Like A Short Rest, this is another chapter where our friends get to rest and relax in a fantastical setting.

Which is to say that, once again, not a lot happens. Tolkien does mention a few things which are probably worth pointing out, however.

He mentions Radagast the Brown, another wizard of Gandalf’s order. In his film adaptation, Peter Jackson is expanding Radagast’s part from a mere mention to a full-fledged character played by the great Sylvester McCoy. Radagast, of course, also has the distinction of being insulted by Saruman in The Lord of the Rings.

He mentions the Necromancer who has set up shop in Mirkwood. Gandalf will later reveal (at the end of The Hobbit, I believe; but it might also have been in The Lord of the Rings. I suppose we’ll find out when we finish this book!) that he leaves the quest at the edge of Mirkwood to go convince the various powers to force the Necromancer out of his stronghold there. I believe that Jackson is going to make this a larger part of his The Hobbit film as well. And, of course, The Lord of the Rings will eventually tell us that the Necromancer was really Sauron, the great Enemy of the Age.

We meet Beorn. Beorn is unique in Tolkien’s universe. He’s clearly magical but it is not at all clear from where that magic stems. Is he a Maia like Gandalf? Some other nature spirit? Something else entirely? I do not know. He’s at least as much an enigma as Tom Bombadil, but I’ve never seen him discussed at length.

And that’s it. The party hangs out at Beorn’s house for a bit and then they head into Mirkwood after being warned repeatedly to not stray from the path.

There’s not even a good hook in this chapter for me to tell a different story. Next week should hopefully give me something a little meatier to write about.

This is another chapter that doesn’t do a lot for moving the story forward and contributing to the lore. But, unlike A Short Rest, there’s at least a lot of action going on here. Unfortunately, that’s all that’s almost all that’s really going on. This is Tolkien’s Die Hard 21.

What little development there is happens at the very beginning. So that’s where I will focus my attentions today as I flit from small topic to small topic.


Bilbo, as you may recall, has found himself in possession of a magical Ring (though he doesn’t know about the capital-R just yet) that can make him invisible. After using this ring to escape the goblins, he starts to wonder where his friends are. He’s concerned that they’re still lost in the goblin tunnels and feels that it’s his duty to go back and look for them. It’s not something he’s eager to do (“…and very miserable he felt about it…”), but he knows it’s the right thing to do and so sets his resolve.

Thus is Bilbo’s character (and, by extension, the characters of all of our heroic hobbits) revealed: he’s quiet and unassuming and just wants to be left alone. But there’s steel at his core and he can be counted on to not leave the helpless behind when he’s the only one around who can step up. Yes, it helps (of course) that he has a magic ring of invisibility. But that only lessens the risk to his person: it doesn’t remove it. Without the Ring, I think Bilbo would still have resolved to go back. It just would have taken him a little longer to talk himself into it.

For whatever reason, this core of steel is found in many (if not most) hobbits. Gandalf knew about it (which, presumably, is why he chose Bilbo for this little expedition in the first place). Frodo will show it in a few decades when he agrees to take the Ring from the Shire and later agrees to bear the Ring to Mordor. Sam will show it by refusing to leave his side. Merry and Pippin will show it by going on that quest merely out of friendship. We see it when the entire Shire is roused to defend themselves in “The Scouring of the Shire”2.

I personally aspire to being as brave as a hobbit. I fall far short of that mark3.


After Bilbo reunites with the dwarves, he uses the Ring to play a trick on them and then tells the story of his escape while omitting any mention of the Ring (“…’not just now’ he thought…”).

Though we don’t really know it in The Hobbit, this is the first instance of the Ring starting to affect Bilbo’s mind. Though this is a mild instance, it’s a darkness where he starts seeking to deceive people he trust him. In the long years that Gollum had the Ring, he convinced himself that it was “his birthday present”. Similarly, even now, Bilbo’s mind is starting to craft the reasons and excuses why the Ring truly belongs to him and only to him. He keeps it secret since the Ring is driving him to jealously guard even the knowledge of its existence.

After Bilbo finishes his Ring-less story, Gandalf says “Mr. Baggins has more about him than you guess.” and “…gave Bilbo a queer look from under his bush eyebrows, as he said this, and the hobbit wondered if he guessed at the part of his tale that he had left out.”

