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Archive for the ‘3 – Mount Doom’ Category

I actually had a pretty solid plan of getting this post out at a reasonable time tonight, then literally EVERYTHING took way longer than planned, and here I am at good ol’ stupid o’clock pounding this out. I admit, this page deserves better.

Are these stickers?

Are these stickers?

The ring is gone. It fell into Mount Doom with Gollum, and Sauron’s power is destroyed. Everything in Mordor goes wild: towers falling, fires blazing, armies running in disarray; the Nazgûl are burnt out of the skies. Sam runs to Frodo and drags him outside before they’re engulfed in the churning magma, and the two lie in each other’s arms, just happy to have made it to the end of all things. Frodo wakens, and looks to be coming around to his former self. He thanks Sam for all he’s done.

Yep, that’s the end of all things. End of the book, right?

Today’s Gollum Meter: 92 – “I think you’re going to get a raise every time you come up again.”

NOPE. We’ve still got like 60 pages, you guys! Of course, this is the first point in the movie where the screen fades out, somewhat signaling an ending. There’s a lot of those.

Direct line quote, that.

Direct line quote, that.

Anyway, the main quest is over! The big bad is defeated! Much rejoicing! We’ll get to that, but now my narrative changes a little bit. I’ve been saying that I’ve committed to “taking the ring to Mordor” with this blog. Well, the text has done it, but I’m not done yet. However, saying something like “sailing on the last ship from the Grey Havens” just doesn’t have the same, um…ring to it. I’ll stick with my previous goal, even though it’s technically obsolete.

“‘Here at the end of all things, Sam.'”

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Frodo invisible. Sam down. Gollum in attack mode. This is it.

Sam comes to and sees a strange interaction. Gollum is fighting air, swinging left and right, until he makes a motion to bite something. Frodo appears, falling to the ground, and Gollum holds a finger and the ring. He dances and jumps for joy. After years and tracking, hunting, and stalking, Gollum finally has his Precious again.

Relevant.

Relevant.

The victory is short lived. Gollum steps wrong, and teeters over and into the chasm.

And if you have any knowledge of this story, you know how this happens already. This brings the end of the ring. Gollum is the final ringbearer, accidentally falling with it into the fire of Mount Doom. So, does that mean…

Today’s Gollum Meter: 87 – “I can’t go all the way to the top, but you’re the very reason that the evil is brought down. That counts for a lot.”

Yeah, I kind of always knew that Gollum’s rating would take a huge jump on his last day. I argued with myself about whether to bring it all the way up to 100, but that just didn’t seem appropriate. He does attack Sam and Frodo to get here, and now Frodo’s missing a finger. Nobody’s perfect.

OM NOM NOM.

OM NOM NOM.

We have one more page in this chapter, and I guess technically that’s when the ring is destroyed, but we can call Gollum gone. He falls far enough to kill him with or without lava, but this time, the floor is ACTUALLY LAVA.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-steerless

Oh, yeah, there’s a cool part mentioning how Sauron feels the power of the ring within Mount Doom, and turns his entire attention to it. His servants are lost without his guidance, so it seems like the battle around Aragorn falls utterly apart. That’s helpful for him.

“Out of the depths came his last wail Precious, and he was gone.”

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I feel as though I stand on a precipice, having taken this unfathomable journey, yet procrastinating. Almost every night, I put this off. It’s not because I don’t want to do it – I have thoughts and ideas about what to post from the moment I read/type each page – but I get stuck, teetering on the edge of committing to the plunge of writing another post, and thus bringing about the end of my night.

And so it is with Frodo as well.

After letting Gollum go, Sam turns to run after Frodo. He can’t see him, and so follows the pathway up Mount Doom until it reaches an opening in the cone. Darkness swallows what dim light there is, and Sam is hesitant to enter. Red light leaps from the chasms and fissures of the volcano, and in its shadows Sam sees Frodo standing still on the edge. Frodo turns to Sam, and declines to destroy the ring. It is his.

Just don't go cross-eyed.

Just don’t go cross-eyed.

All this time, a shadow has followed Sam. He didn’t see Gollum turn and sneak back.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 2 – “Pity is useless now.”

