The Tolkien Road – Ep. 36 – The Lord of the Rings – Bk1Ch11 – A Knife in the Dark

Concerning “A Knife in the Dark,” Book 1, Chapter 11 of The Lord of the Rings, wherein the hobbits Strider set out on the long road to Rivendell…

Hey there fellow travelers! Welcome to The Tolkien Road, a long walk through the works and philosophy of J.R.R. Tolkien.  On this episode, we continue our discussion of The Lord of the Rings with Book 1, Chapter 11 of Fellowship, A Knife in the Dark, wherein the hobbits depart Bree with Strider, rmake their way to Weathertop, and get attacked by the Black Riders. We also discuss Strider’s telling of the tale of Tinúviel as well as the legendary Gil-galad.  By the way, if you haven’t already, please leave The Tolkien Road a rating and feedback on iTunes. We’d love to know what you think of the podcast. Enjoy the show!

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Topics of discussion include:

  • Tolkien Haiku for Book 1, Chapter 11 of LOTR (6:20)
  • Departing Bree (20:00)
  • The Journey to Weathertop (23:30)
  • Gilgalad (37:10)
  • How the Black Riders sense things (42:30)
  • The Tale of Tinúviel (46:00)
  • The Attack of the Black Riders (55:30)
  • Favorite passages (1:05:30)

And much more!

By the way, to see the Tolkien haiku(s) that didn’t make it onto the podcast, scroll down.

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Here’s a bonus haiku from me:

Leaving Bree; headed
Into a wilderness. The
Road leads to Mordor.
And here’s Mary Grace’s longer poem that we shared on the podcast:
Listen, young folk, and you shall hear
Of four Hobbits, a Ring, and Ilsildur’s Heir
In the Third Age, in which Sauron rose to power again
There are some in Middle-Earth who are able to say
They can recall that dangerous event and year
 
Ringwraiths rode down the gate
Into Bree where they came
Passed silently into tavern where Hobbits had stayed
They stabbed the Hobbits, with their blades, in their beds
But a trick, this time by Strider, had been laid again.
 
Strider had Hobbits hidden,
Safely hidden in his room
It was a dark night with no stars and no moon
They all fled the next day, with only one baggage pony
And fleeing Riders had found those “dead Hobbits” were phony
 
The travelers left by the Road
But cut to the woods
“A shortcut” said Strider, “It’s for your own good.”
As the hills drew near, they camped down by the night,
And Sam sang of Gil-Galad under faint starlight
 
They came upon Weathertop
And fire did light
Which the Ringwraiths’ horses perceived in the night
They came to the hill and let loose their attack
A knife through the Ring-Bearer, in the night so black
 
Strider defended them bravely
Flaming branches in hand
That sent the Black Riders scattered out through the land
And as Frodo had fallen, crying, “Githoniel! Elbereth!”
And had struck at the enemy, before consciousness he left
 
The end of this tale
Is grim, that I know
But it shows to be brave one must have stout soul
And until the next time, when I write once again
May we remain safe, until the day ends.
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Sorry for the absence! We will be back soon!

Why hello there faithful readers (and unfaithful readers – YOU KNOW WHO YOU ARE)…

The last few weeks have been pretty dang busy around the Carswell estate, and therefore plans to keep up with True Myths posts and Tolkien Road podcasts have not really come to fruition. I hope to be back before the month is out with continuations of my blog series(es) on Tolkien’s Faith and Silmarillion Films.

And there should be a new episode of The Tolkien Road for Fellowship Book 1 Chapter 11 by Monday of next week (fingers crossed). And BTW, we will be recording Chapter 11 and Chapter 12 simultaneously, so if you would like to contribute haiku, please do so soon!

So much more planned – just have to set the cruise control on some other things first. Thanks for your patience.

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In the meantime, here’s a great article on Tolkien’s faith through the eyes of Stephen “The Guy Who Replaced David Letterman” Colbert. Also, here’s a few of my old writings on Tolkien’s faith to tide you over until my next article:

The Road goeth ever on my friends!!!

Concerning Melkor, Fëanor, and Ungoliant

From Tolkien’s Requiem:

Melkor

Melkor wants to possess the jewels in such a way that prevents others from possessing them. This is Melkor’s chief flaw from before the foundations of Arda: for him, love means possession and domination, the need to hoard and to guard a treasure as one’s own. In fact, in “Ainulindalë”, we learn that Melkor seeks to increase his own power and glory when he is already the most powerful and glorious of created beings. It seems that his own greatness leaves him jealous of the potential of others, with a need to see others always as a threat to his own glory. Thus, he must possess the Silmarils lest someone else do the same instead of him.

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Fëanor

In truth, however, Melkor is not the only one to have such a possessive reaction to the Silmarils. Of Fëanor, Tolkien says that he “began to love the Silmarils with a greedy love, and grudged the sight of them to all save to his father and his seven sons; he seldom remembered now that the light within them was not his own” (69). Thus Fëanor is slowly corrupted by an illicit desire of possession. The light of the Silmarils, taken as it is from the Two Trees, is a light belonging to no individual or group of individuals but common to all. It is quite literally a light that fills the world. When Fëanor creates the Silmarils, he captures and contains something previously free to all. Though Melkor is the first to explicitly desire the Silmarils for his own, Fëanor and others soon follow suit. Thus, Fëanor’s love for the light of the Two Trees poisons the light by containing it, by making it scarce, when all along it is something that should not be contained. His desire and action to possess the blessed light sets into the hearts of the story’s free agents the will to possess it singularly and selfishly.

Ungoliant

Ungoliant is an enigma and no easy read. Whereas from the beginning of the mythology Melkor is a vainglorious figure obsessed with domination, Ungoliant, on the other hand, is a mysterious figure of unknown origin, once corrupted to darkness by the seductions of Melkor, but having since repudiated his service for her independence. Yet despite her independence from Melkor, she hates the peoples of Valinor all the same. As Tolkien puts it, she is a figure “desiring to be mistress of her own lust, taking all things to herself to feed her emptiness” (73). Still, Melkor knows her deepest need, a desire to be filled by all things. He finds her in the dark caves to the south of Valinor, desperately hungry for the light of the Two Trees but hating it all the same, fearful of it and of the Valar who tend it (73). When he promises her fullness of the Light, she sets forth to do his bidding. Melkor wounds the trees, “and their sap poured forth as it were their blood, and was spilled upon the ground,” presenting Ungoliant with her feast (76). She sucks up every last drop of the Trees’ light-blood, bloating to a prodigious size, yet famished evermore. Ungoliant’s love is turned inward, seeking always fullness, but unable to find it. Acting alone, she is a poison to herself only; under the influence of another, she is a poison to many.


Click here to get Tolkien’s Requiem – Concerning Beren and Lúthien.