I’m not sure if Tolkien ever gave an “official” answer to this, but I think the extent of Gandalf’s guesses here would be the realization that Bilbo must be leaving something out (since the story would be highly improbably otherwise) and noting that this kind of deception is strictly atypical for Bilbo’s character. In The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf notes that he had to pressure Bilbo later to get the real story which I think leads credence to this. Further, if Gandalf knew (or even suspected) that Bilbo had a magic ring, I think they would have quickly found themselves marching back to Rivendell.

Anything else would have just been a result of Bilbo’s Ring-driven paranoia.


Our friends eventually find themselves cornered in trees by evil wolves. Strangely, Gandalf’s best plan at this moment seems to be to burn the forest down. This shows a conspicuous lack of forethought. I don’t really know what to make of that.

Fortunately, this mistake doesn’t really matter since the greatest plot device and greatest deus ex machina in Western literature soon appears: the Great Eagles once again save the day!

I’ve got to tell you: I don’t love the Eagles. Tolkien had exactly one “I’ve written myself into a corner and don’t know what to do” button and it was labeled the word “EAGLES” written in big red letters4. “Oh no! I don’t know how to save the dwarves! I’ll send the Eagles!” “Oh no! I don’t know how to save Gandalf from Saruman! I’ll send the Eagles!” “Oh no! I don’t know how to save Frodo and Sam from lava! I’ll send the Eagles!”

Which, of course, leads every fan to eventually ask, “Why didn’t Gandalf just get the Eagles to drop the Ring into Mt. Doom?”. Everyone has their own pet theories about that (I have mine, of course) and it can make for rousing discussion. But the fact that it’s a question that even needs to be asked is, possibly the sloppiest bet of storytelling that Tolkien ever did.

Which is a pretty small complaint, really, compared to all of the absolutely wonderful storytelling that was his more usual forte. So I’ll forgive the Eagles.

But I couldn’t let this chapter pass without at least mentioning their great big plot holes.

  1. This is how I know there aren’t ghosts: after I typed that sentence, Tolkien did not come back to attack me. ↩

  2. Which you will regrettably not know about if Peter Jackson is your sole source of Ring-lore. It’s astounding how that giant ommision was capable of changing the entire story. But I digress. ↩

  3. Though I’m making pretty good progress on the “six meals a-day” aspect of hobbitness. ↩

  4. This may have been a little too abstract. ↩

Out of everything that Tolkien has written, this is my favorite chapter. I suppose it’s only fitting (and probably causal) that it’s also one of the major lynchpins that the entire universe hangs on.

Because this, of course, is the chapter where The Hobbit finds The Ring. (I get chills just writing that sentence.) But, aside from being a moment of epic important in the universe (and a moment of pretty major importance in the story of this book), it’s also a delightful chapter because it introduces Gollum.

I don’t really remember what it’s like to read this chapter without knowing who Gollum is. That’s got to be so weird. Because, if that’s you, you don’t really know about the poor and pitiable wretch twisted by ages and ages of the Ring’s whisperings in his mind. You don’t know about the pleasant days of a certain Sméagol going fishing with his best friend. You don’t know about that little spark of good that still survives in his black and decaying heart. You just see a creepy little creature who hisses a lot.

Like I said, that has to be weird. If that is you and you decide to follow up this reading of The Hobbit with the much more serious Lord of the Rings, I strongly encourage you to come back to this chapter when you’re done. You might be surprised at just how much of Gollum is lurking beneath the surface of these pages.

But, I’m getting rather ahead of myself. Because before Bilbo (and we) can meet Gollum, he has to find the Ring.

He guessed as well as he could, and crawled along for a good way, till suddenly his hand met what felt like a tiny ring of cold metal lying on the floor of the tunnel. It was a turning point in his career, but he did not know it.

The author understates things here: Bilbo finding the ring was a turning point for far more than his career as a burglar (of course, that belongs to another story). Knowing that larger story, however, we can see the common refrain of world events turning on the smallest of chances.

Here, it’s Bilbo finding a small ring and absentmindedly slipping it into his pocket. Popularly, this idea is often referenced by the phrase “For want of a nail…“. We’re all familiar with it because it’s such a common part of our lives. “I was ten minutes later than usual getting to the coffee shop and I meant my wife of fifteen years standing in line.” “On a whim I ordered chicken instead of a burger and avoided that outbreak of food poison that was in the news.” “The boss really liked the tie I picked out for the interview and offered me the job.”

