Archive for the ‘5 – The Bridge of Khazad-dûm’ Category

Not much here today! Just another paragraph to end the chapter.

The Fellowship runs away from the gates as the drums fade. Finally resting, everyone is weeping. Times is bad.

Careful not to choke on those tears.

I don’t blame the Fellowship for stopping to cry. Gandalf was their leader, and the most accomplished among them. And don’t spoil it for them if you know what happens, but seeing Gandalf fall into a black pit sure looks like death to these guys. I’m not sad, but that’s because I KNOW.

Fellowship of the LATE: 57 pages

So yeah. That’s really about it. Take a moment out of your day to mourn for Gandalf.

But not actually, because…um, don’t worry about it.

He’s currently having the best bungee jump OF ALL TIME.

“The drum-beats faded.”

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So…how do I follow that up? Let’s start with the happy: I got this in the mail today.


Yep, that’s Gandalf in his horsecart arriving in the Shire, being greeted by Frodo. And now I can officially say that I own a Lord of the Rings LEGO set.

Anyway, Gandalf falls into a bottomless pit today. Sadness.

He brings his staff down, cracking the bridge, and the balrog tumbles into the abyss. His infernal whip grabs Gandalf and pulls him in too, but you probably knew that. The remaining members of the Fellowship flee to the gates, and Aragorn simply decimates an orc captain of the gate-guard as they go out. Finally, they are back in the sunlight outside, sometime shortly after noon.

Fellowship of the LATE: 56 pages

Now, here’s something that I had a discussion with friends about yesterday: is Gandalf actually a part of the Fellowship?

Okay, okay, wait. I honestly think that he is, but listen to this counterpoint: Gandalf is lost before the group is actually termed “the Fellowship of the Ring”. So…is he a part of that? One of my friends pointed out that they have undoubtedly been referred to as the Fellowship already, even if it hasn’t been mentioned in the text. But isn’t that why we refer to the text? If the text doesn’t say it, we’re just assuming. And I don’t always like to infer things when the text isn’t explicit.

Still though, Gandalf establishes himself as a part of this group, and THAT, I believe, makes him a part of the Fellowship, official naming notwithstanding.

Everything else about this page is really straightforward, and I love the fact that Aragorn brutally owns an orc on the way out. Somewhere, Viggo is smoldering.

Total sidenote: I also love Draw Something.

And guess what? Tomorrow is this last page of this chapter! After a handful of chapters that got up into the 20-30 page range, this one is a solid 12. It feels nice to be zooming along.

“The sun was shining; the clouds were white and high.”

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Happy Memorial Day, U.S. folk! I give you a gift:

It would be on a holiday.


Wait…what? We’ll get to that.

Legolas is the first to see it, and Gandalf understands what it was that had nearly beaten him: a balrog. It stalks towards them, and Gandalf orders everyone over the bridge, although Aragorn and Boromir don’t listen and stay close behind the wizard. Gandalf stands in the middle of the bridge, not allowing the beast to, well…pass. He curses it, and beats back its sword. Even still, the balrog advances, brandishing its whip.

First Mentions:

-the Secret Fire: Some ancient power of Eru Ilúvatar. Sort of a Holy Ghost-type thing.

-Anor: Literally meaning “sun”, Anor is probably referring to the sun’s power. Hint: Gandalf is really powerful.

-Udûn: It actually just means “Hell”. Simple enough.


And there it is, the most quoted moment in all of Lord of the Rings. Well, the movies at least.

And wait, what’s that? The quote in the movie is WRONG! Yep, Gandalf says in the book, “You cannot pass!” CANNOT. I’ll admit, “shall not” is more epic than “cannot”, but that’s a change that has been truly adapted by society. If I were to tell a casual Lord of the Rings movie fan that the movie line was actually not in the book, I’m not sure if they would believe me.

And someone would make this face.

Fellowship of the LATE: 55 pages

Getting past all that, the moment is still great. And, more or less, the movie got the action right. One word isn’t going to change that.

In many ways, this is the most equal enemy that Gandalf ever fights. The balrog is a corrupted Maia, of the same order as Gandalf. Of all the other Maiar in Middle-earth, this is the only one that Gandalf ever comes into direct battle against. Saruman is a Maia as well, but, again unlike the movie, he and Gandalf never really fight.

So, this has every right to be as epic as it is.

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Fun fact: did you know we’re almost exactly one third of the way through the entire novel? Yep.

“Its whip whirled and hissed.”

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Cue the epic music, it’s time for the boss battle.

Quite similar, actually.

First, our setting: the Fellowship runs from the orcs, who find themselves trapped on the other side of the wall of flame. Arrows are let fly, but do no harm as our heroes come to the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. It’s a narrow thing over a black chasm, and they must go single file. Looking back, Legolas cries out in dismay, and Frodo sees two trolls throw large stone slabs over the fire so that the orcs can get over it. That’s not the thing to fear, though…

A dark shape approaches, and the orcs draw away from it in fear. It leaps over the fire effortlessly, and comes forward with a flaming sword in one hand and a whip in the other.


…is the balrog male? The Lord of the Rings wiki refers to it as “it”, but also lists its gender as male. Inconclusive.


I’m terrifyingly happy!

Fellowship of the LATE: 54 pages

Cool note: the Bridge of Khazad-dûm was built as a security and defensive measure. I would assume that the chasm was already there, but the dwarves specifically built the bridge extremely thin so that they could hold it in defense if the First Hall were to be taken. It’s a natural choke point, and there’s no hope of cover if you’re on it.

