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

We have a guest poster/summarizer today!  You guys that follow the comments are probably already familiar with my friend Em, who goes by Hatzi Hatzi (she’s also @Bill_the_Pony on twitter, so give her a follow and we can encourage her to tweet a little more).  She and I have known each other for…well, crap.  A long time.  I think my oldest was around 5 (he’ll be 13 this year) when we started talking on a sadly defunct Harry Potter for adults forum.  At the time she was a rugby-playing undergrad, studying for her LSATs and we had many many long discussions about Harry Potter theories.  Shut up.  It was fun.  And Em is awesome.  So I was super stoked when she offered to take today’s summary off of my hands – especially since I spent most of this week reading something else and didn’t get all of the reading done in time.  I know.  I suck.  Em doesn’t though.  Promise.


I am flattered to be today’s guest blogger. But be warned, I am not as funny as sj (if at all) and nowhere near as familiar with these books as she is. That is to say, I’ve read them once before about 10 years ago.

Ok, so Frodo and Sam are stumbling around Emyn Muil getting nowhere fast. Gollum nearly falls on them, and Frodo threatens him with Sting, the King of Pain.

Gollum says he’ll help them but tries to leave the first chance he gets. Frodo and Sam decide to try to tether him with the magic elven rope, but it hurts him. So Frodo makes him swear by the precious to be good. Only afterwards does Frodo remove the rope. No coercion there, Frodo.

Frodo tells Gollum to take them to the Gate of Mordor. Like in those obnoxious questy computer games from the ’80s like King’s Quest (I don’t know if anyone knows what I’m talking about) where you had to type in exactly what you wanted the character to do and if you used the wrong word nothing would happen and you would think you were doing something wrong and then waste a bunch of time thinking you were stuck only to realize you were right all along but just using the wrong synonym or you would die and have to start all over from your last save point. No, those weren’t at all frustrating to 10 year olds… Anyway, like in those games, Frodo didn’t say the magic word, and Gollum, literal bastard, said “durr….I didn’t know you wanted to get into Mordor. I thought you just wanted to see the gate.” (Not an exact quote.)   Gollum tells them he knows another way, but Sam’s a little nervous, having witnessed Gollum in a Sybil moment.

That’s totally a hobbit, right?

They see men going to Mordor, and Sam forgets that he’s scared for his life and hates Gollum and recites a poem about Oliphaunts.

Sam gets hungry and starts treating Gollum like a house elf. Go get me food. Now get me water. Now herbs. No, you can’t have any! He also confesses his love for Frodo.

The fire from Sam’s cooking attracts Faramir and Friends. Frodo and Faramir are initially distrustful of each other and they talk about Boromir. These chapters gives us a lot of information about Boromir and just how much he was under the influence of the ring, if at all. Faramir doesn’t seem to know what Isildur’s Bane is,  and describes Boromir as being proud and rash. And wondering exactly how long his dad had to keep Aragorn’s throne warm for him before Denethor could say “no backsies.”

Frodo and Faramir play “guess who died.” “Oh, you know the Grey Pilgrim?” “Yeah, he used to teach us ancient lore.” “Well, he died.” “You’re friends with Boromir?” “…” “He died.”

Faramir blindfolds Frodo and Sam and brings them to the Window of the Sunset and feeds them. Faramir tells them a little about the history of Gondor. Sam tells him about Galadriel. They gossip more about Boromir, and oops, Sam tells Faramir about the ring. Faramir tells them he’s smart enough to leave the ring alone.

Discussion Topic

  • Thoughts on Boromir: what do you think about his own personality versus the influence of the ring? Does your answer change if you consider that he may not have known what Isildur’s Bane was (extrapolating since Faramir didn’t know…I could be totally wrong) when he set out for Rivendell?

SIDENOTE from sj!

I don’t know if you guys saw yesterday when Em posted a link to what is probably the first mention of the Dodisharkicorn in the news?

Click here.  Srsly, click here and watch the first minute.  It’s totally worth it.

This is SO AMAZING, we decided to create a tribute to Ezra Klein for recognizing the awesomeness of Dodisharkicorn.  Hope you enjoy it, Ezra!

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

    • “pull lever”…unfortunately, as a ten-year-old kid, I had no idea that the grey line sticking out of the wall was a lever, so I was stuck for a long time in King’s Quest. (Just remembered that as I read further and had to share.)

  1. I seriously bounced yesterday when I was watching that Maddow clip. YOU ARE FAMOUS!!!

    I laughed a lot at the “guess who died” part of this recap. Thanks for that.

    I never played King’s Quest. How come I didn’t have that? All I had was terrible text-based games where you had to go into a cavern and put a blanket over something called a “grue.” They were time-consuming and there were no pictures and I just imagine kids today playing them and saying, “Um…there are no graphics? LAME!!!1!”

  2. LOVE the King’s Quest references. Totally true! Did you ever play Peasant’s Quest, the full-length spoof put together by the folks at the Homestar Runner site. It’s brilliant.

  3. Holy crap… GO, EZRA KLEIN! You’re famous and that’s awesome.

    Ring/Boromir: Of course the ring has influence on people, but not immediately (at least, not from what we’ve seen so far). Boromir just wanted the damn thing and so he acted like a jerk.

    • I feel as though watching the movie last night with you guys and after reading discussion about it, last night was the first time I really saw the major change that PJ made in terms of Boromir and the ring (this is only my second or second and a half time reading the books, and it was a long time ago). While it’s true PJ made Boromir’s first reaction to the ring to be clearly Boromir’s own and not influenced by the ring, everything that he did after (ring-y music playing around Boromir, having Faramir also try to take the ring for Gondor) made it seem like it was the ring’s influence on Boromir that caused him to act the way he did. Which really pisses me off. Something that I hate in literature is the idea of a chosen one or someone who is better than everyone else just because. And I feel like PJ made that happen by making Aragorn the only man who was able to not fall under the ring’s power. He’s all special because he’s royalty or whatever. I hate that. (I don’t know if this rant makes sense.)

  4. One last comment, now that I have finished all of the chapters…I love how Sam has grown to be so snarky, mocking Smeagol/Gollum with “precious”, and getting pissy when Faramir identifies the pair as not elves because “Elves are wondrous fair to look upon.” Affronted Sam replies, “And we’re not, I take you….Thank you kindly.”

    I continue to adore Sam and appreciate his character development.

  5. Hey… the video worked for a change. You guys are ruling the world soon.
    Boromir was under the spell of the ring. But he had a deep rooted need to save his city. The ring’s power is like hypnotism… you can’t make anybody do something they wouldn’t do any way. But the ring can sense a fatal weakness, a desire, a need, and prey upon it. That is what it does. That is why only someone who has no underlying motive, no greed or lust for power, can carry the ring. That was Gandalf’s brilliant plan.
    Glad I could clear this point up.

  6. Pingback: Puttin’ the Blog in Balrog – Lord of the Rings (Book IV, Chapters 6-10) | snobbery

  7. Pingback: Books to film: The Fellowship of the Ring | As You Were

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