Archive for the ‘11 – A Knife in the Dark’ Category

Do I black out the blog today in protest of SOPA?

Naw. Soup is tasty.

Today is short anyway. Frodo takes some stabs at the Ringwraith’s feet, then gets stabbed in his left shoulder. As he passes out, he sees Aragorn leaping into action with two torches. He also removes the ring from his finger.

Cliffhanger! Frodo stabbed! Aragorn in battle!

I’ll cut to the chase here. Aragorn successfully defends Frodo from death. (Otherwise this would be a short book!) It’s Aragorn, with two torches, versus five Ringwraiths with swords. A lot of debate has been had over how Aragorn succeeds. We are to believe he does so for two reasons:

1) Fire – He mentioned earlier that Ringwraiths despise fire.

2) Fearlessness – Ringwraiths prey on fear. They create an aura of terror about them to incapacitate their enemies. Aragorn is said to have very little fear within him. Thus, he is able to attack at full force.

This begs a question: are Ringwraiths slightly weak? If they rely on incapacitating their enemies with fear, maybe they aren’t all that strong by their own right. Well, think about it, they’re each generations older than your average man. You get a little frail in that time…

"Hm...no. I don't feel like fighting young sprouts today, Sauron. My joints feel a storm coming."

Anyway, that’s the end of the chapter for what it’s worth. What will happen to our injured Frodo tomorrow?

But, before I go, maybe I should say a little something about this SOPA thing. Because everyone else on the internet is doing it. I mean, I know I don’t have some colossal readership or anything, but I would be sad if the government shut me down. Because this is fun. Don’t make me sad. If you haven’t done so already, at least go to one of the petition sites and put your name in. I won’t pretend to know much about SOPA, but anything that would put this little fun thing I do in jeopardy is bad.

Unless it’s Alex Trebek. If he wants to put me in Jeopardy!, it’d be awesome.

“With a last effort Frodo, dropping his sword, slipped the Ring from his finger and closed his right hand tight upon it.”

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What is this? A page of suspense and action? Are we still reading the same story?

What happened to the elven romance novel we were reading two pages back?

Our party can see black shapes climbing into their hollow in the darkness. Merry and Pippin fall to the ground, terrified, and Sam clutches helplessly at Frodo. Frodo, feeling the same fear, has a desire to put the ring on. Without much of a fight, he does so, and can see under the black riders’ robes. They are grey, gnarled old men, and the tallest and most frightening is coming his way. The lead Ringwraith springs at Frodo, and our hero cries out the name of Elbereth Gilthoniel.

Where is Aragorn? What is he doing to help? Uh…I don’t know. He’s plotting. Let’s say that he’s plotting something. But only because we like him.

Here’s where you realize that we’ve caught back on to the movie plot. That entire beginning to this chapter, with the four hobbits and Aragorn plodding along through forest and marsh? Totally just a montage in the film. This page and the next, which is only a short portion of a page to end the chapter, cover this entire attack, which the movie focuses on. It’s because we, as a society, like action.

It is for precisely this reason that Sylvester Stallone has a career.

We want to draw out the sequence where the Ringwraiths bear down on Frodo. It’s exciting. Hell, let’s place it on Weathertop to add something to the setting. Here in the book, we’re in like a little dip on the hillside. Not grand enough for Hollywood.

However, it is for this sudden shift that this book is genius. There’s the backstory. We’ve been over that. Tolkien poured most of his life’s work into creating a full history for Middle-earth.  Then, all of a sudden, we have a driving moment of action. And both are good. We want to read both parts, not just skim whatever we find uninteresting.

At least, well, I want to read both parts. Maybe I shouldn’t speak for everyone. Sorry.

End of this chapter tomorrow!

“At that moment Frodo threw himself forward on the ground, and he heard himself crying aloud: O Elbereth! Gilthoniel! At the same…”

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Blog. Blog blog blog. Bloggy blog blog.

On some days, this may get tedious. I’m trying to stave that off for as long as I can.


Aragorn finishes the backstory of the song, adding that the line of descendants from Beren and Tinúviel runs all the way down through Elrond. Aragorn is very passionate about this. The hobbits watch him closely, and he ends his speech. The moon rises, and Sam and Merry trot off to stretch their legs. Frodo begins to fear the night, and just then Sam comes running back, having had a similar feeling. Merry returns as well, thinking that he saw black shapes advancing towards them. Aragorn commands them to take long sticks, and sit with their backs to the fire.

First Mentions:

-Dior: Beren and Lúthien Tinúviel’s son. Heir to Thingol.

-Elwing the White: Daughter of Dior. Wife of…

-Eärendil: Great seafaring man. Very important in the history of Middle-earth. Fathered Elrond with Elwing.

-Númenor: Island kingdom of men in the middle of the great sea. Sunk long ago, forcing many men to come to Middle-earth.

So, what is important about the story of Beren and Tinúviel is their bloodline. As the ancestors of Elrond, they are also then the ancestors of Arwen, whom Aragorn loves. Also, Beren and Tinúviel are distant ancestors of Aragorn himself. Their granddaughter, Elwing, had two sons with Eärendil. One was Elrond, and the other, Elros, was the forefather of the line of kings that eventually led to Aragorn. So, yes, Aragorn and Arwen are vaguely related.

