Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog – Lord of the Rings (Book II, Chapters 1-5)

Whew!  Thanks to everyone who participated in our first drinkalong last night!  It was fun and confusing and full of hilarity.  If you missed it, I storified (is that a word?) all of the tweets, you can read through them here.  Here’s what I learned:

  1. People really don’t read for comprehension, do they?  I am positive I put an endpoint on yesterday’s post, but *ahem* SOME PEOPLE didn’t stop at the appropriate point.  No, Heather and Eric, I’m not talking about you guys cos I know you didn’t have the EEs, Kate – I’m looking at you.
  2. Without having synchronized watches, just saying “hey, we’re starting at this time” was difficult to pinpoint.  That’s why I made this for next week.
  3. These rules you guys suggested made it REALLY HARD to even watch the movie because I was too busy drinking and tweeting.  I’m not complaining, just sayin’.  We’ll be revisiting the rules and trying to watch more/drink less from now on.  If you have suggestions for amendments, please add them here.
  4. It was WAY HARD to keep up with everyone, and I wish I’d paid attention to Heather when she mentioned tweetchat.  This whole thing would have been SO MUCH easier!  Next week, I suggest we all use this room to easily keep up with everything.

Okay, moving on to our recap!

Frodo wakes up in Rivendell.

‘Where am I, and what is the time?’ he said aloud to the ceiling.

‘In the house of Elrond, and it is ten o’clock in the morning,’ said a voice. ‘It is the morning of October the twenty-fourth, if you want to know.’

‘Gandalf!’ cried Frodo, sitting up. There was the old wizard, sitting in a chair by the open window.

‘Yes,’ he said, ‘I am here. And you are lucky to be here, too, after all the absurd things you have done since you left home.’

That’s right, Gandalf – you tell Frodo what a dumbass he’s been.  We’ve all been saying it!  [sigh]

So, Sam’s surrounded by elves, but like a good little hobbit, he’s been too worried about Mr Frodo to get too starstruck.  Love Sam.

BIG FEAST!  With pretty much everyone important in attendance.  Oh, and Arwen.  Look, I might be a tiny bit prejudiced against Arwen after watching the movies (um…Liv Tyler’s face bugs me, sorry), because MOST of her story takes place in the Appendices.  Honestly, though?  I’d rather read Beren and Lúthien again than read the tale of Aragorn and Arwen because it’s the same damn thing.  Sorry, I’m totally off track now.

Frodo sits next to Gloin, who totally knew Bilbo cos they went hunting treasure together.  Gloin kind of rambles on and on about things that Frodo doesn’t really pay much attention to.

The feast ends and oh!  Look who’s taking a little nap in the hallway!  It’s our good friend Bilbo, yay!

Of course he denies he’s taking a nap, he was merely working on his verses.  He and Aragorn take off together to put the finishing touches on his new song, then Bilbo sings/recites it for the group.  It’s a song about Eärendil and Elwing, but you guys already knew their story cos you read the Silmarillion posts, right?  Right.

The next day, Frodo is summoned to a council with a bunch of elves, some dwarves, some Men and Gandalf.  Honestly, the whole council went on FAR TOO LONG and there was much exposition of things we’ve already read about.  The only new news here was what happened to Gandalf.

One day, on his way to the Shire to tell Frodo he needed to GTFO, he met his Wizard friend – Radagast the Brown.  Radagast told him that Saruman had some VERY IMPORTANT NEWS for him and to get his tush to Isengard post haste.

Gandalf arrived and it was immediately obvious that Saruman’s loyalties were no longer with the other Istari and the well being of the peoples of Middle-Earth.  Nope, he’s totally working with/for Sauron now BUT he wants Gandalf to join him in his search for the Ring so they can take Sauron down and RULE MIDDLE-EARTH FOREVER!  

Of course Gandalf refused (and honestly, my favourite part of watching the movie with everyone last night was Heather’s reaction to the Wizard Duel) and was imprisoned at the top of the tower.  LUCKILY he was rescued by one of the Giant Eagles and ferried away to Rohan (ROHAAAAAAAAN!) where he pretty much stole the best horse ever, Shadowfax.

Anyway, it’s decided that the Ring needs to be destroyed, and of course Frodo is the Ring-Bearer.  Then there’s hemming and hawing over who will go with him, and Sam pops out of his hiding place to say that Frodo ain’t goin’ nowhere without him.  Aw, Sam.

So, Legolas (son of Thranduil from the Hobbit), Boromir (son of the Steward of Gondor), Gimli (son of Gloin), Gandalf, Aragorn and our four hobbits are going to make the trek into Mordor to destroy the Ring and take down Sauron.

Yeah, good luck with that.

Aragorn turns out to be the heir of Isildur and has the shards of Narsil (the blade that cut the Ring from Sauron’s finger the last time), which is reforged as Andúril.

