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NF-Lee's Gildor and Frodo

Announcement to M00bies reads the B00ks fans: Teremia posted!

Posted on 2006.05.06 at 20:20
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~ Frodo's meeting with Gildor, by Alan Lee

When I first got immersed in online LotR fandom, it was at TORc, TolkienOnline. I "met" nice people, and read and wrote and learned mass quantities there (like the Coneheads drinking beer). But of all the great threads I followed during my time there, the one that made the greatest impact on me was M00bies reads the B00ks, a read-along thread started in the LotR Film Forum. It was opened by Teremia, a wonderful Tolkien thinker and writer, who initiated and continued the tradition of introducing every chapter with a beautifully-written and observed post.

I didn't find this thread until the Fellowship had got to LothLorien, but, so impressed was I, I went back and read it from the beginning.

There are some dull spots here and there, when we commenters haven't matched the excellence of the chapter intros, but, on the whole, this thread was the best I ever came across. It taught me TONS about Tolkien, LotR, its characters and themes, the discipline of writing, aesthetics, and you name it. Besides which, the level of hospitality and courtesy was phenomenal.

Nothing (apart from the films that rejuvenated my zeal for the book and its author) -- not any published book or any fanfic -- has more greatly enhanced my appreciation of Tolkien's work.


The news is that after a hiatus of over a year, Teremia has posted a new chapter introduction. She last posted [brilliantly] a chapter intro for "The Tower of Cirith Ungol", on April 25 last year. Today, May 6, she has posted an introduction for the next chapter, "The Land of the Shadow."

Here is a link to the page with her latest post, dated 06 May, M00bies Reads the Books, p. 27. Scroll down the page to Teremia's post.

If you enjoy that and want to read other great intros, here's a link to the first page of M00bies reads the B00ks. Teremia's first intro. is for the "Prologue", on Jan. 17, 2003. Her intros become longer and more detailed as the thread progresses. The thread is very neatly organized and easy to browse, with an intro. for every chapter, in book sequence.

Or, to give you an idea of the quality of the posting on this thread (and the responses to the intros are often excellent, too), here is a copy-and-paste of Teremia's latest installment, on "The Land of the Shadow" from RotK....

~ 'The Land of the Shadows', by Anke Eissman

”The Land of Shadow”

Throughout this chapter, a question of scale and point-of-view: we go from the grand scale of the hobbits’ triumph over the Watchers at the end of the previous chapter (chanting in Elvish! Walls crumbling as they pass by!), to the small, human, hobbity scale of small people running from evil into a barren and inhospitable place. At the end of the first little section, Sam says they can’t get off the road they’re on, “not without wings.” That is the scale we now operate in for a while, the scale of mortal creatures, “without wings”; it’s also an echo of the last thing we saw in the previous chapter: “Out of the black sky there came dropping like a bolt a winged shape, rending the clouds with a ghastly shriek.”

So we see how humble the hobbits are, in comparison with the grand winged foe! But like the surprising trickle of water coming down the rocky ledges of Mordor, there are whispers and rumors throughout this chapter suggesting that this vision of “scale” is not the final one, that in the final analysis it will not all be about who has wings and who doesn’t.

After the Elvish of the previous chapter, the very language of Sam and Frodo seems homely and hobbit-like (see Sam on the topic of thorns: “Bless me, Mr. Frodo, but I didn’t know as anything grew in Mordor! But if I had a’known, this is just what I’d have looked for. These thorns must be a foot long by the feel of them…”). But these small-scale concerns (thorns, thirst, fatigue) become signs that the hobbits haven’t given up yet, that little things can still matter: the very basic component of hope, even in this rather hopeless place. Sam falls asleep because he’s tired, which Frodo notices with “amazement”; but the word might as well have been “wonder.” It is a miracle on the small scale that Sam keeps marking the basic rhythms of life. Again, the miraculous nature of these things is something Sam himself remarks on: “If only the Lady could see us or hear us, I’d say to her: ‘Your Ladyship, all we want is light and water: just clean water and plain daylight, better than any jewels, begging your pardon.’” And when light (even a slightly bleary sort of light) and water (even a rather oily sort of water) appear, the hobbits are truly thankful (as I’m sure we should all be more often! Smile)

The question of scale stretches with the coming of the light: “dim light leaked into Mordor like pale morning through the grimed window of a prison.” Not just light but messages pass through prison windows sometimes, and Sam reads the light as a message: “’Look at it, Mr. Frodo!’ said Sam. ‘Look at it! The wind’s changed. Something’s happening. He’s not having it all his own way. His darkness is breaking up out in the world there. I wish I could see what is going on!’” Here the narrator chimes in to remind us of what is happening in the outside world: “It was the morning of the fifteenth of March, and over the vale of Anduin the Sun was rising above the eastern shadow, and the southwest wind was blowing. Théoden lay dying on the Pelennor Fields.”