Frustratingly, if I wasn’t holding myself down to one page a day, we could be flying at this point. No one reads the climax of a book this slowly, and it hurts a little bit. You’ll see at the end of this post as well that this page ends on the worst cliffhanger imaginable. We all know what’s coming, but we – I – need to see it. We crave it, just like how Gollum or Frodo craves the ring. Events are moving quickly, though I won’t allow myself to keep at their pace. It’s maddening.

Anyway, you have to know where this is going. Three chapters only into the second half of Return of the King, and our big climax is mounting. That should give you an idea of just how much there is left after that. I may even be thinking that my estimated end time of March was a little early. I refuse to do the math, but we might just sneak into April. And the ring is going down this week. Still such a looooooong way to go.

No one dies today.

“Sam gasped, but he had no chance to cry out, for at that moment many things happened.”

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Is this what the ring really does?

So small a thing...

So small a thing…

Sam sees a vision in which Frodo, robed in white and holding a wheel of fire, commands Gollum to be gone. Though the vision passes, Gollum is significantly moved, and Sam takes the moment to step in. He tells Frodo to go on ahead while he deals with Gollum.

Standing there before the pitiable creature, Sam finally understands his wretchedness. Having held the ring but even for so short a time, Sam knows the pull that it has on the soul. Gollum grovels for his life, knowing that he will die with the destruction of the ring anyway. Sam lets him go.

This is not before the biggest foreshadowing of them all. “If you touch me ever again,” says the commanding Frodo, “you shall be cast yourself into the Fire of Doom.” Yeah, and since we aren’t troubled by spoilers…

SPOILERS!

That’s exactly what happens! Gollum does indeed touch Frodo once again later, and then Gollum is cast into the fires. Simple stuff, really.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 15 – “Ah, understanding. We still loathe you, but we can see something of ourselves in you.”

Going back to Sam’s vision, he sees Frodo as “a figure robed in white, but at its breast it held a wheel of fire.” The nature of the ring’s power is always vague, but this could be our best look into it. The ring’s central power is control. It controls those who its master commands. Wielded by someone with great power, it can command armies. Frodo has no such power, but his might is certainly greater than one so broken as Gollum. Perhaps Gollum sees the same vision, and it frightens him. I don’t see why, only now, Sam sees this image as well. Maybe it was finally time for us to understand a little better this thing on which the fate of the world hinges.

Such hinges.

Such hinges.

Meanwhile, Frodo says farewell to Sam. His final push will take him to his destination, and he plans to get there without any more help from his trusty gardener. It’s Frodo’s game to lose now.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Dusst

When this ends, it’s going to get so dusty in here, you guys.

No one dies today.

“Gollum got up on all fours, and backed away for several paces, and then he turned, and as Sam aimed a kick at him he fled away…”

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And so we go on. Now that Frodo’s collapsed, he wants Sam to carry him again. Sam finds the going hard, but they’re making progress, so that’s better than nothing. He hardly notices something shadowy drop off from a rock nearby.

THWACK!

Holy blunt force trauma, Batman!

Holy blunt force trauma, Batman!

Sam comes to his senses to see Frodo battling a withered Gollum for the ring. The miles of following the hobbits have weakened the gangly creature further, and Frodo, even in his frail state, overcomes him.

HE’S BACK.

Today’s Gollum Meter: 0 – “Welcome to the lowest of the low, o ye final obstacle of total victory!”

I’m actually glad to see the consistency that Gollum would be worn down after all this journeying just like Frodo and Sam. Sure, he probably doesn’t need as much food or water to live on, but he also hasn’t been as good about keeping himself nourished. He’s even more skinny and hollow than previously, and that’s a hard feat to accomplish. Because of this, even Frodo can beat him.

Frodo, of course, is only waking up because he senses a threat to the ring, which is really all he can care about at this point. He can’t help it, but the will to protect this precious item is stronger than the will to survive.

Must...protect...preciouss...

Must…protect…preciouss…

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Preciouss

-uss

Sso, that’ss about it for today’ss thoughtss. Let uss move on to tomorrow’ss page, where Frodo and Ssam will continue the lasst leg of their journey!

No one dies today.

“‘You cannot betray me or slay me now.'”

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It’s crawling time. When Frodo and Sam get up to get going once more, Frodo suggests crawling. Okay. Let’s do that.

Move, move, move!

Move, move, move!

The road cuts across Mount Doom before them, a pathway built and maintained that stretches from Barad-dûr to the mountain. Frodo suddenly stops and looks east, seeing Sauron’s fortress before him. Sauron’s attention is turned elsewhere, however, towards the battle brewing with Aragorn’s forces at the Black Gate. Frodo collapses at the sight.