Don't worry. It's totally not awkward at all.

But wait, there’s actually something exciting happening! The black riders are approaching, or so say Sam and Merry, who might not be the most reliable sources. Oh well, Aragorn believes them, so I guess we should too. Besides, this is getting to be a long chapter, and we haven’t hit any sort of climax for it yet.

So, our heroes sit, with sticks. Thankfully there’s a fire. Otherwise, this would be the quickest skirmish ever. Some of us know how well sticks protect people from terrifying creatures.

Dilophosaurus doesn't want to play fetch!

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Sam says “durstn’t”. I think it means “doesn’t”. I don’t know for sure. Maybe it has something to do with Limp Bizkit.

“For a breathless time they sat there, silent and alert, with their backs turned to the wood-fire, each gazing into the shadows that…”

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Things, things, things. Always happening. Busy. Much to do.


Let’s get right to it!

The song ends, with Beren and Tinúviel both dying, and reuniting in their deaths. Aragorn explains that the song is about these two lovers, both children of kings of their races. Tinúviel, so she was dubbed by Beren, was the most beautiful girl of any race. Beren came upon her when he fled from battle with Melkor/Morgoth (the bigger bad than Sauron). They fell in love, but Beren was captured by Sauron, though Tinúviel freed him. Together they battled to Morgoth, and cast him off his dark throne. Returning victorious with a Silmaril, a great jewel, Beren was killed by a wolf from Morgoth’s lair, and died in Tinúviel’s arms.

First Mentions:

-Barahir: Beren’s father, and king of men in the First Age. Killed while fighting with elves and men to regain a Silmaril from Morgoth’s possession.

-Thingol: Tinúviel’s father, and king of elves. Ruling a hidden elven kingdom, he was obsessed with the Silmarils.

-Angband: Northern fortress of Morgoth. Bad place. Lots of bad.

-the Silmarils: Three priceless jewels, coveted by the elves. Stolen by Morgoth, they were eventually reclaimed, but many things have happened around them forever. There is a lot of fate/destiny/heavy stuff that concerns them.

-the Mountains of Terror: Northern mountains in Middle-earth, thought to be impassable. Beren did it. Good for him.

-Neldoreth: Forest where Thingol’s kingdom is hidden. Does it matter if I say more?

-Esgalduin: Enchanted river. Beren found Tinúviel by it.

So much there! I’m also still refraining from giving our disparately-named friend Melkor/Morgoth a First Mention, because he is only referred to here as the “Great Enemy”. Also, maybe the wolf should get one. He has a name. It’s Carcharoth. Bet you didn’t know that!

It sure is a better name than "Fluffy".

Anyway, song!

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

Just two more stanzas here:

“As Beren looked into her eyes

Within the shadows of her hair,

The trembling starlight of the skies

He saw there mirrored shimmering.

Tinúviel the elven-fair,

Immortal maiden elven-wise,

About him cast her shadowy hair

And arms like silver glimmering.

Long was the way that fate them bore,

O’er stony mountains cold and grey,

Through halls of iron and darkling door,

And woods of nightshade morrowless.

The Sundering Seas between them lay,

And yet at last they met once more,

And long ago they passed away

In the forest singing sorrowless.”

A morose conclusion, I present:

Middle-earth Elf pt.3

(American Pie – Don McLean)

And so we end this three-parter. They tend to come in that length now, don’t they? At least these last two songs have each been three pages worth.

Anyway, there’s so much history here again. I never fail to be amazed at how full and glorious Tolkien’s world is. This song is pretty and all, but you could write another full novel about this story. Action, romance, destiny… It’s got it all.

Pretty much like anything Danny Trejo does.

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Oh boy, that was a lot. You should see how much red underlining has taken over this page. It’s like an elementary school paper’s nightmare.

“‘But she chose mortality, and to die…'”

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We continue with the song some more today! I mean, yesterday…I mean, shoot. I did this late again. Here we go.

I am the object of this woman’s scorn.

So Beren has seen Tinúviel, and she runs off away from him. Winter comes, and he searches for her to no avail. Once winter passes, she returns to the spot he saw her in the woods, and she tries to flee again when he approaches. He calls her name, and she stops. Apparently, some sort of doom is in store for her now…

Golly, why does everything have to end in doom?

Maybe it’s because this story is trying to end there?

Something terrible is going to happen to Tinúviel and Beren. It’s just painfully obvious. Not only does it come straight out and say it, but just look at the way that they get together. He essentially stalks her for a few months, then finds her again and catches her this time. It sounds more like targeted rape than love.

Let’s move on…

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

By now you get it… Here it is:

“Enchantment healed his weary feet

That over hills were doomed to roam;

And forth he hastened, strong and fleet,

And grasped at moonbeams glistening.

Through woven woods in Elvenhome

She lightly fled on dancing feet,

And left him lonely still to roam

In the silent forest listening.

He heard there oft the flying sound

Of feet as light as linden-leaves,

Or music welling underground,

In hidden hollows quavering.