As humans, this is mostly just selection bias at work. If you hadn’t been late to the coffee shop that day, you’d have met someone else somewhere else and tell stories about that funny coincidence. As a rule, we ignore all of the little details that don’t lead to something extraordinary and we can’t account for all of the many possible worlds where those details were just a little bit different.

This idea comes up in history class as well, with our teachers providing a sort of authority to it. We learn about some almost random guy, Gavrilo Princip, who assassinated Archduke Ferdinand but almost completely ignore the fact that Europe was a powder keg that was set to go up at any moment. If Princip hadn’t killed the Archduke, World War I would still have started and we’d be learning about some different little chance that caused it.

But we like the narrative of a singular (maybe even coincidental) small event having dramatic effects, so we keep telling our stories that way.

Yet, here in The Hobbit, it’s almost exactly the opposite. Dear, sweet, practically uncorruptable Bilbo Baggins being in those mountains and stumbling down that tunnel where Gollum had been so recently is a billion to one chance; yet in that billion to one chance, the fate of the entire world would change in a way that it could never have been otherwise. In this moment, that one small person with that one tiny and insignificant action made earth-shattering history.

And, where this is a major theme for our lives, it’s barely touched on by Tolkien. Indeed, most of Tolkien’s world is shaped by Great People doing Great Things: Melkor working against Ilúvatar, Fëanor crafting the Silmarils, Fëanor and his sons later swearing their terrible Oath, Eärendil braving the Valar’s wrath, and Sauron crafting the very Ring that’s in question are all some of the more prominent examples of this. With the exception of Frodo and Sam1 (and to a much lesser extent, Merry and Pippin, and maybe Bard of Laketown), the role of the less important people in Middle-earth is to be stalwart and faithful in their loyal service to their leaders.

And then there’s this moment. This moment, where Bilbo is scrabbling around on the ground, may be the most important moment in Middle-earth since Fëanor created the Silmarils. And all that Bilbo does is unthinkingly shove his hands into his pockets.

Other than to point out that it exists, I don’t know what else to say about it. Heck, it’s entirely possible that I’m misreading every word that Tolkien has written. If so, I beg you to correct me. But, maybe I’m right. Maybe this is a strange aberration in the legendarium. If so, is this an egalitarian side of Tolkien shining out from behind his class-based views of the social hierarchy? Or is this an artifact that The Hobbit started as a simple and self-contained children’s story and only later “grew in the telling”?

I won’t try to assign motivations to the Professor. But I do think it’s a fascinating departure from the rest of his writings that’s worth noting.

At any rate, Bilbo does lay hands on the Ring. And then he wanders down to the edge of an underground lake and meets Gollum. I love Gollum. I love the way he talks and I love the way he thinks and I love the way he moves. Gollum never just “walks” somewhere, no precious. He “slinks” and he “sneaks”. I can find faults with Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings films all day long, but the Gollum that he gave us was spot on. More than the other characters from those films, when I read Gollum’s lines I can’t help but hear Andy Serkis delivering them in my head.

(The admission fee for Jackson’s The Hobbit film this year will be worth it just to hear Serkis perform the “Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it forever!” bit. My patience until it comes out is wearing thin based on that single line.)

But, as much as I love Gollum, there isn’t that much to talk about in his appearance in The Hobbit. Here, he really serves to scare Mr. Baggins good and proper, explain what this new magic Ring does, and lead Bilbo to the way out of the Goblin caves. Along the way, he and Bilbo have a good old-fashioned riddle game2 which, while fun to read3, doesn’t have a lot for me to write about.

Eventually the riddles conclude, Gollum decides to eat Bilbo anyway and Bilbo makes his escape. It’s at this point that he discovers that his new Ring is magic and can turn him invisible. It’s at this point that Bilbo starts to wonder, just a bit, about fate.

It seemed that the ring he had was a magic ring…but it was hard to believe that he really had found one, by accident.

If Tolkien didn’t spend a lot of time on the minor chances that make up our lives, he more than made up for it by writing about Providence. I talk a lot about Tolkien’s ideas of Providence because I think it’s one of the most important themes in his writings (though it’s rarely stated overtly.). As Gandalf says in a different book, “I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.”

As I can’t help but keep stressing because it’s so important, Tolkien’s Catholicism made him extremely comfortable with — even dependent on — the idea of a divine plan. Yes, Melkor’s wickedness brought terrible darkness with it, but it was all part of the Plan. And yes, Fëanor’s Oath had dire consequences, but it was all part of the Plan. Yes, Smaug has killed countless numbers of dwarves and me, but it was all just another part of the Plan. Because for every Melkor there is a Manwë and for every Fëanor there is an Eärendil and for every Smaug there is a Bilbo Baggins of Bag End.

