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Archive for the ‘9 – Shelob’s Lair’ Category

What is today? Nothing, really. Gollum runs off. Sam starts to chase him, then remembers that Frodo is in a much worse predicament. Looking over that way, he sees that things are going poorly.

Yes, we knew that. Frodo has no idea that he’s being chased by an enormous spider. He’s in a bad place.

And…it’s the end of the chapter!

Oh. Nothing more?

Oh. Nothing more?

Today’s Gollum Meter: 1 – “Still nope. Always nope. Nope.”

Yeah, that’s it. Everything is bad. There’s a cliffhanger, I guess, in a bad way. Everything’s in a bad way. Bad. At least Sam is alive.

With that, I believe we’re headed to the last chapter of The Two Towers. Can you believe that? Home stretch! Kind of…

Really, kind of. A third left. Although, it is the shortest third.

No one dies today.

“So far Gollum’s plot had succeeded.”

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I wish I truly had the energy level to match the excitement of this page, but I’ll have to give it a try anyway.

Big day for me, and for Sam. Gollum’s surprise attack nearly leaves him helpless, if not for a surge of adrenaline and strength. Gollum is caught off guard when Sam jumps backward into him, slamming him to the ground. Sam has a moment to grab his staff, and takes a few cracks at Gollum’s arms and head. Gollum isn’t for this, not one bit. Profoundly experienced in subduing his enemies before they know what hit them, he doesn’t know what to do against an attacker.

I see that the tables have turned.

I see that the tables have turned.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 1 – “No love here. Thanks for fighting back, Sam.”

Suffice it to say that Gollum has spent years jumping out at orcs under the mountains. He’s fast and sneaky. No orc would have the chance to fight back. Here though, with a bit of a grudge against Sam, he gets caught monologuing. Yes, monologuing, the age-old tradition where the villains have to spend time talking to the trapped heroes. In the meantime, the heroes always have the time to think up, or wait for, some opportunity for escape to present itself. It works here again.

Syndrome famously references this in The Incredibles.

Syndrome famously references this in The Incredibles.

Great then. No sleeper hold for Gollum on Sam. Perhaps someone will put one on me.

No, I won’t need it.

No one dies today.

“Gollum squealed, and springing aside on to all fours, he jumped away in one big bound like a frog. Before…”

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To be fair, many things increase Sam’s level of dismay, but there’s no sense in going into specifics now. When there’s a massive spider chasing your friend, there isn’t time for questions.

First of all, Frodo’s sword is glowing blue. Sting does that when orcs are near. It isn’t even subtle anymore. Shelob is no longer their only enemy in the area. Second, and most of all, Sam sees Shelob squeeze out of a hole. She’s on her way directly to Frodo, who has no idea.

Danger? Naw!

Danger? Naw!

Sam shouts out, but is caught and stopped. There’s a little somebody who doesn’t want this terror stopped.

Hi, Gollum.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 1 – “AGH! Somebody end him.”

And there’s a detailed description of Shelob here. I won’t go too far into it, because it’s disgusting. Every bit of her has to be the most grotesque of any character we’ve seen so far. This is evil and hate in pure form, without much of a brain, but with all the horror.

Oh, the huge spider-ty!

These last few pages have really been over the span of a few moments in Sam’s mind. In all this time, Frodo is just running ahead of him. In good writing, you can pull such a short time out over this length. I don’t think I can do that…yet. I’d like to. Life goal.

No one dies today.

“Taken off his guard he toppled backwards into the arms of his attacker.”

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Tired. Oh so tired. Must. Sleep. Must. Not since yesterday…

AHHHHHHHHH.

AHHHHHHHHH.

Story time. Shelob is evil. Sauron is evil. Sometimes, they are evil together, but not really together. They just coexist. Sam has no clue about this. Times is bad.

Like so bad. For Frodo. And Sam. It’s bad.

Think of it like a symbiotic relationship between Shelob and Sauron. She unknowingly guards this secret entrance into Mordor, and he occasionally sends her some tasty prisoners to munch on. It works out pretty well.

And…really, that’s all, folks. I’m going to go sleep now.

No one dies today.

“Turning his eyes away from the shadow behind and the deep gloom beneath the cliff upon his left, he looked ahead, and he saw two…”

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These are going to get short for a few days again. I’m going out of town!

To Texas!

To Texas!

Frodo and Sam have seemingly completed their escape, coming out into the (relatively) bright lands of Mordor. Frodo’s screaming his head off, which isn’t the brightest thing. Sam follows, keeping an eye on the cave exit to make sure that they aren’t being chased.

