Hello, it’s Tom here, finally back with some good news!
As you could probably guess by the complete lack of updates, I’ve had a bit of a rough month. Mostly this was due to a busy semester at college, so now that I’m done with that, there should be nothing holding me back from getting us through the rest of LOTR.
As for updates going forward, we are obviously way behind ‘schedule,’ so although the updates will still be one per in-universe day, they won’t be aligned with our calendar anymore.
I will admit, though, that part of the reason I fell so far behind on updating the website is because my updates kept getting longer as the sections got more intense, and when they hit full length they were a bit daunting. To address this problem, I’ve decided to make a poll so you all can vote on where you’d like to see the project go.
- Option 1: Posts stay full length, with exciting plot recaps, tons of art, and as much trivia as I can think of. However, frequency decreases and I post 3-4 times a week instead of every day. This means that one day in-unverse will correspond to a couple days real-time.
- Options 2: Posts are daily again, so that we follow the whole gang day-by-day as before. However, the posts will be less detailed and less elaborate.
Please vote here: https://www.strawpoll.me/15477527
I am very excited to be back in action, and I hope you all are excited to finally return to Two Towers and (eventually) Return of the King!
Uh, so hello. I’m back!
Serious apologies for being out of commission for 4 huge plot days. I think instead of skipping ahead and trying to stay on schedule, it would be best if I just continued where we were at the last update. This kind of forgoes the whole “real time” thing but the updates will still be a read-along then instead of a read-some-and-skip-like-four-chapters.
So yeah, expect the next update tomorrow afternoon, continuing where we left off.
Orcs carrying MP are overrun, FS journey through the Emyn Muil
Shire Reckoning: February 28, 3019 (Solmath 28, 1420)
Pages to read:
– TT.TamingOfSmeagol (start) – “they were sheltered from the easterly wind” (~p.2)
– TT.Riders “So the third day of their pursuit” (~p.7) – “between down and fen when day returns” (~p.8)”
– TT.UrukHai “For a long time he was tossed and shaken” (~p.7) – “the Wild Wood in wonder at their first Dawn” (~p.16)
Taming of Sméagol
– Frodo and Sam labour through the barren hills of the Emyn Muil. It is now the third evening since the Breaking of the Fellowship, and despite making steady progress east, they feel discouraged.
– Sam gazes south toward Mordor and laments that the one place no one would ever want to go is their goal. Frodo just wants to get there quickly and get the whole ordeal over with. (Art by Miruna Lavinia)
– Sam complains that although he has all of his cooking gear in his pack, they have no food other than lembas, and no fuel to start a fire.
Riders of Rohan
– Nothing particularly eventful happens during the third day of AGL’s pursuit. They run all day, seeing no sign of the orcs. This leads Aragorn to fear that the orcs have already escaped into the forest.
– Earlier today, Pippin is tossed on the ground as the sun rises. The orcs give him some food, and more orc-draught. He looks around and realizes that they have reached the southern end of the Misty Mountains, and that they are getting near Fangorn Forest – a huge mysterious forest on the edge of the mountains.
– Grishnákh and Uglúk have another argument as they realize that they are being pursued by horse-riders of Rohan. All day, they run towards the forest, carrying the hobbits.
– The Riders slowly catch up, starting to pick off straggling orcs with arrows. Just as the orcs get to the edge of the forest, they find themselves surrounded.
– Stranded on a hill, the orcs make some watch-fires, and prepare for a valiant stand. MP are kept alive as per orders, but they are tightly bound. (Art by Julaxart)
– During the night, Pippin realizes that Grishnákh knows a bit about the Ring. Pippin pretends to be Gollum, and tries to manipulate Grishnákh into freeing them. He refuses to untie them, but does sneak them out of camp. However, the Riders are closing in, and as battle ensues, Grishnákh is killed and Merry and Pippin make their escape.
– Just as morning is about to come, Merry and Pippin duck into Fangorn Forest to avoid the battle. (Art by Joe Gilronan)
– Fellowship Stretches, by luminanaza. Funny pic of AGL stretching during a break in their run.
From The Tale of Years:
Éomer overtakes the Orcs just outside Fangorn Forest.
Notes: Tried to keep things very brief today, especially as I’m typing this up at the last minute late in the day. As an organizational note, I generally will choose the reading order of the chapters so that the last events of the day (MP escaping towards dawn) get read last. ~Tom
AGL begin pursuit of MP
Shire Reckoning: February 27, 3019 (Solmath 27, 1420)
Pages to read:
– TT.RidersOfRohan “Turning back they saw across the River” (~p.2) – “Let us go, said Legolas” (~p.7)
– TT.UrukHai “Neither Pippin nor Merry remembered” (~p.7) – “soon the iron grip of merciless hands was on him again” (~p.7)
Riders of Rohan:
– Standing at the edge of Rohan, Team AGL see the sun rise dramatically behind them. They find themselves standing above the East Wall of Rohan, which is a sheer cliff marking the border of the green plains of the Rohirrim. (Art by MatejCadil)
– Far to the south, they see the mountains of Gondor, and Aragorn sings a short song describing the country.
– Focusing on the the task at hand, Legolas scopes out the land beneath them with his (apparently) super-eyes. In the distance, he sees the Orcs, confirming that they are not too far ahead. AGL follow the path down the East Wall and onto the plains. While following the trail of the Orcs, they find random things like food and torn garments littering the path. (Art by Laura Tolton)
– When they get to the bottom, Legolas is invigorated by the fresh scent of the grassy plains of Rohan. Noting that the orcs have the disadvantage of being weighed down by gear and prisoners, Aragorn hopes they can catch up a bit.