For, in Tolkien’s world, all of that darkness is another opportunity for the light in the hearts of the stalwart to shine all the brighter. And that’s all according to plan.

There’s more to it, of course. Sauron forged the ring and it was cut from his hand and taken by Isildur who lost it in the Anduin where it was found by Gollum who carried it deep under the Misty Mountains where he lost it in a Goblin tunnel where Bilbo Baggins of all people stumbled in and picked it up so that he could leave it to his heir Frodo who would carry it to Mordor. It’s an unbroken chain of those small coincidences, but each and every one of them was another step in the Plan.

Even when the Ring acts of its own volition and slips out of Gollum’s reach in the the tunnel or off of Bilbo’s finger when he’s trying to go unnoticed by the Goblins (or, indeed, when it slipped off of Isildur’s finger at the end of the Second Age), it can’t help but follow the Plan.

Tolkien lived through two world wars, seeing the horrors of the first one from the front lines. It’s small wonder that he drew a great deal of comfort in his knowledge that the All Knowing was overseeing everything and that good would triumph in the end. As such an important part of his life philosophy and character, it’s also small wonder that his secondary world shows such strong evidence of a divine Plan — even when it’s in something as small as a little hobbit picking up a little metal ring.

Quotes

  • Bless us and splash us, my precioussss!
  • I am Mr. Bilbo Baggins. I have lost the dwarves and I have lost the wizard…” — I should start introducing myself like this.
  • But they [the goblins] don’t like the sun: it makes their legs wobble and their heads giddy.” — I draw attention to this quote because it’s a single throw-away sentence (to explain why the goblins don’t catch Bilbo after his escape) that turns into a plot-point in The Lord of the Rings when Saruman breeds his Uruk-hai who are far less encumbered by sunshine.
  1. And even with the exceptions of Frodo and Sam, Tolkien makes a large point that they both *became* larger-than-ife heroes in the process of fulfilling their missions. In the end, they weren’t small people doing a small, but important thing. They were bonafide heroes saving the world. ↩

  2. This scene will be referenced (I assume) in Stephen King’s The Wastelands, book 3 of The Dark Tower saga, with much better riddles (not to mention an insane monorail; gotta love King!). ↩

  3. If you’re alone in the house (or live with tolerant people), I *highly* suggest you do a dramatic reading out loud. Tons of fun! ↩

As promised by the last short rest, this chapter is filled with adventure — none of it to our protagonist’s liking.

…when they had said good-bye to Elrond in the high hope of a midsummer morning, they had spoken gaily of the passage of the mountains, and of riding swift across the lands beyond…Gandalf had shaken his head and said nothing.

At this point, it’s safe to say that the dwarves talk a good game; but, for all of their mocking of Bilbo (“He looks more like a grocer than a burglar!”), they’re not really any more prepared for this adventure than he is. Bilbo, at least, has had the good sense to be terrified and uncertain from the beginning.

So, I suppose it’s a bit surprising that he manages to become even more terrified when the storms start. I really love the description of the storms here: “…storms come up from East and West and make war.” And then he goes on to describe a horrific mixture of thunder, lightning, and pelting rain.

And then the giants show up and start tossing boulders around. Because every good storm needs giants tossing boulders around; otherwise, it’d just be too boring, I guess. The giants are actually somewhat mysterious in Tolkien’s legendarium. Though there are a couple of other references at other points, this is the only place where giants actually appear in the canon. So I encourage you to enjoy this unique moment in Tolkien lore.

And, in this lone appearance, they just serve to drive the story forward and press our party to finding shelter in the cave. And while our friends make themselves comfortable, I always like to take a moment to remember those poor ponies. It’s a tough life for a horse in Middle-earth, often both short and cruel.

As the goblins start grabbing dwarves left and right, Gandalf seems to use more magic: “there was a terrific flash like lightning in the cave, a smell like gunpowder, and several of them fell dead.” It’s hard for me to imagine real fire magic actually smelling like gunpowder, so I’ve always assumed the Gandalf actually was using gunpowder; the same sorts of chemicals that go into his often-remarked-upon fireworks.

