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Archive for the ‘3 – The Black Gate is Closed’ Category

Back to the grind today, after Sam finishes the poem. He reiterates how wonderful it would be to see an oliphaunt, and that he would have done anything to get a look, even if that meant taking a risk to break their cover. Gollum maintains that he has no idea what Sam’s talking about.

Sméag-otter.

Sméag-otter.

Frodo, lightened by the laughter from Sam’s poem, finds the effort to make a decision. He agrees to try Gollum’s secret way.

And that’s the end of this chapter!

Today’s Gollum Meter: 74 – “Okay. Things are good.”

Once again, Sam is the least intelligent one here. Alright, I won’t debate how cool it would be to see an oliphaunt come striding their way, but is it really worth giving away their position? What if the entire quest to destroy the ring was derailed because Sam needed to see an oliphaunt? That won’t win you any awards. Especially when you’re dead.

Cool image: Frodo wishes that they had an army of oliphaunts to ride and break down the Black Gate. And give Gandalf a white one to ride at the head.

AHHHHH RUN AWAY!

AHHHHH RUN AWAY!

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

Shiretalk

-Sunlands

-Swertings

-oliphauntses

Long story short: if it’s a capitalized compound word beginning with “s”, it’s probably not a real word. Be on the lookout for that.

No one dies today.

“‘Soft and quick as shadows we must be!'”

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And now for something lighthearted. Frodo, Sam, and Gollum hear the men move off, and they can relax a little. When Gollum mentions that they were probably men from the south, Sam can only ask one thing: were there oliphaunts?

Gollum is confused. To elaborate, Sam recites a poem about the legendary beasts.

He neglects to mention their dancing.

He neglects to mention their dancing.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 67 – “You’re losing points purely based on your ignorance of the oliphaunts.”

Okay, so this is unique! I can get behind it. Sam stands up, assuming the “speaking poetry” stance, and recites a little ditty about oliphaunts. Yes, these are just elephants, but more exciting. He goes through the typical descriptions – grey, big, floppy ears, etc. He also talks about how one couldn’t fathom their existence without actually seeing one. However, once you’ve seen one, you won’t forget it.

Pretty much.

Pretty much.

It’s all because hobbits have this strange fascination with oliphaunts, even though they don’t seem to be interested in too much else outside their own world. Of course, Sam takes any fascination to the next level, just like how he was obsessed with meeting elves way back when the journey was just beginning.

Now, even though Gollum has talked so much about knowing all sorts of things because he’s been around for a while, he doesn’t know a thing about oliphaunts. What’s the reason for that? He already said that his people had stories about the southern lands. And nothing about oliphaunts? That, I don’t understand.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Morannon

-oliphaunts

Oliphaunt

No one dies today.

And I never lie.

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ANOTHER casual Ringwraith flyover? Getting old, man, getting old.

So…uh, that’s what happens. Frodo and Sam fling themselves to the ground once again as some four dark shapes fly above. They’re very high up, so it’s unlikely they can see anything on the ground below. Then, they go away.

Exactly like that.

Exactly like that.

In the aftermath, as Frodo is about to rally them all to get going, they hear the cries of an approaching army. There’s nothing they can do but continue to hide. Gollum crouches on the edge of the hollow, trying to watch what’s going on.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 71 – “I’m okay with all this today.”

Once again, I find myself getting a little sick of the repetitive stuff lately. It’s just another Ringwraith visit, making everyone terrified before they go away. We’ve done this before. Multiple times already. WHAT MORE DO I SAY.

Uh...

Uh…

Losing…interest…in page. Must…keep…blogging.

HOW MANY TIMES DO THESE FLYOVERS NEED TO HAPPEN TO PROVE A POINT?! What’s going on here, anyway?

There. I said something constructive.

No one dies today.

“Presently the voices began to recede again, and then they slowly faded away. Far off a…”

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Oh, and there’s the name. Frodo spends a lot of time today wondering what Aragorn or Gandalf would have said about this place. Probably bad things. Sadly, they’re both far away, and Frodo actually still thinks that Gandalf is dead somewhere. Even were he to be around, it’s unlikely that he could have traveled far into Mordor. Has anyone?