A brief history of Shelob follows. She has lived in this land long, since before any people, good or evil, came to it. Her children have spread all over the continent, but she is the last great spider. Gollum found her, years ago, and began to worship her. Somehow, she allowed this, and he promised to bring her the only thing that she values: food.

First Mentions:

-Ungoliant: Mother of all spiders! A great evil servant of Melkor/Morgoth in the old days. Shelob’s mother.

This is all to say that there is a horrible feeling of dread hanging over Frodo and Sam’s escape. Sam can’t shake it, and the feeling is that Frodo’s shouting isn’t helping anything. Meanwhile, we get a profile of the creature hunting them, and it sounds like she isn’t done yet.

Spoilers, right? Again, this isn’t for the first-timers.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 3 – “You worshiped her? No. That’s bad.”

In other news, Shelob occasionally mates with her own sons, and then kills them. Motherly love at its finest!

Oedipus had this problem a little bit too.

Oedipus had this problem a little bit too.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Shelob

-agelong

-Ungoliant

We’ve mentioned her already, yes, but not without the possessive “s”. THIS IS A DIFFERENT WORD, YOU GUYS.

No one dies today.

“Little she knew of or cared for towers, or rings, or anything devised by mind or hand, who only desired death for all others, mind and body, and for herself a glut of life, alone, swollen till the…”

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WOAH THERE. Updated WordPress site! Everything is bigger! I am mostly okay with this, but after staring at these pages every day for almost two years, you notice when things change. We do this with Facebook, too. All the time. With rage.

Remember these times?

Remember these times?

Anyway…it doesn’t take long for Frodo and Sam to realize that they’re caught in a web. And it’s a strong web. Rope-like strands block the way, and Sam tries to cut them loose to very little success. The one he does cut whips back and hits his hand hard.

Of course, anything Sam can do, Frodo can do better. Sting has little problem cutting a way through. Frodo machetes while Sam holds up the light, and eventually the way is cleared. Happiness abounds!

The best thing that I thought of today was how accurate the Lego representation of Shelob is. Hang with me here for a second. In the Lego set, Shelob’s web consists of a string, commonly used as a rope for the Lego figures. And, oh, what’s that? Shelob’s web is literally described as a rope in the text! Hey! That’s perfect!

Meanwhile, THAT’S A REALLY THICK STRING OF SPIDERWEB.

Just picture that now.

Just picture that now.

No wonder Sam has trouble cutting it! His sword is old and not of elven-make, which really makes a difference. Sting is elven, in addition to being well taken care of over the many years since it was found again. Cutting spiderwebs? Like butter!

Mmm…butter.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-greyness

Have the record show that a word so simple as “greyness” still doesn’t even register as a real word with this computer. I’m beginning to think that the people who programmed the dictionaries into this thing were just slacking off.

No one dies today.

“He sprang out, shouting as he came.”

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Hey! Light works!

Funny, that.

Funny, that.

Frodo and Sam turn and run initially, only to discover that the malevolent eyes can keep up easily, just outside of the ring of light around them. Suddenly, Frodo has this strange idea to walk towards the eyes, light and sword held high. The gambit works. Shelob backs down, afraid of the light. Sam runs up, his courage found somewhere, and begs Frodo to turn and run while they have the chance. They do so, but…oops! Even in sight of the exit, they stumble into some sort of barrier.

Oh, that’s a web. A WEB OF LIES.

Except, um...not.

Except, um…not.

Truth be told, Frodo and Sam (in addition to any first-time readers) might not know yet that Shelob is a spider. There have been some hints, but nothing definite. Without that clarity, the logical jump to say that the two are caught in a web isn’t there. I mean, I know that they are; it’s obvious, but only because I know how this whole thing works out.

Also, ALSO, for some reason, when I read this book for the first time (which was before the second and third movies came out), I thought that Shelob was totally just a normally-sized spider. Golly, I was so wrong. I don’t know where I ever got that from. Clearly, my seventh-grade mind was horribly malformed.

Middle school: where imagination is sometimes wrong.

Middle school: where imagination is sometimes wrong.

I think we should all remember this horrible time for me, and hope that mistakes of this magnitude won’t be made by children of the future. I mean, with advances in technology and all, won’t imagination just get better? That’s how it works, right?

No one dies today.

“The outlet was blocked with some barrier, but not of stone: soft and a little yielding it seemed, and yet strong and impervious;…”

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Today’s page outlines a battle far greater than the one actually taking place. In epic proportions, Frodo holds the phial of light given to him by Galadriel, fighting back the darkness. However, another great power fights against this – a dark force now seen by its many eyes – just outside the realm of light.