This takes a while, and it’s fully winter by the time they set out.  Sam, of course, has double/triple-checked everything, but frets over having forgotten to pack any rope.

Hiking.  Lots and lots of hiking.  And hiding, then more hiking.  Then, they try to climb the mountain Caradhras, but the mountain doesn’t like them so brings a snowstorm down, and they’re forced to go the way NO ONE WANTED TO GO – they have to find the entrance to Moria, which is kind of guarded by the Watcher in the Water, which stupid Boromir goes and wakes up by throwing shit in the water, and…[sigh]  No one can figure out how to open the stupid door.  Which looks like this, btw:

Anyway, they finally figure out the soopersekrit code word to get the door open, but the Watcher slams the doors shut and they’re all trapped in the dark.

They start making their way down into the mines and find where Balin disappeared to – his grave.

Um…they find, like, the Diary of Moria, which contains one of the creepiest passages in the book, I think.

‘It is grim reading,’ he said. ‘I fear their end was cruel. Listen! We cannot get out. We cannot get out. They have taken the Bridge and second hall. Frár and Lóni and Náli fell there. Then there are four lines smeared so that I can only read went 5 days ago. The last lines run the pool is up to the wall at Westgate. The Watcher in the Water took Óin. We cannot get out. The end comes, and then drums, drums in the deep. I wonder what that means. The last thing written is in a trailing scrawl of elf-letters: they are coming. There is nothing more.’

So, what happens?  THE DRUMS, OF COURSE!

There’s a mighty battle, in which Frodo is speared and surprises everyone by not dying (but, um, he’s got the soopersekrit mithril coat that Bilbo gave him back in Rivendell), and there’s much running away.

So, Amy pretty much summed up the next part amazingly well and succinctly when we were discussing it last week:

…and the elf (crap crap CRAP I’m bad at names because I don’t know them well enough yet…Legolas?) is all freaking the hell out because he just saw a total big bad coming behind them, and Gandalf was like, “well, we’re f*cked, I’m too tired for this shit, you guys.”

Yup.  Why are they f*cked?  Oh, because guess what lives under the bridge at Khazad-dûm?  No, not a troll.  A BALROG!

Gandalf totally rules, though.

‘I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.’

 But, um…the Balrog is knocked off of the bridge and his whip comes up and pulls Gandalf down with him.  His last words?

‘Fly, you fools!’ he cried, and was gone.

So they do.

Discussion Topics

  • Did anyone else think Elrond’s Council was just TOO.  LONG?
  • First time readers – what’s going to happen to Gandalf?  Dead?  Not?  Why?
  • Who’s your favourite member of the Fellowship so far?  Why?
  • Hey, if you guys have things you want to talk about, can you please use the contact form on the schedule page to let me know?  Coming up with extra things to talk about is wearing.  Thanks!

44 thoughts on “Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog – Lord of the Rings (Book II, Chapters 1-5)

  1. Gandalf’s last line “Fly, you fools!” — after what we’ve seen of him and Middle-earth so far, this is the most terrifying line in LOTR, in my opinion. It seems so full of — I don’t know what. For the whole time we’ve known Gandalf, it seems he can’t be really beaten and will always show up in the nick of time to help his hobbits/dwarves/peeps; but with those words, he’s like the father to them all saying, “I can’t handle this! I can’t save you!” and then that’s IT.

  2. You really shine in these summaries. I do hope you’re thinking of another series of books for us to all read together when we’re finished with these. This is a lot of fun.

    Yes. Council of Elrond is loooong.

    Strider/Aragorn/Longshanks is far and away my favorite character. He doesn’t waste time on pity, self or otherwise. He just takes care of what needs to be done.

    • Well, thank you.

      I…am already remembering why I don’t like doing book clubs. It’s hard trying to make sure everyone is caught up and writing these twice a week (I totally overextended myself here), PLUS I’m back into “DON’T YOU TELL ME WHAT TO READ!” mode.

      Oh! And I’m falling WAY behind in the EotW challenge and now I fear I’ll never catch up. [sigh]

      So – in short – probably not, but if we do it surely won’t be 1500+ pages.

  3. QUESTIONS!!! (Hee, how much did I laugh when I saw that thing I said about Gandalf? The MOST.)

    Did anyone else think Elrond’s Council was just TOO. LONG? –Good GRACIOUS yes. They talked for like a YEAR. I skimmed a lot. Get to the ACTION, yo.

    First time readers – what’s going to happen to Gandalf? Dead? Not? Why? –Nope, I knew he wasn’t. Because he’s made of MAGIC. (No, most literally, I think he is.)

    Who’s your favourite member of the Fellowship so far? Why? — Sam. *sigh* I love him to pieces.

    • Yeah, I don’t know why I always forget how effing TEDIOUS the Council is every time I read! Every. Time. I don’t understand it. Anyway, now that I’ve said it outloud, I’m totally skimming from now on. Blergh.