Well…Gollum has. Anyone trustworthy?

Who you callin' untrustworthy?

Who you callin’ untrustworthy?

The day passes with Frodo, Sam, and Gollum sitting uneasily and quietly in this hollow, unseen by any eyes.

First Mentions:

-Cirith Ungol: That’s the name of the pass, duh! Think of it this way: Ungoliant was a great evil spider (aren’t they all evil?) of the olden times. Hm…Cirith Ungol? Ah.

Don’t ever forget that Frodo still assumes that Gandalf is dead. Can you imagine reading all of Frodo’s story not knowing that the wizard has come back? That’s what Frodo and Sam are doing, FOR REALZ. Gandalf is hope and wisdom, and the hobbits think that he’s gone. Hope and wisdom, gone from the world. That doesn’t sound fun at all! Anyway, that’s what they’re dealing with, and I tend to forget about it sometimes. Don’t! It’s so much more impressive that they’re able to keep going when you consider that.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 67 – “Nothing much I can do but try to trust you now…”

In other news, we get a bit of a crossover today to let us know that Aragorn and Gandalf (who we’ve mentioned) are currently speaking with Saruman on the steps of Orthanc right now. Synchronicity!

Many miles away, something crawls to the surface of a dark Scottish lake.

Many miles away, something crawls to the surface of a dark Scottish lake.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Ungol

“Cirith” is already acceptable. I like when that works out. MY COMPUTER IS LEARNING, YOU GUYS.

No one dies today.

“Frodo’s head was bowed over his knees, but Sam leaned back, with hands behind his head, staring out of his hood at the empty sky.”

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About a third of the way down this page, Frodo asks a question. Gollum mutters and steps around everything so much that the question remains relatively unanswered by the bottom of the page. So that’s what today’s going to be about.

At first, Gollum describes this secret way into Mordor. It’s a high stair, climbing the mountain pass. It finds itself going into a tunnel before coming out onto the plains of Mordor. This is the way that Gollum “escaped” from Mordor many years ago, and found this passage by accident. Of course, we all are suspicious of the fact that Gollum’s escape may have been planned. Aragorn said so earlier, but the mention of him scares Gollum into more muttering. And that’s how we get to where we get.

With the help of Apple Maps!

With the help of Apple Maps!

Frodo assumes that this path must be guarded, some way or another. That’s what Gollum skirts around answering. As it sounds, he traveled this way so long ago that things may have changed. The stair may have vanished completely!

WHAT.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 63 – “Grumble. Grumble. GIVE US THE INFORMATION.”

Now, one doesn’t even stop to think about the fact that Gollum found this passage while going west. We’re going to need to find it going east, which may not be as easy as you’d think. Two directions are bound to look different each way. Not to mention the whole problem that Gollum took this road so long ago that most of his information could very well be outdated. It’s very much like using an old road map. New roads? What?! That exit is closed now? My favorite were the ones that tried to show you where the construction was on the highways. Sure, like there’s ANY way that that would be accurate. Do you not know how road construction works?

Half the street is unnecessary anyway.

Half the street is unnecessary anyway.

In the end, Frodo and Sam are going to trust everything they know to this vague plan of Gollum’s. But, what else can they do? Again, this entire journey is dumb as it is. Why not? That should be their motto.

No one dies today.

“The name of the perilous place and the high pass he could not tell, or would not.”

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Yesterday, I was trying to figure out why the road past Minas Morgul would be safer than the Black Gate. That’s what today answers.

Sam voices the very concerns that I had. Why bother traveling so much longer and further south when the outcome is probably going to be the same. Sauron watches every way into his kingdom, yes?

According to Gollum, this way isn’t watched as much. Yes, Sauron knows everything that goes on along this road. Yes, there are terrible things in Minas Morgul. You get it. However, Sauron holds the crossings of Anduin. He would look there first, where an army would have to fight its way across, or take a large amount of boats. Both would be obvious.

Unless, you know...stealth boat.

Unless, you know…stealth boat.

