twin Peaks.

  • Day 101
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 500
  • 420 miles to Lothlórien
  • 1,278 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Book II, Chapter 3. Still marching along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains, south of Rivendell. (map)

But Why was Rivendell Safe?

While the Fellowship makes its way south along the Misty Mountains in a montage of walking scenes, let’s take a look back at Rivendell and Frodo’s question ‘Is Rivendell safe?’

Gandalf had been there when Frodo woke from his mini-coma and answered a slew of questions about Ringwraits and Strider. When talking about the strength of the enemy, Gandalf explained that their numbers were growing. When Frodo asked if Rivendell and the Elves were safe, Gandalf had this to say:

“Yes, at present, until all else is conquered. The Elves may fear the Dark Lord, and they may fly before him, but never again will they listen to or serve him.”

Later, during the Council of Elrond, we’re given a tiny bit more information about this: “and many eyes were turned to Elrond in fear and wonder as he told of the Elven-smiths of Eregion and their friendship with Moria, and their eagerness for knowledge, by which Sauron ensnared them.”

We’ll get to all of that a bit later (after all, it’s still twenty pages away!). But it’s hints like this one by Gandalf that give the story a much deeper background. And like many of these mentions, we’re only given a small morsel of what was actually written. In many cases, Tolkien had extensive background notes that he kept for himself while writing. Additionally, many of the Silmarillion or Unfinished Tales stories that appear to be fleshed out from mentions in the Lord of the Rings, were written years after he wrote about Frodo and the Ring.

Anyway, Gandalf goes on to explain that the Elves are not afraid of the Ringwraiths. But that’s only part of the reason why Rivendell was safe from them. It’s actually much more simple.

Take the Prancing Pony at Bree, for instance. Merry asked Strider if he thought the Black Riders would attack the inn. Strider didn’t believe they would, and not only because they were not yet assembled.

“And in any case that is not their way. In dark and loneliness they are strongest; they will not openly attack a house where there are lights and many people – not until they are desperate…. But their power is in terror, and already some in Bree are in their clutch.”

The Prancing Pony was a place of merriment and fellowship. It wasn’t (as it was portrayed in the Peter Jackson movie) the cantina from Star Wars. “The door was open and light streamed out of it.” The hobbits found that “someone began singing a merry song inside, and many cheerful voices joined loudly in the chorus.” When the song ended, there was “a burst of laughter and clapping.”

They were greeted at the door by a gloriously cheery Barliman Butterbur. When he heard about the Black Riders, he was admittedly afraid, but after a quick (and realistic) pep talk from Strider, he said: “But spooks or no spooks, they won’t get in The Pony so easy. Don’t you worry till the morning.” And he was right. His fearlessness, combined with the atmosphere and community that he fostered in his inn was the light that kept the darkness at bay. The two Black Riders finally gathered the strength to attack the inn, stealthily sneaking into the hobbits’ room, but found them gone. But that’s hardly an attack.

It was for much the same reason that Rivendell was safe, though obviously it was The Prancing Pony multiplied almost indefinitely. And Rivendell would hold out “until all else is conquered.” Frodo was in Rivendell, and, as Gandalf comforted him, he “need not worry about anything for the present.”

“Frodo was now safe in the Last Homely House east of the Sea. That house was, as Bilbo had long ago reported, ‘a perfect house, whether you like food or sleep or story-telling or singing, or just sitting and thinking best, or a pleasant mixture of them all.’ Merely to be there was a cure for weariness, fear, and sadness.”

A Few Notes

  • Gandalf explained that the Black Riders’ horses were “born and bred in the service of the Dark Lord in Mordor,” but I’ve also heard that the Enemy stole the horses from Gondor. Anyone have any information on this?
  • Fun thing to remember: Through these Rivendell chapters, there’s no mention of Galadriel or Lothlorien. This was actually because Tolkien had not yet invented them. When he did, he apparently never felt he urge to go back an insert them into earlier parts of the narrative.
Camera: Polaroid EE100S || Film: Fuji FP-100C

Camera: Polaroid EE100S || Film: Fuji FP-100C

About the Photo
“and the evening was filled with the faint scent of trees and flowers, as if summer still lingered in Elrond’s gardens.”

  • Day 99
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 490
  • 430 miles to Lothlórien
  • 1,288 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Book II, Chapter 1. Marching south along the western foothills of the Misty Mountains. (map)

The Ancient Origins of Tolkien’s Trolls

As our heroes make their way to the East Road after stumbling upon the Stone-trolls, let’s take a look at the first time Tolkien used trolls in his stories.

Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 12 (p208, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
The scene from The Hobbit might have been the first time Tolkien ever used trolls in print, but it wasn’t his first foray into this strange species.

This takes us back to the Book of Lost Tales, the earliest writings that would eventually evolve into the Silmarillion. He began writing these tales in 1916, though several poems and ideas came from a few years before. Trolls play absolutely no part at all in the work, and it’s only in a series of, as Christopher Tolkien referred to them, “scribbled plot-outlines, endlessly varying, written on separate slips of paper or in pages of the little notebook ‘C’.”

Trolls play almost not part in this, as well. The story swings all over the place, but mainly concerns itself with Tol Eressea, where the Elves live. They appear in an outline describing, well… let’s just let it speak for itself:

The Battle of Ros: the Island-elves and the Lost Evles against Nautar, Gongs, Orcs, and a few evil Men. Defeat of the Elves. The fading Elves retire to Tol Eressea and hide in the woods.

Men come to Tol Eressea and also Orcs, Dwarves, Gongs, Trolls, etc. After the Battle of Ros the Elves faded with sorrow. They cannot live in the air breathed by a number of Men equal to their own or greater; and ever as Men wax more powerful and numerous so the fairies fade and grow small and tenuous, filmy and transparent, but Men larger and more dense and gross. At last Men, or almost all, can no longer see the fairies.

Okay, so there’s clearly a whole hell of a lot going on here. But quickly, Tolkien disliked the idea of elves/fairies being those small Tinkerbell sort of things, and wanted to explain how they came to be that way. This was the earliest fading of the elves.

Anyway, getting back to trolls… Yeah, this is really all he says about them. They’re mentioned in passing, and from all I can tell, not mentioned again by him until he wrote the Troll chapter in The Hobbit. But our search can’t really end there! Oh no.

During much of the Book of Lost Tales writing, Tolkien was seriously trying to tie in his work to specific places in England and Europe. Tol Eressea, where the Elves lived, was England. Even certain personalities matched up with historical figures.

Historically speaking, Rome invaded the island in 55BC, ruling until 380ishAD. Then, in 449AD, the Angles, Saxons, and Jutes invaded. They were led by Germanic brothers Hengest and Horsa. In Tolkien’s early mythology, Hengest and Horsa’s father was Eriol the Mariner. The Battle of Ros was their invasion, and the Trolls (along with the Orcs, Gongs, etc.) came right after.

Tolkien wrote these notes in 1925ish, but that wasn’t the only mention of Trolls. Sometime around then, he wrote a poem called “Pero & Podex,” which wasn’t published until 1936. It would later go on to be included in the Lord of the Rings, though after a few rewrites: “A troll sat alone on his seat of stone….”

And speaking of stone, while Tolkien’s account of Trolls turning to stone seems unique, he wasn’t the first to use it. In the 1200s, it appeared in the Icelandic Poetic Edda, about Germanic and Norse legends. Tolkien would definitely have been familiar with them. And though they weren’t specifically trolls in the old Icelandic stories, it seems as if trolls, dwarves, giants, etc could be swapped almost at random from tale to tale. Many tales used dwarves. Tolkien decided upon trolls.

In Grettis saga, another Icelandic epic from a century later, a She-troll was turned to stone when the sun rose – “and she still stand there on the cliff, turned into stone.”

It was also around this time, in the Summer(ish) of 1926, when Tolkien jotted upon a piece of paper: “In a hole in the ground there lived a Hobbit.” It would be another four years until he would set to writing the story in earnest, and then he would return to the Trolls.

When writing the Lord of the Rings, from almost the start, Tolkien had the idea that the hobbits would see the place where Bilbo met the Trolls. In an outline written during the Barrow-wight scene, Tolkien attempted to pace out the rest of the story (with Gandalf being the only one with fire enough to destroy the ring). “Pass rapidly over rest of journey to Rivendell. Any riders on the Road? Make them foolishly turn aside to visit Troll Stones. This delays them.”

The story would expand, taking on new geography and depth, but the Trolls would remain until the end.