As a corporeal spirit being, Gandalf has access to an enormous amount of supernatural power but he always prefers to use more natural and indirect ways to influence events and solve problems. He only brings his real magic to bear when he runs out of other options. So I like to think that Gandalf has some kind of wizard utility belt where he stashes stuff like high-proof fireworks powder for just the sort of occasion where he might need a flashbang1.

Unfortunately, Gandalf only manages to save himself and his companions are marched to meet the Great Goblin, who not a pleasant character by any stretch. He (along with the rest of his people) is, however, an expert at identifying thousand year old Elven swords. Even Elrond had to examine the runes on this blade before positively naming it, but the goblins know it immediately as Orcrist, or Biter — despite the fact that it was probably one of thousands made during an ancient war and despite the fact that any orc who saw it in person during that war was probably not long for the world.

It’s possible that goblins share immortality with the elves2, but it seems highly unlikely that more than one or two in any gathering of goblins would immediately recognize a particular sword from such an old war. Still, here it is so it must be true.

And, as the goblins are starting to get really worked up over this sword, Gandalf shows up to save the dwarves. Which I think is a valuable lesson for us all: when adventuring, be sure to carry a literal deus ex machina with you in the form of a wizard whenever possible.

Gandalf’s heroics lead to one of the best scenes in the book: the dwarves running as fast as they can down dark tunnels while tossing Bilbo around so they can take turns carrying him around on his back. It’s a subtle sort of comedy that doesn’t fall back on obvious jokes or clever wordplay. Instead, it relies on us, the readers, to imagine the scene and provide the comedy for ourselves. And I think it works brilliantly, especially when it’s placed so seamlessly into this dangerous and tense situation. I sincerely hope that this scene makes it into Peter Jackson’s film adaptation. I’d love to see it.

It should also be noted that the goblins recognize Gandalf’s sword, Glamdring, as they are spilling their blood on it. There’s a joke to be made here about the goblins giving up their orcish ways and setting out to make their fortunes with a Middle-earth version of Antiques Roadshow, but I don’t know what that joke is.

Instead of putting their talents to that more noble use, the goblins wage a fierce battle with Gandalf and the dwarves. Dori is grabbed from behind and Bilbo is lost to our party. And that’s all he knows of their fate.

To find out his own fate, Bilbo will need to read the next chapter with us. And he’s in for a treat because it’s the chapter I’ve been looking forward to since starting this project. But that will have to wait for next week.

Quotes

  • There is nothing like looking, if you want to find something…You certainly usually find something, if you look, but it is not always quite the something you were after.
  1. It should be noted that I have no authority whatsoever to speak on these matters. It’s entirely possible, maybe even likely, that Tolkien once wrote a letter where he explicitly said that Gandalf used magic in this instance and that magic just happens to smell like gunpowder. One of the many problems with being a dilettante is that I often don’t know what has and hasn’t been published. Still, this is how I like to think of it. ↩

  2. Morgoth originally bred the orcs from captured elves as a mockery of their fairness. ↩

Where the previous chapter was a straight-forward adventure, this chapter is decidedly the opposite sort of thing: a straight-forward bit of relaxation after the preceding excitement. It’s a chance for both the adventuring party and the reader to catch our metaphorical breaths before heading in to the Misty Mountains.

Unfortunately, that doesn’t leave much to talk about. Our heroes do some walking. They look for white stones. They meet some elves. They hear some songs. They meet Elrond and hang out for a bit. They find out some secrets from their map and then move on.

Fortunately, there are enough hints of the larger world to give a Tolkien fan-boy something to latch on to. Elrond and Rivendell are introduced. Moria and the dwarves’ war with the goblins are mentioned. The ancient city of Gondolin and the elves’ ancient war with the goblins are connected with the blades found in the previous chapter. There’s a lot of history there.

So, since there’s not a lot in this chapter, let’s talk about some of that history.

In the text, Tolkie says of Elrond: “In those days of our tale there were still some people who had both elves and heroes of the North for ancestors, and Elrond…was their chief.”. This is something of an understatement and Elrond’s lineage tells an engaging story in its own right.

Elrond was the son of Eärendil and Elwing. Elwing was the daughter of Dior, the first half-elf. Dior was the only son of Beren and Lúthien Tinúviel, who have one of the founding tales of Tolkien’s mythos.

But — as wonderful and Beren and Lúthien are — my favorite story in the entire legendarium is that of Elrond’s father, Eärendil. I’d like to tell you that story. But theirs is the culmination of the much longer tale of the Silmarils. So I need to very briefly recount that. The full story is much richer (and much better told) and is available in The Silmarillion, which was published after Tolkien’s death.