Gollum continues to fight off Sam’s questions, ultimately saying that, while this is a long shot, so is EVERYTHING THEY’RE TRYING TO DO. One does not simply walk into Mordor! We’ve been over this. Everything is going to be wildly difficult, but you have to try something.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 82 – “This makes so much sense! Thanks!”

Remember when I brought up the fact that Gollum refers to Sauron has “He” with a captial “h”? Godlike, it seems. Frodo and Sam haven’t done so. Sauron is just another dude to them. Not so starting today. Sam brings in the capitalization, interestingly enough. Is that a symptom of spending a lot of time with Gollum and his strange perspective? Possibly. I can’t imagine that Sam’s opinion of Sauron is changing drastically, but this is just one of those things that you can do in writing to emphasize certain things. I’ll keep an eye on that.

SO WILL EYE.

SO WILL EYE.

In case you were wondering, Sauron only speaks in capital letters. Interesting…

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Moontower

Silly mashed-together compound noun words. They cause so much trouble.

No one dies today.

“‘But if master says I must go or I will go, then he must try some way. But he…'”

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It’s tough to get any hard information out of Gollum. He twists and turns, much like the road he’s trying to describe. As it turns out, they need to take the west/south road from the Black Gate. After a while, you’ll come to another crossroads. The road turns west to Osgiliath, where it crosses Anduin. South it goes to the mysterious lands of hot sun and evil men. What about that? Let’s talk about that. That’s important!

BLERG.

BLERG.

Frodo gets Gollum back on track, where he remembers that the eastern fork from this intersection heads up to the mountains, and a tower. The Tower of the Moon! Let’s talk about the old legends of Gollum’s people! NO.

Yes, this road leads to Minas Morgul, née Ithil, where Sauron overthrew the great tower of Gondor.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 64 – “Getting off topic is annoying, but there’s something redeemable about it.”

So…this road actually makes sense! When the men of Gondor built Minas Anor and Minas Ithil, they needed roads to connect them to each other with Osgiliath in the middle. There you have it. Of course, with evil overtaking Minas Ithil over time, that portion of the road became disused and forgotten. It’s now just another way to simply walk into Mordor, but a whole lot less open to attack than the Black Gate. You can’t assault Minas Morgul like you could the Black Gate, so people probably don’t think of it as a way into Mordor anymore. Besides, it’s horribly evil now. Worse than the Black Gate.

By comparison.

By comparison.

There’s something sad about Gollum remembering the stories of his youth. He’s still in there somewhere, and this is why he can connect with Frodo and Sam. Again, he’s part hobbit. Were he not twisted around by the ring, he might just be an okay dude. Hypothetically speaking.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-squeakings

I always wanted to see what the other lands (east and south) of Middle-earth were like. It’s sad that today’s page has one of the better (and extremely brief) descriptions anyone ever gets.

No one dies today.

“‘Well, master, there it was and there it is: the tall tower and the white houses and the wall; but not nice now, not beautiful. He…'”

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It’s ultimatum time, and Frodo seems to be a little more aware of what’s going on than what either we or Sam thought.

First of all, Frodo admits to starting to trust Gollum. That’s nice. However, he warns of a danger to Gollum. Not the vague “danger” they’re all in, and not directly from Frodo or Sam, but the danger that the ring poses to Gollum.

But it looks so nice and safe!

But it looks so nice and safe!

The ring knows Gollum. It’s been working on him for generations, and the poor guy is completely twisted by its power. Should Frodo, the ring’s current master, order Gollum to do something, it will be hard to refuse. In fact, it would be nigh unto impossible. Gollum must be careful.

This talk brightens Sam up, who had previously thought that Frodo was ignorant of Gollum’s desire for the ring. Gollum, meanwhile, has the pants scared off of him, and can’t do anything but grovel and mutter. Oh well. Let’s get going!

Today’s Gollum Meter: 58 – “Looking better.”