      Yes, I think you can definitely say that Gandalf is quite literally made of magic. But, people who read the Silmarillion summaries already knew that. ;)

      Agreed – Sam is the best. I heart him.

      • I think we get Elrond council blindness just the way all the people who say “OMG, Moby-Dick is the greatest book in the history of ever” forget all the god damn Ishmael showing off his whaling knowledge chapters that make readers want to slice their wrists open with the giant sheaf of paper that is that book (ebook readers are just screwed and have to keep reading). We remember the good and edit out the bad because that’s how brains function.

        Except now. We will always have these blogs to remind us to just effing skip that chapter on future reads.

      • I will summarize: Elrond: “This.” Gandalf: “But this.” Elrond: “Then but this.” Boromir: “Huh?” Frodo: “This.” Elrond: “But this.” Gandalf: “Yes and but this.” Bilbo: “Yes, well I–” Elrond: “Hush. This.” Gandalf: “Uhhhm, then, this.” Everyone: “OK, fine, this. Sheesh.”

  4. I am having a really hard time deciding which of your visual aids I love the most. Of course, any Firefly is good, but damn, the Balrog/Gandalf toy scene is epic in its awesomnity (and it’s apparently enacted in a metropolitan public square somewhere?) and the Gandalf/Black Knight image just ripped my head right off.


  5. Ok, so I’m pretty behind on the reread but might possibly catch up. Even if not, I’ll just be behind and continue myself. I have questions/issues about Tom still, of course.

    SJ, you and I were chatting before a bit about the ring being a ring of power and it made the hobbits disappear because they needed to disappear. I may not have understood you correctly, but I kind of took from this that it was like a ring of requirement (if I explain things in HP terms to myself, it makes them easier for me to understand)–it was whatever the wearer wanted it to be and that is why the hobbits disappeared and why Tom didn’t disappear. But in Many Meetings, Gandalf explains to Frodo what when he wore the ring two chapters ago, he was half in the wraith world. (which I kind of understood as being in the twilight/gloom from Night Watch, etc.) So, was Tom half in the wraith world? Whenever anyone puts the ring on, do they always go partly to the wraith world?

    • I think I also said that it only affected those who were wholly in Middle-Earth. Therefore it wouldn’t have any effect (ie, causing people to disappear) on those who walk in both the physical and the spiritual worlds (like the elves [particularly those who had once lived in Valinor], the Istari [who are basically demigods] and Tom [unknown quantity]). I remember saying that I think the reason it always caused the Hobbits to disappear (when really we don’t know much about what else it did for Isildur, besides betray him to the Orcs), was because hobbits’ greatest wish is to be left alone by the big folk.

      It still doesn’t tell us exactly who/what Tom is, though – other than his own Master.

      • I’m sorry. I didn’t mean for my post to come off as accusatory. You probably did, and I’m just very new to most of these Middle Earthy concepts beyond hobbit=hairy feet and didn’t understand the big words. But understood it when you put it in the terms of Tom being partly in the non-physical world as well. Thank you for being so patient with all the newbies to Middle Earth.

        • Oh, nono! I didn’t think you were coming off that way at all. Sorry, I’m running on very little sleep for the last few weeks and having a difficult time not sounding like a total dick when I talk to people. <3

          • You’re not a duck, I’m ridiculous. I read my original post and I thought it came across as “omg, you lied to me when you told me that Sauron’s horcrux is a room of requirement. What else have you lied about?!”

  6. Am I reading THE ENTIRE STORIFY? WHY YES I am reading THE ENTIRE STORIFY. And giggling. A lot. I’m so sad I missed it. I can’t wait for next week…and zomg how has nobody mentioned your magical countdown device yet??? (So we press play when it hits zero, right? I have understood this correctly?)

    I realized this time around that I lurve Sam. I always kind of hated him before, because Movie Sam infected my brain with his creepy self-debasing Frodo-worship and I forgot that he has a quiet and poetic soul instead of being a mulish enforcer of the British class system.

    Totally had a terrifying dream about Ian Holm chasing a friend of mine last night, only he was about ten feet tall and totes looked like Spock’s dad in the new Star Trek movie, because I may or may not have watched it with Rifftrax last night just before bed…on which note, I am departing to make some Monty Python mashups. Srsly.

  7. The Firefly grave reference had me in stitches – thanks for that, sj!! Oh, and random thought about the movie… Does anyone else think that Saruman could pass as Cher’s twin brother?

  8. I would live in Rivendell, oh yeah I would.
    In fact, I would love to design my own elf house, with lots of silver inlays done to look like vines and leaves.
    I always wondered, when wizards get promoted, do all the other wizards have to change their colors as they move up??? So Twinklelips the pink has to switch to purple while Smorgasborg the purple becomes the peach, while Qwajooli the peach gets bumped up to Snuggleupagus the plaid, and so on and so forth?

  9. Pingback: Of barrow-wights and the balrog: Tolkien brings horror to Middle-earth | As You Were

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