So, we left off (see Em’s awesome guest recap) with Faramir telling Sam and Frodo that he doesn’t want to see or even hear more news of the Ring. Great guy, that Faramir.
He wakes Frodo up in the middle of the night, telling him he must see something. Wellnow! What is so important? Oh, hey. It’s just Gollum swimming and fishing in the Forbidden Pool. Yeah, the one it’s a death sentence to even drink from. Oops.
Faramir asks Frodo if they should shoot, and Frodo (of course) says no – but Sam is tempted to say yes and just be rid of him once and for all.
So, um…they convince the Boys of Gondor to let them all go (including Gollum), and they’re back on their way to the soopersekrit passage into Mordor.
Scary stuff happens (they’re almost seen by the Witch-King while on the steps of Cirith Ungol), but this is where we get to the part I’ve been dying to talk about since we started this whole thing.
Sam and Frodo demand a rest as they’re walking up the many stairways, they find an out of the way corner to catch their breath and wish for water.
‘And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo: adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into?’
Oh, Sam. What a lovely thing to wonder. I wish I could hop into the book and tell you how absolutely brave and lovely and wonderful I think you are.
And then -
‘Beren now, he never thought he was going to get that Silmaril from the Iron Crown in Thangorodrim, and yet he did, and that was a worse place and a blacker danger than ours. But that’s a long tale, of course, and goes on past the happiness and into grief and beyond it – and the Silmaril went on and came to Eärendil. And why, sir, I never thought of that before! We’ve got – you’ve got some of the light of it in that star-glass that the Lady gave you! Why, to think of it, we’re in the same tale still! It’s going on. Don’t the great tales never end?’
No, Sam. They don’t. And this line alone – where Sam realizes that these two little hobbits, all alone in the Great Wide World are a part of the same stories they’ve heard their entire lives…that these stories are still going on and that they are a part of history…I weep every time. Great big tears, snotty face, heaving chest – everything. I think this section is probably why I’ve re-read these books so many times. Somehow Tolkien managed to put into one succinct thought everything I’d ever felt about books and the joy of reading. The great stories, the BEST stories never end. They’re always there waiting for you.
So, after this, Gollum leads them into Torech Ungol, more familiarly known as Shelob’s Lair. Shelob is the last remaining daughter of Ungoliant, who once hitched her cart to Morgoth’s star. Shelob and Sauron have a bit of an unspoken deal – he doesn’t mess with her and she guards the pass, only occasionally feasting on an orc or two.
Our hobbit friends have made their escape and are heading up the other side, thinking they’re on their way to freedom when Shelob strikes again. Frodo is taken down, bitten when Sam is captured from behind by Gollum. He’s been biding his time, waiting for a chance to take out his “fat little hobbit” nemesis. Luckily, Sam beats him down with the walking stick he was given by Faramir and runs up to chase off Shelob from his master. He sticks her with Frodo’s “sword” and she runs off to nurse her wounds.
Sam thinks Frodo is dead and dithers over what to do next. In true brave little hobbit fashion, he decides that it’s now up to him to carry out the rest of the mission…just as a bunch of orcish soldiers appear and take off with Frodo’s body. It’s a good thing he didn’t wait any longer to make his decision. He has the Ring on and follows them, only to discover that Frodo isn’t dead at all, Shelob only paralyzed him so she could play with her food a little later.
How is Sam going to rescue Frodo?
We’ll find out next week.
SIDENOTE! It’s Amy‘s Book Is Being Published Day! Please go check out her book and maybe buy a copy. I’m reading it right now and it has well and truly blown my socks off. See her page on the publisher’s site here.