Story Time

In the beginning of the creation, the great Valar were given dominion over the world and they ruled it from their home in Valinor. To ease the darkness, the Valar created two great Trees. The Trees would glow and provided a beautiful light for the world. A great elven craftsman was so taken with the light of the Trees that he created three great jewels and captured the light of the Trees in them. These jewels were named Silmarils.

The great enemy, Morgoth, was jealous of the light of the Trees and he conspired to destroy them. He was eventually successful (though, to keep the world from plunging back into darkness, the Valar then created the sun and the moon) and stole the Silmarils as a bonus. This caused rather a lot of problems for everyone, one of which was that the Valar curved the path of the world and removed Valinor from it. For good measure, they decreed that any mortal who set foot on Valinor would die.

Much later, the man Beren fell in love with the elven Lúthien. Lúthien’s father wasn’t happy about his daughter cavorting with a human, so he gave Beren some impossible tasks to be able to win her hand: one of those was to retrieve a Silmaril from Morgoth’s crown (who had been ruling or terrorizing Middle-earth for many years). Beren, being a Hero, succeeded and he and Lúthien eventually had a granddaughter, Elwing.

Elwing, who possessed the Silmaril that her grandfather had retrieved from Morgoth’s crown, married Eärendil, a great mariner. After their home was destroyed, Eärendil and Elwing set sail seeking Valinor to beg aid from the Valar in finally defeating Morgoth. They knew that they would fall prey to the curse the Valar had set, but Eärendil accepted that cost because of his love for both men and elves and Elwing accepted it because of her love for Eärendil. The Valar were so taken with this selfless act they they did not kill Eärendil and Elwing. But they could not allow them to return to mortal lands.

So the Valar built a great ship for them. Elbereth herself (the creator of the stars and most beloved Valar of the elves in Middle-earth) set the Silmaril upon Eärendil’s brow. And the Valar placed his ship in the heavens so that the light of the Silmaril would shine down as Eärendil and Elwing sailed across the sky.

You can stand in that light yourself. Early tomorrow morning, look for a dazzling pinprick of light to the east. The elves call it Eärendil, but you and I usually call it Venus1.

End Story Time

This is my favorite story in all of Tolkien (and it’s one of my favorite stories in all of literature). Among other things, it’s just a beautiful tale in its own right. A selfless act is rewarded by turning the person into a star. That’s top-shelf storytelling right there. There are few things as awe-inspiring as a star-filled sky, much less the morning star2 itself. For Tolkien to take that beauty and immensity and to weave a story out of it is a thing of brilliance and I can’t help but be deeply affected by that story.

But I also love how it’s an important story in the context of the other stories in Middle-earth. Another reward that the Valar give Eärendil and Elwing was the ability to choose between the fates of elves (immortal and tied to Arda until the end) and men (mortal and given the gift of passing into the mysteries of death). This ability passed to their descendants as well and plays a part in The Lord of the Rings.

Additionally, the Valar were moved by the pleas of Eärendil for Middle-earth and they waged a final war upon Morgoth. It was during this war that Morgoth first unleashed the great flying dragons. Eärendil, in his ship in the heavens, battled the greatest of these and ultimately defeated it. But he didn’t slay them all and there is a flying dragon in The Hobbit that wouldn’t have been there if not for Eärendil moving the Valar to action.

Finally, in the Lord of the Rings, a great elf will capture the light of Eärendil’s star in a small glass bottle. Without giving too much away, let’s just say that it will prove useful.

So while not a lot happened in this chapter, a lot happened leading in to this chapter and leading out of it. Much like roads, history is a great river and if you don’t keep your feet, there is no knowing where you might be swept off to. The mythic history of Arda is all the more impressive in this regard for having been created out of the imagination of a single man while still having enough depth to feel as though it was created slowly over millennia.

Still, this sort of thing may not be everyone’s cup of tea. Rest assured that there is plenty of action coming up as our heroes must make their way over or under the Misty Mountains. Hopefully, I won’t need to reach quite so deeply into The Silmarillion for that.

But I’ll make no promises on that regard. Sometimes, I just can’t help myself.


  1. “Early tomorrow morning” if you’re reading this shortly after I post it and live in my hemisphere. A quick web search should help you find it in your own time and place. ↩

  2. Yes, I am aware that Venus is a planet. Please don’t email me about it. ↩