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This page moves by fast. Frodo and Sam are looking at the Red Book, full of Bilbo’s and Frodo’s stories. Its title page is a mess of scratched out ideas.

Because sometimes you change the title.

Because sometimes you change the title.

Frodo’s story is unfinished, and a few pages are left blank at the end. Frodo will give the book to Sam, and now it’s Sam’s turn to write.

Frodo and Sam set out from Bag End on September 21st (the day before the big birthday day). They ride out through the Shire, seeing parts of it that they saw at the very beginning of their great journey.

First Mentions:

-Strider: Frodo’s pony, the very one that bore him all the way home from Minas Tirith. It’s no secret who he’s named after.

-the Stock Road: A road through the Shire, undoubtedly to Stock.

And, I mean, about half this page is taken up with the numerous titles, subtitles, and parenthetical additions to the titles of the Red Book. It was quite the tale, and the story’s changed since Bilbo first put it down. I think some of his edits are in there, but also those that Frodo changed or added once his story became a part of the whole. Once again, I’ll bring up that this is technically the framing device of the whole book. If you want to think of it this way, we’re reading the Red Book right now.

Or, don’t think of it that way. Sometimes it feels more like an adaptation of the Red Book. It has been mentioned that many editions are made throughout the following years and years, so it’s possible that someone eventually fleshed out this great tale from the ramblings of the two hobbits.

Well, Tolkien did that, I guess. META.

Sly dog.

Sly dog.

Finally, I want to touch on one sad note. According to the Internet (well, according to…life), the horse who played Shadowfax in the films, Blanco, has died. He fell ill some time ago, and the decision was made today to put him out of his suffering. While unfortunate, I’m sure many horses couldn’t have ever dreamed (if horses do that) of being such a beautifully prominent character on screen. And I’m sure that he lived as good a life as a horse can.

But in our story…

No one dies today.

“‘It seems like a dream now.'”

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Jumping ahead doesn’t do this page service.

We’re rocketing ahead, learning all about how the hobbits rebuilt the Shire. When organized, they do a pretty good job.

No word yet on hobbit construction unions.

No word yet on hobbit construction unions.

By Christmastime (or Yule, as they call it), all the “new” buildings put up by the ruffians are torn down. Those bricks are put into new use in rebuilding and strengthening structures that were taken down or harmed by the ruffians. At least they can do some good! An entirely new Bagshot Row is built, allowing the Gaffer to live once again at the foot of Bag End.

The greatest loss is in plant life, specifically trees. This hurts Sam greatly. For a while, he can’t think of a way that the Shire will ever be regrown anytime soon. Then, he thinks of the gift given to him by Galadriel: soil of her land, to be used to grow great gardens wherever the land is barren.

Hey! The Shire is barren! What better use could there be for this soil? How appropriate! It’s almost as if Galadriel could see the future

Yeah, she can see the future. That’s what that whole mirror thing’s about. No doubt she saw this coming, and knew that this soil was exactly what Sam would need to make his garden grow. Remember, the scouring of the Shire is even briefly seen through the Mirror of Galadriel in the film. That’s its one onscreen reference. Galadriel easily could have seen it herself.

Make your garden grow, Sam.

Make your garden grow, Sam.

It’s no surprise that Sam is in charge of the rebuilding efforts. With Frodo off doing administrative duties and Merry and Pippin hunting down ruffians, Sam’s the one with the technical ability, heart, and nostalgia to take on putting the Shire back the way it was. He’s like Captain Planet for Middle-earth.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-levelled

Captain Samwise, he’s the hero! Gonna build the Shire back from zero!

No one dies today.

“‘On what?’ said Sam.”

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For a brief moment, I entertained the idea of starting today’s post off with some admission that I’m actually Mark Zuckerberg or something, and this has all been an elaborate social media experiment. April Fool’s! But no, I decided not to do that.

BUT WHAT IF I REALLY AM MARK ZUCKERBERG…OR WORSE?

Please, be my friend.

Please, be my friend.

I’m not. Let’s talk about Lord of the Rings.

The four hobbits arrive at Bag End, but not before Ted Sandyman accosts them with mockery. The profiteer off the new mill laughs at them, calling Sam soft, and hiding behind his friendship with “the Boss”. He cowers when the full escort of hobbits march up behind Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin, and that’s that. They approach Bag End, its yard filled with rubbish and hastily built huts.

One more thing: Sam notices that they cut down Bilbo’s party tree.

Gasp! The party tree! I have a special place in my heart for this tree, because one of my roommates, on a trip to New Zealand in college, collected a pinecone from the enormous tree that the scene in the movie was filmed under. We had it in our apartment for quite some time. It was awesome.