Now withered lay the hemlock-sheaves,

And one by one with sighing sound

Whispering fell the beechen leaves

In the wintry woodland wavering.

He sought her ever, wandering far

Where leaves of years were thickly strewn,

By light of moon and ray of star

In frosty heavens shivering.

Her mantle glinted in the moon,

As on a hill-top high and far

She danced, and at her feet was strewn

A mist of silver quivering.

When winter passed, she came again,

And her song released the sudden spring,

Like rising lark, and falling rain,

And melting water bubbling.

He saw the elven-flowers spring

About her feet, and healed again

He longed by her to dance and sing

Upon the grass untroubling.

Again she fled, but swift he came.

Tinúviel! Tinúviel!

He called her by her Elvish name;

And there she halted listening.

One moment stood she, and a spell

His voice laid on her: Beren came,

And doom fell on Tinúviel

That in his arms lay glistening.”

Far later that I would have hoped, I present:

Middle-earth Elf pt.2

(American Pie – Don McLean)

There are some interesting points to this song, but sadly I’m almost too tired to point them out. There’s some sort of healing effect that comes over Beren whenever he’s around Tinúviel. That’s cool. She also releases springs and makes flowers grow when she sings and dances. Also, quite nice. She’s a total catch, dude.

Maybe you’ll catch yourself a pretty elf one day, kiddo.

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And with that, I’ll leave you for today. I have to sleep eventually, you know.

That in his arms lay glistening.”

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Ah, a night of rest. More or less. There’s still a blog post to do!

Just add blog and work. There I am.

Aragorn is telling ancient lore to the hobbits, and Merry asks for the full tale of Gil-galad. Aragorn refuses, as it is a dark story, and not to be said in such times of trouble. He opts instead for the story of Tinúviel, promising to relay the full telling of Gil-galad once they arrive safely in Rivendell. The story of Tinúviel is sad as well, but aren’t all the stories here? Tinúviel was an elf, dancing in the woods, when Beren, a man, happened to stumble upon her beauty.

First Mentions:

-Tinúviel: Full name, Lúthien Tinúviel. Beautiful elf, and lover of Beren. We’ll get into her story as we go.

-Beren: Man of Middle-earth, lover of Tinúviel. Again, story forthcoming.

So, let’s get to the story, shall we?

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

Oh, I didn’t mention a song, did I? Aragorn sings the story. It starts like this:

“The leaves were long, the grass was green,

The hemlock-umbels tall and fair,

And in the glade a light was seen

Of stars in shadow shimmering.

Tinúviel was dancing there

To music of a pipe unseen,

And light of stars was in her hair,

And in her raiment glimmering.

There Beren came from mountains cold,

And lost he wandered under leaves,

And where the Elven-river rolled

He walked alone and sorrowing.

He peered between the hemlock-leaves

And saw in wonder flowers of gold

Upon her mantle and her sleeves,

And her hair like shadow following.”

The beginning of a ballad, I present:

Middle-earth Elf pt.1

(American Pie – Don McLean)

It’s a ballad. It had to be done. And here’s the fun part: you might have noticed that the song (today) ends in the middle of a stanza. That’s because I’m just stretching the thing out over the length of American Pie. Not all eight minutes, no, but it scans across verses and choruses remarkably well. So, we’re going to do one whole song. In pieces…


Note again that Aragorn stops the hobbits from bringing up Mordor. Thou shalt not speak its name! It is an abomination unto the lord! But really, I haven’t been counting, but Aragorn cuts off conversations concerning evil pretty darn quick. Censorship? Boo, censorship!

But we like him, so I’ll let it slide.

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Um…duh. Was there any doubt about those two names?

More song tomorrow! Because now, I guess, songs are rare. But they’re long when they show up.

And her hair like shadow following.”

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Oh, what a day. Chicago has literally turned into Skyrim (minus the dragons), here I am in the middle of another workday/rehearsal marathon, and to top it all off I have what is, more or less, a zit inside my eyelid. It hurts every time I blink.

It's called a sty, but don't expect me to show a picture of what it actually looks like.

So, today’s action. Aragorn proposes using the firewood nearby to their advantage. Ringwraiths aren’t particularly fond of fire. In the meantime, he and the hobbits set up a fire in a sheltered part of the hollow. They worry about their food stores lasting for the next two weeks or longer, especially worrisome on this lonesome stretch of road. As the hobbits huddle together, Aragorn begins to tell stories and legends.

The point of worrying about food is that most of the lands are barren from here on out. Birds and other animals are around, but hunting and preparing food takes time. Aragorn doesn’t want to waste time doing that when they should be hurrying along. The only travelers they may run into are going to be too concerned with their own business to care to help, so they’re truly on their own. Seriously, Bear Grylls would come in handy here!

Who knows what it is...it doesn't matter. It will still go in his mouth.

How about a little fire, Ringwraith?

This was coming, sooner or later.

Times are good now, as we listen to stories by the fire. But that fire is their weapon against the black riders, and they’re on their way. Sam correctly states that the fire will be a signal to the riders just as much as it could help our heroes. The riders are only coming faster now.

“He knew many histories and legends of long ago, of Elves and Men and the…”

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