Yes, it’s really just Frodo holding a light up in the dark cave, and an evil creature drawing back in anger.

Ah! Light is bad!

Ah! Light is bad!

However, this gets multiplied. Here is Frodo, holding aloft the light of a star, bottled magically by one of the most powerful elves in Middle-earth. There is ancient power in that light, and a strange urging makes Frodo call out in Elvish. Shelob, also an ancient power herself, being descended from Ungoliant, has heard this cry before, though she has no need to heed it. It’s a great battle between light and dark, even though that’s a bit blown up.

Now, how well do you remember this little bottle of light? There have been a few mentions of it recently, as Frodo remembered its existence in his pocket, but the first time it showed up was way back on page 376, as Galadriel handed out gifts before the Fellowship Company took their leave of Lothlórien. Frodo received this last of all, though it has been forgotten since then.

Sometimes, our heroes forget about things that they’ve left in their pockets…

And these turn out to be important things.

And these turn out to be important things.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

Aiya

Elenion

Ancalima

Elvish words! You’d think at some point we’d run into some that get repeated. No, the language is really too full for that. Sorry, but there are always going to be new words in that regard, it looks like.

No one dies today.

“Monstrous and abominable eyes they were, bestial and yet filled with purpose and with hideous delight, gloating over their prey trapped beyond all hope of escape.”

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Bad. Bad bad bad. Bad. Bad. BAD.

Strong!

Strong!

There’s this opening to the side. It’s bad. It smells really bad. It feels really bad. It is. Bad. That is. Frodo and Sam stumble by it, though the feeling of dread never really goes away. They soon come to a fork in the cave, and realize that Gollum is nowhere to be found. This, clearly, was his trap. Sam even exclaims so.

Pictured: Sam Gamgee.

Pictured: Sam Gamgee.

I mean, really. Sam says: “It’s a trap!” With the exclamation point. It’s amazing.

However, the awesomeness ends when Frodo and Sam hear a terrifying noise behind them. Yes, that feeling of being hunted is turning out to be true. They can’t see anything, but something is certainly back there.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 7 – “And now we come to it. You suck.”

So…that offshoot passage was probably Shelob’s nest or something. The smell in there is death, of course. And now she’s hunting the hobbits. Gollum, with the adapted ability to see well in the dark, has either sprinted on ahead or slipped off into a branching passage unnoticed. He’s probably more hiding right now than anything else, making sure that he doesn’t get caught up in the hunt. Although, that would be wonderful poetic irony.

Don’t you think?

Regardless, Frodo and Sam find themselves in a very helpless position. Sight is gone, smell is overwhelmed, hearing is sketchy, and touch is about all they have. (We’re going to assume that they’re not taste-testing Shelob.) And they’re up against something that can do all of the above easily, especially the tasting.

Yes, this one does smell a little bit more like "stupid fat hobbit" than Sample A did!

Yes, this one does smell a little bit more like “stupid fat hobbit” than Sample A did!

No one dies today.

“Then the light became colour:…”

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This really is a bad place. In addition to the punishing darkness (more on that later), the stench is overpowering, and a feeling of dread is slowly dulling the senses of Frodo and Sam. Eventually, all they have left is smell, and that’s not what you want right now. The hobbits try to keep one hand on each side of the walls, but even that gets hard.

It is, however, the easiest way to get through a maze.

It is, however, the easiest way to get through a maze.

They hold hands going forward, only walking with the pure drive to get out of here. That, and at least the main way seems straight and even, so they don’t have to work too hard.

And where’s Gollum? In front.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 21 – “I have a bad feeling about this.”

So. Darkness. I really got a good feeling for this last night. After work, at, you know, good old 2:30am, I discovered that I needed to make a quick little jaunt into Indiana to save some folks (girlfriend, of course) from a dead van stranded on the side of the highway. I learned two things: first of all, that the state of Indiana desperately needs to invest in some streetlights, and, second, how it feels driving in near complete blackness. It was the middle of the night, but also there was dense fog EVERYWHERE. I totally got what Frodo and Sam might be feeling right now. In my case, instead of walking into a stinky, scary cave, I was hurtling down a slightly unfamiliar highway. At least, I thought it was similar. And it was a little frightening.

No big deal.

No big deal.

Of course, not as frightening as what Frodo and Sam are really going through. They don’t even understand it fully yet. However, the oppressing feeling of doom is certainly there. That’s always a bad sign of things to come in this book. You should always trust your instincts here. Always.

No one dies today.

“Almost he fell sideways into the emptiness. Here was some…”

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