You know the tree.

You know the tree.

Meanwhile, Ted Sandyman fills in as one of our early antagonists who continues to suck. He’s benefited greatly from the changes in the Shire, and that’s not necessarily a good thing. Thankfully, he’s just as cowardly as all the ruffians (well, Bill Ferny, at least), and backs down at the first sign of trouble. Too easy.

No one dies today.

“The place stank and was full of filth and disorder: it did not appear to have been used for some time.”

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I hope you like bravado. We have plenty.

And footpads. We have those, too.

And footpads. We have those, too.

That is to say that the leader of this group of men has stopped Frodo, Sam, Merry, and Pippin on the road, and seems intent on lecturing them about what the Shire needs. It needs guidance, he seems to think, and he and his pals are going to provide it. Their boss, the mysterious Sharkey, has control over Lotho Sackville-Baggins, but he can remove him as “Chief” at any time if he wishes. Frodo reminds this man that his boss (we all know it’s Saruman) has no power anymore. He was thrown down. A new king reigns, and his people will reclaim the land scoured by these ruffians. The man laughs at that.

This makes Pippin mad. As a sworn man of Gondor, he stands up for Aragorn. Swords are drawn.

I want to jump back a bit and cover something that I meant to do earlier. Sharkey is not some random name meant to refer to sea creatures. Very little is made in Middle-earth of sea creatures, so that hardly makes sense as a reasoning. In fact, Sharkey is a bastardization of “sharkû”, meaning “old man” in the orc tongue. Saruman is indeed an old man, and I would expect that these men (part-orc/goblin or not) are using that term in a more colloquial sense. Thus, Sharkey.

However, he's less friendly than Jabberjaw.

However, he’s less friendly than Jabberjaw.

BUT, for those of you who may have super-fanned the films, you may recognize this word. Sharku (note the dropped “û”) is the warg-riding orc who fixes to throw Aragorn of the cliff in Two Towers. This scene is not in the book. Sharku, the character, is not in the book. This is a re-appropriation of a known term into another context.

Of course, you can then make matters worse by noting that the actor who played Sharku also plays Snaga, an orc in the company transporting Merry and Pippin, and…oh, yeah, he’s also the guy who plays Nori in the new Hobbit films. Jed Brophy is Peter Jackson’s…um, BROphy.

No one dies today.

“Fearless hobbits with bright swords and grim faces were a great surprise. And there was a…”

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More to come of the conversation with Butterbur, which is really just catching us up on the goings on of the northern lands.

It would seem that Bree is safe from marauders for the time being. They must be afraid of the five companions who rode into town in armor and heraldry, and, more importantly, the rangers who have been returning north. I had forgotten about this, but I finally realized why it made sense for Aragorn to continue riding north for a while: the rangers were leaving Gondor. They traveled north with the four hobbits and numerous elves, and have now returned to the lands that they were long protecting.

And yes, the people of Bree have finally noticed that the rangers were actually doing something good for them.

Pretty much.

Pretty much.

Gandalf makes sure to tell Butterbur that times will improve. Aragorn will be sending more men north to the old kingdom of Arnor to rebuild it. He will come himself, sometime, and there will be many folk passing by Bree. Good for business!

Strangely enough, I can actually reconcile some of the changes made in the film adaptation. Bear with me here…

So, in the films, no rangers ride to meet Aragorn in Rohan. Halbarad and his Dúnedain do not feature in the events of the story. Let’s think logically from that point. If no rangers ride south, then they must all still be in the North. If they remain in the North, they continue to protect the lands around Bree and the Shire. With the rangers still about, wayward bandits cannot come unchecked into the area and terrorize its inhabitants. Thus, the events of the Scouring of the Shire cannot happen. The rangers would not allow it. That’s why it doesn’t happen.

BOOM.

Of course, some would argue that the films kill off Saruman, thus further negating any possibility of his occupation of the Shire. However, Saruman’s death only appears in a deleted scene added to the Extended Edition of Return of the King. So, it’s not necessarily a part of the films!

Okay, okay, I’m stretching here. But why not try and make sense of the cuts? I have little else left to do.

But I can't make sense of these cuts.

But I can’t make sense of these cuts.

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

-Erain

-Norbury

Both added/different names for Fornost, old capital of Arnor. Because more is better!

No one dies today.

“‘And the King will come there again one day; and then you’ll have some fair folk riding through.'”

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So, this is as full circle as it gets. It’s not a big deal on the page, which is still pretty mundane, but Bilbo sings a song in farewell to the four hobbits, and it’s a turn on what he sang at the beginning as our first song of all. More on that to come.