Now these lines work as a kind of shock on the reader, a taking-in of breath: Théoden! Éowyn! Merry! It comes back to us. And reading it this time, I had to stop and wonder what it would be like if the only messages we could have about the well-being of our most beloved friends could only be had, as Sam takes the message here, by looking up and trying to gauge the general course of the world. It’s like looking for a memory of the butterfly’s wings in the storm that arises out of them far later and far away!

When they find water, and walk on, and then finally sleep, Tolkien gives us one of the images that stays with a person long and deep, that brings us back to the book again, eventually, no matter how far away we may have wandered.

“Far above the Ephel Dúath in the West the night-sky was still dim and pale. There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty for ever beyond its reach. His song in the Tower had been defiance rather than hope; for then he was thinking of himself. Now, for a moment, his own fate, and even his master’s, ceased to trouble him…..”

Here is a moment when Sam – representative of the smallest of scales, the mercies of the everyday – gets a glimpse not just of how things are going “out in the world there” (as when the light suggests to him the course of the battle), but the higher perspective of the stars, beyond this world. The name of the chapter is “The Land of Shadow,” but of course shadow suggests the presence of light somewhere, light that is being temporarily blocked.

“They woke together, hand in hand.” That is the human equivalent of the sweetness of starlight.

When Sam and Frodo look out over the valley, at the vast military camps there, the narrator pauses to hint to us that the world is larger than we have yet suspected: “Neither he nor Frodo [nor the reader!] knew anything of the great slave-worked fields away south in this wide realm, beyond the fumes of the Mountain by the dark sad waters of Lake Núrnen….” (I almost typed “Lake Lachrymose” there, so sure am I that Lemony Snicket’s Lord of the Rings would take place all entirely There and skip over Rohan, Lothlorien, and Gondor.) I’m sure I’m not the only one who used to study the map of Middle-Earth and wish to know more about all the obscurest places!

Frodo and Sam overhear one of those informative orc conversations that ends with the orcs (who are supposed to be tracking our heroes) coming to blows. I’ve always liked listening to those orcs. Their lives are clearly not pleasant ones. We never see what an orc would look like, “redeemed,” but they are so human in their bickering that some tiny part of me begins to wonder about their stories. I also (however) like Sam’s comment once one of them has put an arrow in the eye of the other and run off: “If this nice friendliness would spread about in Mordor, half our trouble would be over.”

They plod and plod for the rest of the chapter, and another shadow – Gollum – scurries around them, too. The plodding is very dear to my heart, and in the movies I missed the sense of vast and grueling effort, grueling, thirsty effort, this part of the book so well describes. The nightmare of being caught by the marching orcs and being made to march with them, mile after mile; all through those pages our worry is that of Sam: what happens if Frodo collapses? He can’t handle this, can he? And then Sam sees the moment to roll with Frodo off the road and away again. Frodo crawls his twenty yards, and “then he pitched down into a shallow pit that opened unexpectedly before them, and there he lay like a dead thing.”

They have been making do on very little. But there has BEEN that “little,” those trickles of potable water, those small moments of luck and good fortune, those thin brown bushes to hide behind so that the arguing orcs don’t spy you. The land of shadow is a good place to count your blessings, and to be reminded of what really counts as a blessing. As Sam says when he spies the “little falling streamlet”: “If ever I see the Lady again, I will tell her! Light and now water!” It is a something of a cosmic antidote for Shelob’s pestilent femininity to have these moments of grace marked as the Lady’s (the star, too, reminds us of her). Light and now water! A good toast, and I lift my glass with it to all of you who made this thread such a wonderful thing, all those many ages ago!

As I told Teremia in the thread, I could spread this on bread or lap it out of my hands. I've been hungering and thirsting for this sort of thing.