Speaking of cover, the Fellowship doesn’t need it with how bad of archers these orcs are. No one seems to be that afraid of their aim. The closest hit? Gandalf got a new hat decoration.

In the end, at least the orcs have a plan for getting over the fire. Now they don’t look as silly as they did before. Just mildly silly.

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I actually think that “kerb” is just the same as “curb”. I can’t tell you why there would be that alternate spelling…

“In its right hand was a blade like a stabbing tongue of fire; in its left it held a whip of many thongs.”

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Oh, are we still running away? Yes. Yes we are.

After a while Gimli can see a faint red light ahead. It gets brighter as the Fellowship approaches a large archway. Gandalf scouts ahead, and waves them into another hall. They find themselves towards the eastern end of a long hall, and a crack in the ground to the west is aflame. That was likely supposed to trap them if they had come the main way. From that direction, the orcs are heard, still in pursuit.

Gandalf makes the connection – this fire was set in hopes of cutting off their escape. However, the way things worked out, it looks like it will be the orcs that find themselves stuck on the other side of the line of flames.

No comment necessary.

First Mentions:

-the Second Hall: Where we are! And the fact that it’s the second hall tells you that it’s close to the gates.

-Old Moria: The oldest part of Moria. That’s pretty self-explanatory…

-the First Hall: That should also be self-explanatory. Right next to the gates.

Okay, but wait. Here’s the one problem I have with the logic of the orcs: why did they think that the escaping group would be trapped by the fire? Gandalf overheard them discussing this through the door back at the Chamber of Mazarbul, when they were already forced to take their current route. Naturally, they ended up on the eastern side of the fire. There was no other way it could have happened…

On second thought, why would orcs be smart enough to figure that out? Being generally unintelligent is their thing.

Fellowship of the LATE: 53 pages

Moving on, I want to bring up an interesting line re-appropriation from the book to the movie. In the movie, Boromir asks, “What is this new devilry?” as the balrog approaches.

But it actually kind of looks like he’s asking YOU.

In the book, Gandalf says, “There is some new devilry here,” but he’s referring to the fissure and accompanying wall of fire. Clearly, some writer really liked the line “new devilry”, but they weren’t planning on making some wall of fire important. Balrog? Much more important. Coming soon.

And in Gandalf’s estimation, they’re a quarter of a mile or so away from freedom. So close…

Doom, doom: the pillars seemed to tremble and the flames to quiver.”

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Down we go! The Fellowship runs quickly further and further downwards, until Gandalf believes that they have reached the appropriate depth of the gates. It’s time to look for a way out!

Sadly, it would never be this clearly labeled.

Taking a rest, Gandalf explains what happened when he tried to hold the door against the approaching orcs. He was attempting to cast a sealing spell, and could hear the orcs gathering on the other side. Suddenly, they became silent, and something else entered the chamber with them. Whatever it was, it tried to counter Gandalf’s spell, and he was nearly broken by its power. As the door inched open, it exploded, and the chamber inside caved in. What Gandalf could see was blackness. The light was absorbed by whatever this thing was…

Scary stuff, kind of like how Frodo ALMOST DIED. But, he didn’t, and Aragorn is aghast.

Fellowship of the LATE: 52 pages

Golly, that thing in there must have been super evil! Gandalf admits to not knowing what it is, building suspense. Just chew on this: Gandalf is crazy powerful, and this thing equaled him. Yes, EQUAL TO GANDALF. Not many beings can claim that.

He’s the Chuck Norris of Middle-earth.

Thankfully, the cave-in has bought the group plenty of time. I mean, if Gandalf is going to be chill enough to take a rest and sit down on the steps, I think they’re safe for the moment. Gandalf doesn’t take much lightly.


Absorbing light and covering a room in darkness? That’s a pretty good level of evil going on right there. Kudos.

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That’s the orcish word for “fire”. Now you know.

“‘Well, it did not skewer me, I am glad to say,’ said Frodo; ‘though…'”

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Run away!

Oh, this looks safe.

Gandalf guards the doorway while everyone else scurries down stairs in total darkness. Looking back, they can see him standing still, seemingly muttering words to himself. The walls shake, and a white flash accompanies a loud thud. Suddenly, Gandalf is back with them, but exhausted. He seems to have bought them all some time, but nearly died doing so. Keep going!

Fellowship of the LATE: 51 pages

Wait, Gandalf NEARLY DIED? This is serious.

Well put, Ming-Ming!

He doesn’t elaborate, but I think we’ve met our big bad. “Swords are no more use here,” says Gandalf. Yeah…these aren’t just orcs we’re dealing with anymore.

In truth, right now the main enemy is darkness. Have you ever tried going down stairs in darkness? How about fleeing for your life down unfamiliar stone stairs in a mine that’s more or less falling apart? Not easy. Well, not that I know from experience, but I would assume, you know?

It would help if Gandalf could light the way, but apparently he’s too tired to do that. Please see above picture.

The one good thing is that the stairs are heading in the right direction: down, and gradually to the right. How convenient!

Well, an escalator would be more convenient.

Nevertheless, they’re still all running down steps in the dark. Totally safe.

OH. And Frodo’s not dead. Like that was surprising.

“Gandalf felt the ground with his staff like a blind man.”

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