Tolkien Read-Along | The Stairs of Cirith Ungol

‘Careful!’ Gollum whispered. ‘Steps. Lots of steps. Must be careful!’

Care was certainly needed. Frodo and Sam at first felt easier, having now a wall on either side, but the stairway was almost as steep as a ladder, and as they climbed up and up, they became more and more aware of the long black fall behind them. And the steps were narrow, spaced unevenly, and often treacherous: they were worn and smooth at the edges, and some were broken, and some cracked as foot was set upon them. The hobbits struggled on, until at last they were clinging with desperate fingers to the steps ahead, and forcing their aching knees to bend and straighten; and ever as the stair cut its way deeper into the sheer mountain the rocky walls rose higher and higher above their heads.

Tolkien Read-Along | Sméagol and Déagol

“Give us that, Déagol, my love,” said Sméagol, over his friend’s shoulder.

“Why?” said Déagol.

“Because it’s my birthday, my love, and I wants it,” said Sméagol.

“I don’t care,” said Déagol. “I have given you a present already, more than I could afford. I found this, and I’m going to keep it.”

“Oh, are you indeed, my love,” said Sméagol; and he caught Déagol by the throat and strangled him, because the gold looked so bright and beautiful. Then he put the ring on his finger.

‘Gulls! They are flying far inland. A wonder they are to me and a trouble to my heart. Never in all my life had I met them, until we came to Pelargir, and there I heard them crying in the air as we rode to the battle of the ships. Then I stood still, forgetting war in Middle-earth; for their wailing voices spoke to me of the Sea. The Sea! Alas! I have not yet beheld it. But deep in the hearts of all my kindred lies the sea-longing, which it is perilous to stir. Alas! for the gulls.


‘Dark have been my dreams of late,’ Theoden said, 'but I feel as one new-awakened. I would now that you had come before, Gandalf. For I fear that already you have come too late, only to see the last days of my house. Not long now shall stand the high hall which Brego son of Eorl built. Fire shall devour the high seat. What is to be done?' 

Tolkien Read-Along - Prologue - My thoughts

Thoughts on first re-read through:

It’s been quite a long time since I read the prologue, as I usually skipped it when rereading the story. I can’t believe how it really just gives away the fates of half of the main characters in the story XD I guess the first time I read it, the names just piled up and I couldn’t keep track, because I was “on my toes” the whole time I was reading the trilogy, afraid of who might die next.

The refresher on Hobbit history was nice. I had forgotten about the Fallohides, Harfoots, and Stoors part. I also appreciated Tolkien taking an in-depth look at Hobbit demographics when he mentions that only the poorest and richest still lived in actual holes. 

And all this talk of Longbottom leaf and whatnot just makes me think of the ubiquitous stoner references to it now. It seems that looking up any random Tolkien phrase will yield results about marijuana. (Seriously, Google “Fatty Lumpkin!”) It makes it hard to enjoy the innocent past time of pipe smoking that Tolkien is discussing here with such affection. 

Looking back over my notes here I also wanted to comment on:

The Hobbits named it the Shire, as the region of the authority of their Thain, and a district of well-ordered business; and there in that pleasant corner of the world they plied their well-ordered business of living, and they heeded less and less the world outside where dark things moved, until they came to think that peace and plenty were the rule in Middle-earth and the right of all sensible folk.

I love how he just says it like it is. Everyone deserves to be full and peaceful. Something that a significant portion of the United States will disagree with because they’re disgusting and hateful. I wish Tolkien had lived to see Pope Francis take the “throne,” he would have loved to hear his own peaceful messages echoed by a brilliant man chosen by his religion to rule.

Hobbits delighted in such things, if they were accurate: they liked to have books filled with things that they already knew, set out fair and square with no contradictions.

I have to say I’m guilty of this too, I can’t say no to a well-organized informational book. It’s why I have way more reference materials rather than narrative books in my house.

Tolkien Read-Along | The Window on the West

‘For myself,’ said Faramir, ‘I would see the White Tree in flower again in the courts of the kings, and the Silver Crown return, and Minas Tirith in peace: Minas Anor again as of old, full of light, high and fair, beautiful as a queen among other queens: not a mistress of many slaves, nay, not even a kind mistress of willing slaves. War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all’.


    ‘I am not a counsellor. You may learn something, and whether what you see be fair or evil, that may be profitable, and yet it may not. Seeing is both good and perilous. Yet I think, Frodo, that you have courage and wisdom enough for the venture, or I would not have brought you here. Do as you will! ’

     'I will look,’ said Frodo, and he climbed on the pedestal and bent over the dark water.