A Few Notes

  • This post is not simply to take up space until we get to your boyfriend, Glorfindel.
  • Gongs are “evil beings obscurely related to Orcs. It’s not really known was Nautar were (was?). They had been related to the Dwarves in an earlier manuscript, but in this one, who the hell knows.
  • Part of the reworking of the Eriol story had Eriol renamed Ælfwine, or “Elf-friend.”
  • All glories to John Rateliff, author of The History of the Hobbit. It’s ridiculously wonderful. The J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide by Scull & Hammond was also wildly useful (though my used copy sort of smells like barf and/or microwave popcorn).
Camera: Polaroid EE100BSL | Film: Fuji FP-100C

Camera: Polaroid EE100BSL | Film: Fuji FP-100C

About the Photo
Just like yesterday, this is the Fremont Troll in Seattle. You can see that even though he’s under a bridge, sunlight can still get him. I assume this is how he turned to stone.

  • Day 81
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 401
  • 58 miles to Rivendell
  • 1,378 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Book I, Chapter 12. Back on the East Road, just past the old stone trolls. (map)

Troll Sat Alone on His Seat of Stone

Well here’s a familiar sight! Frodo and the boys stumble onto the anachronistically named Trolls: Tom, Bert and William.

Thoughts on the Passage – Book I, Chapter 12 (p205-8, 50th Anniv. Ed.)
For some reason or another (I think I know why, but more on that soon), in this passage Strider doesn’t really seem like himself. He’s a bit too bubbly. That’s weird, right? He just seems out of character.

When Pippin comes running back telling everyone that he’s seen trolls down “in a clearing of the woods,” they proto-fellowship, led by Strider, who picked up a stick, went to check them out.

“Strider walked forward unconcernedly. ‘Get up, old stone!’ he said, and broke his stick upon the stooping troll.”

When the hobbits come to their senses and realize that they’re standing among the trolls turned to stone in The Hobbit, they all have a good laugh at themselves (except Pippin, who’s still a bit shaken). Strider replies:

“It is broad daylight and with a bright sun, and yet you come back trying to scare me with a tale of live trolls waiting for us in the glade! In any case you might have noticed that one of them has an old bird’s nest behind his ear. That would be a most unusual ornament for a live troll!”

To me, this sounds quite a bit like hobbit-speak. And it’s no wonder, really. This goes back to our old friend Trotter, the wooden-shoed hobbit, who played the roll of Strider in the early drafts of the story, before Strider became Aragorn.

The original draft is nearly identical to the final, published version, except for the lines spoken by Trotter/Strider.

“Trotter walked forward unconcernedly. ‘Hullo, William!’ he said, and slapped the stooping troll soundly.’ And he said: ‘In any case you might have noticed that Bert has got a bird’s nest behind his ear.'”

It’s slightly different – Trotter knows the story well and uses the Trolls’ names. It seems like he’s been here before. But there’s enough of the hobbit-speak left in the final draft to throw Strider’s character off a bit.

This version, written in 1938ish remained unchanged until 1942 when the Trolls’ names were dropped and Sam was finally given his song.

They had not had a song since Weathertop, which was twelve days past. And so Sam began to sing off the top of his head. Seriously. Sam is awesome. You can listen to Rob Inglis singing it here. His version is based upon Tolkien’s own (which had slightly different lyrics). You can hear that here.

Anyway, the song was originally to be sung by Frodo at the Prancing Pony, but when Tolkien discovered that the proto-fellowship had come to the same trollish haunts as Bilbo, he couldn’t do anything but use it here!

Following the song, Strider and the hobbits continue on toward the East Road.

A Few Notes

  • This is such an important turn of the story, and yet I hardly have anything to say about it. Maybe I’m just excited about Glorfindel. “Hail, and well met at last!” Or rather, well met in a few days. Hold tight, kiddos!
  • If you’ve not listened to Rob Inglis reading The Hobbit or Lord of the Rings, you’re truly missing out. I know it’s fun to hear Tolkien read his own work, but Inglis is a voice actor and really does the work justice.
Camera: Polaroid EE100BSL | Film: Fuji FP-100C

Camera: Polaroid EE100BSL | Film: Fuji FP-100C

About the Photo
This is the Fremont Troll. It’s a huge sculpture constructed under the Aurora Bridge in Seattle. How bit? Well under his right hand is an actual VW Bug. I never get tired of visiting him, and a few summers ago, a local drama troupe even performed Shakespeare’s Taming of the Shrew around and on him.

  • Day 80
  • Miles today: 5
  • Miles thus far: 396
  • 63 miles to Rivendell
  • 1,383 miles to Mt. Doom

Today’s stopping place: Book I, Chapter 12. Just past the old stone trolls. (map)