~ Mechtild


grapeofdeath at 2006-05-07 04:42 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you for pointing us towards this! I just saved all 27 pages to read later. :)

You know, I don't think I've ever see the pic 'The Land of the Shadows', by Anke Eissman. Thank you for posting it!
mechtild at 2006-05-07 05:12 (UTC) (Link)
You are most welcome, Grape of Death.

And I am glad to have posted the illustration. Would you like a link to Anke Eissman's gallery? If so, here's the page for her Tolkien work.


She has a unique style, not particularly tied to the films, and has done very many illustrations, not just of hobbits, and not just of LotR. She has illustrated some of the Hobbit, and stories from the Silmarillion.
grapeofdeath at 2006-05-07 05:15 (UTC) (Link)
I've been to her gallery before, and I have her friended on DA so I can see her newest work, but some how I missed that picture...
mechtild at 2006-05-07 13:47 (UTC) (Link)
I hadn't seen most of her work, actually, and none of it full size until a few months ago. Folks at TORc often featured her work as sig pics, but they were too small to really appreciate. I did not find them interesting. Lots of Faramirs with pointy noses. So I never bothered to look at any of her things in a real gallery setting (i.e. large-sized).

Silly me! She's awfully good. Her figures are good, but most of all I love the mood she creates with line and colour, and I love her rendering of natural settings. She uses the subtle palette of an Alan Lee, but the more dramatic line of a John Howe.

Alan Lee is still my fave, though. His work just says "Middle-earth" to me.
mariole at 2006-05-07 14:34 (UTC) (Link)
Thank you, Mech! I will browse through this. I love the horsie pic on the first page, so I know I will enjoy these. I adore the dark pic above; how very tragic. Lovely.
mechtild at 2006-05-07 14:54 (UTC) (Link)
Well, I'm darned glad I posted that link after all! Check out her "Sil" stuff.
mariole at 2006-05-07 15:10 (UTC) (Link)
Silmarillion doesn't float my boat. Give me Elves and Men! :)

But I will look at the artwork.
mechtild at 2006-05-07 15:28 (UTC) (Link)
Ah, but the illustrations might do, then. Lots of Elves and Men in the Silmarillion. In fact, there are only no hobbits.
mariole at 2006-05-08 15:06 (UTC) (Link)
I was clearly tired when I wrote this. I meant "hobbits and Men." I don't like the Elf wars in the Sil. It reminds me too much of those preteens (the gods) bickering on Mt. O, which alternately bored and astounded me. How could anyone _worship_ anyone so flawed and unworthy? I like the sadder, calmer Elves of LOTR-- sorry, JRR!
mechtild at 2006-05-08 16:09 (UTC) (Link)
Ah, you enlighten me. But you call that Elf in your icon sad and calm? My brother, after seeing the films (not having read the book) called him, "that blond killing machine."

Just teasing. Book Legolas was full of wistful sadness. Although Orlando managed to inject that sense, here and there, very well, in spite of the skateboarding down the steps, etc.

I suppose the stories I am thinking of in the Sil (and stories from the Second Age in Unfinished Tales) actually do "star" Men, but the Elves are important featured players: dark and complex, with hearts that can be as flinty and greedy and murky as any human's. Yet some are very compassionate -- and passionate -- just like their human counterparts. What neither sorts of Elves are like is the chilly, removed sort that the generic Elves seemed to be in the films.
mariole at 2006-05-08 16:22 (UTC) (Link)
Agreed. Now that I've seen LOTR the Musical, I prefer the Elves as portrayed in that production. They have this sense of enlightened other-worldliness that blends seemlessly with Nature; I really enjoyed that. I liked Legolas in the movie best when he had this trait, but the movie people pretty much (IMVHO) turned him into some kind of comic book character in TTT, "the blond killing machine," that I felt really was not at all true to the spirit of the book. It was juvenile adventure served up Hollywood style. Tolkien, who'd been in battle, would never celebrate the "heroics" of war; he knew better. One of the reasons I love ROTK so intensely is because of the mood he captures of warfare; despair, desperation, people doing their best against impossible odds. Fun as it was to watch Leggie take down an oliphaunt, in the "real" Middle-earth, it never happened. I like that true spirit better, unsurprisingly.
aussiepeach at 2006-05-07 11:37 (UTC) (Link)
A lovely post. I've not seen that Anke pic before. Poor darling Frodo.
mechtild at 2006-05-07 13:44 (UTC) (Link)
Peachy! Greetings and good morning (I'm just up, have got my coffee, and am opening the mail).