Yet again, here’s Frodo talking about how he holds all power over Gollum. That ring is really taking hold, huh? Here’s what I would like to see: Frodo mentions that he could possibly put on the ring in a time of great need. Were he to command Gollum then, his full power would be used. Does it work that way? Yes, a mortal being wearing the ring turns invisible, but do they also gain the power over wills that Sauron imbued the ring with? Okay, well I don’t really want to see Frodo do that, but I do want to see Gollum being ordered around by a disembodied voice. Sounds like fun.

Pretend the guy isn't actually visible and you've got it.

Pretend the guy isn’t actually visible and you’ve got it.

And yet once again, Gollum is stuck on the ground, muttering incoherently. This is becoming quite the pattern. I’M GETTING SICK OF IT.

No one dies today.

“But Gollum was in a pitiable state, and Frodo’s threat had quite…”

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No decision’s coming yet. While Sam goes over Gollum’s possible ideas in his own mind, Frodo stands looking at the Black Gate and lands before them. Roads converge from each direction. Looking more closely, Frodo can see armies marching to Mordor. No, they aren’t allies of theirs coming to attack Sauron, but evil men from the east, coming instead to join with the dark forces.

Those are the eyes of the "If you can't beat 'em, join 'em" philosophy.

Those are the eyes of the “If you can’t beat ’em, join ’em” philosophy.

First Mentions:

-the Eastlands: Um…yeah.

Somewhere in the back of Frodo’s mind, he wanted the trumpets to be ringing in alarm. Was an army approaching to attack, giving them the cover to slip in during the chaos? It’s not the worst idea, but it’s not what’s actually happening. Of course, at the time, the narrative implied that the trumpets were sounding for the changing of the guard. Now it’s to greet the Easterlings? Okay, whatever.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 56 – “No real comment to make. Stay frosty.”

In case you were wondering, there are three roads that come together at the Black Gate. One comes from the north, which Frodo and Sam might have tried to take if Gollum had not led them through the Emyn Muil and the Dead Marshes. Another comes straight from the east, which is probably what these men have just arrived on. The last road takes a turn west and south, making its way between Anduin and the western mountains of Mordor.

And all roads lead to evil.

And all roads lead to evil.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-trenchlike

-Eastlands

No reference to WWI implied. Wait, Tolkien fought in WWI? Hm…

No one dies today.

“As if suddenly made fully aware of the peril of their position, alone, in the growing…”

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By now, everyone has their own agenda. Frodo wants to get to Mordor, however quickly he can. Sam wants to help Frodo do what he needs to do, but his highest priority is to get rid of Gollum. Gollum, well…he’s the hard one. He wants to save the ring. But he wants to keep Frodo alive because he promised. But he wants to kill Frodo. But…

Oh dear.

Oh dear.

Gollum says that there’s another way in. Another way? Why haven’t we heard of this before? You’d think that would have saved everyone a lot of time, but Gollum follows orders, and the orders were to go to the Black Gate. So here we are. Gollum goes on and on about how he does nice things for his nice master. Sam, meanwhile, finally lets us know about his feelings – that Gollum is a two-sided, no good, scruffy-looking nerfherder.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 53 – “In a holding pattern until your hand gets shown a little bit more.”

Here are Sam’s two nicknames: Slinker and Stinker. Slinker is Gollum’s Sméagol side, always seeming to do good, but slinking around in the background. Stinker is Gollum proper, the bad side of him that stinks up the place. Make sense? Sam believes that, for now, the two sides have found a middle ground. Neither wants Frodo taken, and both CERTAINLY want the ring to stay out of the reach of Sauron. So, they can work together to steer the hobbits away from the Black Gate. They’ll keep an eye on Frodo for as long as they need to, if it pleases them.

Meow.

Meow.

Keep this in mind, too: at one point Gollum talks of the secret way into Mordor in these terms: “Yess! Yess indeed!” Remember, I noticed that Gollum’s, um, Gollum side is the one with poor spelling and grammar. There he is.

No one dies today.

“Sam’s guess was that the Sméagol and Gollum halves (or what in his own mind he called Slinker and Stinker) had made a truce and a temporary alliance: neither wanted the Enemy to get the Ring; both wished to keep Frodo from capture, and under their eye, as long as possible – at any rate as long as Stinker still had a chance of laying hands on his ‘Precious’.”

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