As the hobbits are leaving Rivendell, Bilbo goes around giving gifts to all. He gives his mithril and Sting to Frodo (though he forgets that he already did that) along with some books he wrote, Sam gets the last of Smaug’s gold that Bilbo still kept, and Merry and Pippin get some good old-fashioned advice not to get too tall.

Oops.

Oops.

They also get some pipes, because of course they do.

Bilbo also remarks that he’d like to see his ring one last time. He can’t (of course), but at least he remembers that that was the whole reason for the journey in the first place. Movie Bilbo forgets that. It seems odd. Then Bilbo sings that song that will bring us all back.

Let’s get to it.

Tolkien Songs In Real Life:

If you’ve been following along, this should look familiar.

“The Road goes ever on and on

Out from the door where it began.

Now far ahead the Road has gone,

Let others follow it who can!

Let them a journey new begin,

But I at last with weary feet

Will turn towards the lighted inn,

My evening-rest and sleep to meet.”

In probable finale, I present:

Little Hobbit Man (Reprise)

(Little Lion Man – Mumford & Sons)

When I saw this song coming, I knew immediately what to do. Honestly, I don’t know if this is the last song in the book, but it sure would be a fitting end, wouldn’t it? Bilbo sings this song as he walks out from Bag End, and now he sings it as Frodo sets out for a last time, knowing full well that he has no more journeys left in him. The subtle changes in the lyrics bear this out. “And I must follow, if I can,” becomes “Let others follow it who can,” “Pursuing it with eager feet,” becomes “Let them a journey new begin,” and so on and so forth. This is Bilbo’s farewell. He’s finally not as young anymore.

For myself, this isn’t getting me emotional, but it’s certainly feeling like a retrospective on all that I’ve done here. The most interesting fact has to be going back to listen to my first version of this song. (Do it if you want! Page 35!) Originally, I was just learning to play ukulele. In fact, this feature was partially meant to get me playing regularly to get some practice in. Well, it’s gone pretty well.

This is what I look like when I record now.

This is what I look like when I record now.

You can also hear back and see how bad my recording equipment was back in the day. I have a much better setup now, though sometimes I can’t use it when I have to record late at night. Thankfully, this got the good treatment. On a side note, though I’ve occasionally used my (still relatively new) mandolin, I’m just not very good at it. I need another project to get me working on that.

And this is becoming a long post! I’m only talking about the songs, really, so I can’t imagine how long this is going to get when I go back and look at the whole thing. Gulp. I’m almost there. And I already have so many things to say.

No one dies today.

“‘My evening-rest and sleep to meet.‘”

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Today’s page makes me laugh, but for reasons that have nothing to do with the plot.

The plot itself is, unsurprisingly, mundane. Treebeard offers the travelers a place to rest, but all decline to continue with their journeys. Legolas and Gimli plan to make their way northeast towards home through Fangorn, thus dissolving the Fellowship Company. (MORE ON THAT.) Treebeard bids his farewells, especially to Merry and Pippin. Even he notices that they’ve gotten taller.

Though not quite that dramatically so.

Though not quite that dramatically so.

So here’s the thing: as Legolas and Gimli prepare to set out on their own way, Aragorn says: “Here then at last comes the ending of the Fellowship of the Ring.” YES. HE SAYS IT. FINALLY.

If you remember way back when, I was counting the days in which the term “Fellowship of the Ring” was not said. I gave up when the book Fellowship of the Ring came to an end, because it felt silly for the term to never come up in its eponymous section. However, we finally have it, all the way on page 981. I looked back to see that I started my tally, fittingly enough, on page 281, precisely 700 pages ago. That was six days after I felt like “Fellowship of the Ring” was first warranted, so in the end, we’re looking at some 706 pages (give or take depending on some skipped pages) of wait time. That’s a long time. I’m kind of glad I stopped counting.

MEANWHILE, there’s another funny thing.

No forums involved.

No forums involved.

“The world is changing: I feel it in the water, I feel it in the earth, and I smell it in the air.” What’s that from? Oh, do you recognize it as the first lines of the Fellowship film? Yes, so it is, and spoken by Galadriel in narration before the prologue to all these events.

Guess what? That’s a horrible adaptation of this line. Here in the text, that is spoken by Treebeard, today, long after all the conflict of the story has been resolved. In this context, the world is changing for the better, not for the mysterious worse, as Galadriel’s narration implies. Whoops!

Words My Computer Didn’t Like:

vanimar

vanimálion

nostari

And then we get some random Elvish thrown in there, because why not?

No one dies today.

“And they laughed and drained their bowls.”

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