First Mentions:

-Sauron’s Road: Aw, it’s his personal road! I mean, I guess what else are you going to call it?

-the Window of the Eye: This appears to be a window to Sauron’s own chamber in Barad-dûr. This begs the question…

So, what about that Eye of Sauron? Book purists say that Peter Jackson’s depiction of Barad-dûr with a big old flaming eye on top was ridiculous. Sure, it really doesn’t seem to fit with the way magic and structures worked together in Tolkien’s Middle-earth, but hear me out a second…I think Jackson’s version was fairly darn faithful to the text. Observe: “One moment only it stared out, but as from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red, the flicker of a piercing Eye.”

Does that not sound somewhat like what the film visualized? Now, much is made of similes when comparing the text to the films, such as the balrog’s shadow stretching out “like two vast wings.” Does that mean the balrog has wings, or that its shadow merely acts like wings? Much debate. In the Eye of Sauron’s case, we have another simile: “But as from some great window immeasurably high there stabbed northward a flame of red.” However, this simile doesn’t appear to be talking about some sort of flaming eye. In fact, it mentions the possible existence of a window, but the flame and eye are not included in its comparison. In essence, it says that a flaming eye spouts from something like a window, but does not imply the true existence of a window.

So, yes?

So evil.

So evil.

There isn’t a pure and simple answer here. I didn’t think that there would be anything this notable to debate, though. I had assumed that we never got a clear description of Barad-dûr, and most people simply didn’t envision it having a flaming eye atop it. Not to say that it couldn’t, but no one specifically said that it did. Instead, we do have a description, and it actually seems to indicate this appearance.

And what does it matter? Envision it how you like. I’m reading too much into things, like I do.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Sammath

No, that is not an alternate nickname for Samwise, but maybe it should be.

No one dies today.

“Faint, almost inaudibly, he heard Frodo whis-…”

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I’m making a concerted effort to write this earlier than I have been getting used to, to try to avoid this anger that the internet has developed for me. I did say I thought that, at some point, my tardiness would come back to bite me. It’s been trying.

In its cold heart, the internet has been plotting my downfall.

In its cold heart, the internet has been plotting my downfall.

In today’s action, Sam begins his march up Mount Doom with Frodo on his back. Sam finds Frodo surprisingly light, and is happy to not notice any added weight from the ring. He walks until he can go no further, then sets Frodo down. Frodo opens his eyes and thanks Sam. Sam then sees a path some way ahead, winding up the mountain. This is their chance. Though Sam still does not know the way, this path will lead him exactly where they need to go.

Hey! A path! To be honest, I have no idea what a path is doing in this part of the world. How often does Sauron venture up to the Cracks of Doom? You’d think that he went up there to forge the ring, but I wouldn’t know of any other reason for a continuous usage of the direct magma. Who’s maintaining this path? That might be either the worst or best job in Mordor, when you think about it.

Better than fighting, right?

Better than fighting, right?

I mean, really, there are a lot of roads in Mordor, for forces marching this way and that. There has to be someone in charge of them, and undoubtedly someone who ventures up here from time to time. It’s like the guy who does the landscaping on one mostly inaccessible spot on a Disney World ride. It’s hard to get to, but it has to be done, I guess.

Enough about that! We’re so close! Sam got further today than he expected, and we’re somewhat halfway up Mount Doom. Onward!

No one dies today.

“Sam could not see the course immediately above him, where it was lowest, for a steep slope went up from where he stood; but he…”

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Okay, so today isn’t about walking, which is amazingly different. Sam and Frodo are once again resting after a long day’s march, though Sam can’t sleep much. He sits awake for most of the night, which seems to go on endlessly. When Sam rises, he rouses Frodo, who begins to helplessly crawl up the side of Mount Doom, now looming before them. That won’t do, so Sam plans on carrying Frodo.

*Music swells*

Yeah, the line itself is a little different from the “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you!” that the movie touts. It’s really “I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well!” It just doesn’t have the same, uh…ring to it when you include the ring.

Nevertheless, we’ve noted one more time that this appears to be the end of the journey. Frodo and Sam are now literally at the feet of Mount Doom, though it certainly looks like it will take some time to climb, as well as to find the entrance that they need to use. Sam still has no idea what they really have to do at that point.