A lovely post. I've not seen that Anke pic before. Poor darling Frodo.

I hadn't seen any of them, except small, until this year.

I thought Teremia was one of the best writers at TORc -- and there were many superb posters there. I wondered if she were a teacher (and a good one) in real life, for she had a style that opened up the film or the text to others. She didn't just stand on a box and say, HERE'S WHAT I THINK. Athrabeth her peer in excellence, writing quality and insight, wrote many replies in this thread. I have saved many individual posts, I ended up saving the whole thread last month, "just in case."
aredhelebenesse at 2006-05-07 16:08 (UTC) (Link)
That's really wonderful! I love this sort of thinking about Tolkien and his work.
Actually I entered a group of rather geeky Tolkien fans and thinkers in 2003. We spent whole nights talking about Middle Earth, the Ring Quest, "the what had been when ..." and so on. It's one of my very favourite subjects ever. These people became my very best friends even in RL. We met each other several times, we celebrate parties in the woods together and talk, talk, talk about Tolkiens work to feed our escapism. ;) There are some people who made the Professor really to their purpose in life, because they have to do with his work in their professions, wrote books about it and so on.
It's wonderful to see there are others who think the same way as oneself and to know, they are WAY stronger infected with the Tolkien virus.
mechtild at 2006-05-07 16:25 (UTC) (Link)
You had these sorts of conversations in real life? Oh, you were fortunate! There is no one in my real life who really cares about this in depth. Some liked the films, or remember liking The Hobbit in their youths, but only on line did I discover other "hard core" fans.
aredhelebenesse at 2006-05-08 10:59 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, I know I'm quite a lucky one!
We met each other also in the Internet. We were a Tolkien fan group and than we decided to meet in RL. We are around 10 or 15 persons from whole Germany. Without the Internet we'd never knew there were other people like us and I think each one of us had thought they are rather insane to believe in things like Middle Earth or the power of Eru and the Valar. LOL. It's so good to know you're not alone! :)
mechtild at 2006-05-08 13:14 (UTC) (Link)
That's really wonderful for you. Some of the fans from northern European countries on the Frodo thread that was burning up the messageboards of Imladris, Council of Elrond, and Khazad-dum (where I learned of all this in the thread called, "Frodo's Harem"), used to get together, too. They had "hoots" (like "moots" but with an "h" for Harem). They still get together, some of them, as they formed real-life friendships during all the internet posting and the actual "hoots". It sounds a bit like your experience.
pearlette at 2006-05-08 16:16 (UTC) (Link)
We certainly do! :)
aredhelebenesse at 2006-05-08 21:44 (UTC) (Link)
Yes, you are right, it sounds a bit like our funny heap!
The people have changed a bit over the years. One or another is gone for lack of time or any other reason, but the hard core still sticks together.
I can in each case say LotR changed my life. And it changed it not just once but several times in another way. It's a gift!
mechtild at 2006-05-08 22:08 (UTC) (Link)
It's a gift!

It certainly is that: from Tolkien, and from whatever the reader/fan calls it: destiny/fate/god/serendipity.
aredhelebenesse at 2006-05-10 10:08 (UTC) (Link)
and from whatever the reader/fan calls it: destiny/fate/god/serendipity.

Eru Iluvatar and the Valar! ;D
mechtild at 2006-05-10 12:54 (UTC) (Link)
Oh -- right! It's right there in the text!
pearlette at 2006-05-07 19:28 (UTC) (Link)
Mechtild, Alan Lee is one of my very favourite Tolkien artists. I adore his landscapes of Middle-earth to high heaven: they're just like the images I had in my head when I read the books. He was the first artist I came across who I felt did the Professor's great tale justice. *swoon*

I love that painting of Gildor and the hobbits.

Anke Eissmann is a wonderfully gifted watercolour painter and I really love her interpretations. I met her at Oxonmoot in 2001. She posted as Khorazir at TORC and B77. I love that 'Land of Shadows' painting: Frodo is pretty much perfect, the much older-looking hobbit I imagined before the advent of Frolijah, not that I regret Frolijah's advent *grin* Sam is not very Sam-like though (although he has a wonderful face). Perhaps because he's so thin and starved, poor darling. :( But it is a powerful, deeply-felt painting.