Meanwhile, anyone who ever questions who the real main character of this book is needs to take a second read. I’ve been smoldering on this for a while now, but Sam is clearly the one who we’ve truly taken this journey with. We’ve watched him grow, even as Frodo deteriorated. Instead of getting inside Frodo’s mind all this time, we’ve been traveling with Sam. He’s only the gardner, but he’s our hero now. Carry Frodo to victory!

No one dies today.

“‘Just tell him where to go, and he’ll go.'”

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Sam’s thirsty and weary mind plays games with him as he and Frodo take their rest. In short, today’s page is mostly about Sam arguing with himself, trying to both fortify and dash his hopes of reaching Mount Doom. He seems to be willing to give all that it may take, though he still has very low expectations of success. He also has no idea what to do with the ring once they get to the mountain of fire.

I DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY HANDS.

I DON’T KNOW WHAT TO DO WITH MY HANDS.

A rumble is felt underground from Mount Doom, and the next day’s march dawns. This appears to be the end.

First Mentions:

-the Pool at Bywater: Somewhat of a swimming hole in the Shire. Hobbits don’t much like boats and swimming, though.

-Jolly Cotton: Wilcome “Jolly” Cotton is a friend of Sam’s, and brother to his dear Rosie Cotton.

-Tom: Another Cotton sibling, the eldest of the five.

-Nibs: The youngest Cotton, whose real name is Carl. Carl, Nibs, whatever.

There’s a lot of time spent these last few days in Sam remembering details from the Shire. This is contrasted nicely with Frodo’s dissolution of memory. Sam doesn’t have the same weight that Frodo does, and he’s surviving off of fond memories from his home. If he can complete their task, maybe, just maybe, he’ll get to go back to all of this.

Deep down, we're all just trying to get back to a simpler time in life.

Deep down, we’re all just trying to get back to a simpler time in life.

OKAY. OKAY. LET’S GET THERE ALREADY.

The end of this page starts off with the idea that Frodo and Sam are on the last leg of their journey. I want it. FINISH IT.

In truth, I’ve come to the realization that the destruction of the ring won’t be even close to the end for me. The post-climax action of this book continues on for quite a while. I’m sure there will be a big release on my part once we hit that big destruction moment, but don’t you ever get comfortable in thinking that the end is in sight.

No one dies today.

“He was in pain, and so parched that he could no longer swallow even a…”

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This was almost the end. I don’t mean of the story. This was almost the first blog post, everyday since July 27th, 2011, that didn’t happen. My internet was nearly the death of me, and I was minutes away from calling it. Thank you, unsecured apartment complex network. Thank you.

I think I have to be the jerk who asks this: If Frodo can’t recall any of these things, then how can he remember them at all?

I’m terrible. Of course, Frodo hasn’t lost all memory of the finer things in life, but he’s so preoccupied with thoughts of the ring that they seem like faraway snippets of a lost life. While he’s dealing with that, Sam goes off to throw their unnecessary belongings into a ravine. They turn towards Mount Doom and begin what should be the last leg of their journey.

Best leg.

Best leg.

The day’s march goes well, as Frodo appears to have new strength. As the day draws to a close, he has struggles again, but one can expect these at this point. We’re so close!

To be brutally honest, most of my thoughts of analysis went out the window when I nearly had a panic attack about missing today’s post. My fear came in stages: first, I thought that everything would be okay. I’ve seen my internet have issues late at night before, and things usually get resolved in a matter of minutes. Next, I got sad, but accepted my loss. Finally, the panic came. I refused to let this be the breaking point. Now, I wouldn’t have ended the blog, of course. I would have just done two posts tomorrow, and felt dirty about it.

But anyway, there was serious panic here. I’ve been thinking a lot about how this is going to feel when it finally draws to a close, and I wasn’t prepared to have to deal with a time when I failed, somewhat, in my mission of writing these each and every day. Sure, I’d get myself to the end, but it would feel incomplete. Heck, I still feel guilty every time I post after midnight, which is most days now. Going to bed before throwing a post together the next day would be blasphemy.

Suffice it to say, I care about this, even though it’s kind of silly. I’m so close. I won’t let this fail.

Hey, here’s some analysis: I’m acting a lot like Frodo and Sam right now. That can’t be a coincidence.

No one dies today.

“He went without himself; and now as once…”

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