Nice conversation about Tolkien art going on here at the Hall of Fire, started by yours truly, with some links to more lovely Tolkien artwork:


I think Teremia IS a teacher, Mech. I met her in April 2005 when she was over in London for a wee while - she was doing some kind of film study course.

That M00bies reads the books thread is a classic. Athrabeth and Teremia are two of the most eloquent posters in the entire fandom.
mechtild at 2006-05-07 20:20 (UTC) (Link)
You met Anke Eissmann? Wow! I have been encouraging Whiteling to go to something Eissman might be appearing at in Germany, so that she could tell me what she's like ("Meet the Artist," hosted by Whiteling). And here you are, having met her all the time. Is she nice? Is she tasty?

The Sam face in that painting worked well for me. Maybe because it's a face that could be portrayed by a young, pulled-taught-by-ordeals William Nighy, for whose Sam I swoon.

And Teremia is a teacher? Really? Well she sure has the charisms and the sensibilities for it.

That M00bies reads the books thread is a classic. Athrabeth and Teremia are two of the most eloquent posters in the entire fandom.

pearlette at 2006-05-07 20:59 (UTC) (Link)
And so are YOU, my dear Mechtild. One of the most eloquent, I mean. :)

As are not a few people on my f-list!

Anke is extremely nice. :) Quite quiet and laidback, from what I remember.

Yes, that Sam face is quite remarkable. Makes me look at Sam in quite a different light, makes me reflect more on his suffering in Mordor. I often reflect on Frodo's suffering, of course. Frodo is retreating from Sam into the Ring: he needs Sam there, it's Sam who keeps him going, who keeps them both going. But Frodo is going 'numb', so to speak, as the Ring starts to claim him. :(

Sam is so often seen as a 'yes sir no sir three bags full sir' simpleton, and it annoys me. Tolien writes him much better than that.

Nighy's Sam is the best. *bows deeply*
mechtild at 2006-05-07 21:35 (UTC) (Link)
[what the -- ? But never fear, I saved that, first]

Stop, Miss "Light of Eardendil" nominee herself.

IT's nice to hear when artists are nice and not difficult to approach.

Oh, what you said about Sam. That's so true. This picture, and Teremia's post remind me of what a job was cut out for Sam. And his fears that he wouldn't be up to it, yet, plucky man that he is, he just wiped the tears away, pushed it all aside and carried on. What heros these two were, and so close to us, almost in our skins, helping us to see ourselves in them - or what we could be.

Yes, Nighy's Sam is the best. I might have to go listen to the production again, having read Teremia's post. I want him to lead me through the wasteland when I can no longer see and lay down beside me in a cold, hard hollow to still my shivers. I want to hear his voice on the edges of my fitfull sleep speaking of stars and hope when I no longer can even imagine such things.

Oh, I'm working myself into a funk.

*pinches blood back into plump cheeks that lay on soft pillows*
pearlette at 2006-05-07 22:00 (UTC) (Link)
Poor dear hobbits.

There is nobody to comfort Sam when he thinks Frodo is dead in Cirith Ungol.

Nobody to comfort Frodo as he lies alone and so afraid in the tower.

Until he hears Sam's song.

Nobody to comfort Sam, as he tries to comfort Frodo with his arms and his body and cheerful words in Mordor.

And yet he goes on. Dogged, faithful, resolute ... determined to go with his master to the bitter end and die with him.

And after the Ring goes into the fire, at last they comfort each other. I love how the film shows Frodo comforting Sam so strongly. At that point I just about forgave PJ for every sin he committed against Frodo's character!

Yes, Tolkien's characters show us what we could be. The virtue in his books just about knocks me out.
mechtild at 2006-05-07 22:43 (UTC) (Link)
And after the Ring goes into the fire, at last they comfort each other. I love how the film shows Frodo comforting Sam so strongly. At that point I just about forgave PJ for every sin he committed against Frodo's character!

Well, you know how I luuuuurve that scene.

I love it when Frodo hears Sam singing in the tower, then Frodo starts to sing in answer. It's just drenched in Tolkien's attitude about the power of music and song and words sung. Reminds me of Luthien singing so that Beren could hear hear when he was in prison, too.
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