– After a while, Aragorn halts the run and goes off the trail, following some small footprints. He confirms that they are Pippin’s and finds the brooch that Pippin cast aside last night. He notes that “‘Not idly do the leaves of Lórien fall,’” realizing that Pippin left it behind as a sign that MP are alive.
– This gives the team even more urgency and they run all day with only two pauses.
– As the sun sets, Legolas wants to continue all night. Gimli and Aragorn outvote him and they rest during the night. Aragorn is worried about missing the trail and Gimli is adamant that he needs his beauty sleep. (He realizes that nobody can run straight to Isengard without a break)
– Just before dawn, Aragorn rouses Gimli. Legolas is already up of course, and fears that the orcs ran all night, getting much farther ahead. Aragorn listens to the ground for any sign of the orcs, but he hears only horses, galloping far off to the West. Not too excited about their prospects now, AGL set off again at dawn.
– Pippin and Merry spend the whole day in a haze, drifting between “evil dreams and evil waking.”
– When the orc-draught wears off, Pippin collapses and has to be carried once again.
– After darkness falls, Pippin is faintly aware of another argument. He hears many of the orcs demanding a halt. He gets to lie on the ground for a bit, but before long he is the hands of orcs again as they march on.
– Today is where the idea of Elves having super-powerful eyesight comes from. Legolas first spots an eagle overhead that Aragorn can’t see, and then sees the orcs twelve leagues away across the plain. (To be fair, they are standing on a high ridge and Aragorn can see the orcs too, so it isn’t really that impressive.)
– Trio, by faQy. Great art of AGL looking hopeful.
– Song of Gondor, by Norloth. Beautiful illustration of today’s poem/song.
– Song of Gondor, by The Tolkien Ensemble. Pretty nice rendition of the song.
– Just Idling, by 7hot-feanorians. Funny picture based on Aragorn’s line “‘Not idly do the leaves of Lórien fall.'”
From The Tale of Years:
Aragorn reaches the west-cliff at sunrise. Éomer against Théoden’s orders sets out from Eastfold about midnight to pursue the Orcs.
Notes: Not too much story today after the absurd amount yesterday! Nothing on Team FS, due to their first chapter skipping a few days ahead. As a sidenote, I’m going to start using abbreviations for our new groups of heroes. Thankfully it works out nicely with no main characters sharing a first initial. For now we have Team AGL (Aragorn, Gimli, Legolas), Team MP (Merry, Pippin), and Team FS (Frodo, Sam). ~Tom
Breaking of the Fellowship
Shire Reckoning: February 26, 3019 (Solmath 26, 1420)
– Lament for Bomomir, by Karliene. Legitimately the best Tolkien cover. Please listen instead of just skipping over it!! I beg you.
Pages to read:
– FR.Breaking “The day came like fire and smoke” (~p.1) – (end)
– TT.DepartureOfBoromir (start) – TT.RidersOfRohan “stirred their cloaks, the chill wind of dawn” (~p.2)
– TT.UrukHai (start) – “payment is only put off. leg it!” (~p.7)
Breaking of the Fellowship:
– The sun rises as Frodo gazes out at Tol Brandir. Aragorn calls the company together and declares that everyone must decide their course of action today.
– The Ring bearer’s decision is the most pressing, and Frodo says he needs some time to decide. Sam notices Boromir staring at him strangely.
– Frodo makes his way alone up the side of Amon Hen. Along the way, he reflects on his journey so far, trying to decide what to do.
– He suddenly feels an unpleasant presence, but it is just Boromir, who appears friendly. Boromir wants to talk with Frodo and give him advice. However, Frodo admits that he knows what he must do – he is just afraid of doing it. Boromir starts getting pushy, asking why Frodo refuses his advice. Frodo voices doubt in the strength and truth of Men.
– Frodo says that there is no hope for Gondor while the Ring exisists. Boromir is irritated, and asks to see the Ring again. Frodo refuses, seeing a strange gleam in Boromir’s eyes.
– Boromir reveals plans to use the Ring for good, and berates Frodo for wanting to throw it away. He goes on and on about how Men are stronger than wizards and Elves and how they could harness the Ring against the Enemy.
– Frodo sadly states that his decision is even clearer now: to head straight for Mordor. Boromir directly demands that Frodo lend him the Ring. Frodo refuses, and with a “raging fire” in his eyes, Boromir leaps at Frodo. Frodo panics and slips the Ring on his finger.
– With Frodo invisible, Boromir runs about wildly, cursing Frodo and accusing him of working for Sauron. Then he trips over a rock and falls flat on his face. After a moment, he begins to weep. He cries out “‘Frodo! Come back! A madness took me, but it has passed. Come back!'”
– However, Frodo is already lone gone, having run away in terror. He soon reaches the summit of Amon Hen, where a great stone throne overlooks the land below. Still wearing the Ring, Frodo gets up onto the Seat of Seeing and sees visions of faraway lands. (Art by John Howe)
– All across Middle Earth, Frodo sees signs of war. As the vision heads toward Mordor, Frodo begins to feel the presence of Sauron. Hope leaves him as he realizes there was an Eye in the Dark Tower which was looking for him. Just as he is about to reveal himself to it, he comes to his senses, jumps off the seat, and removes the Ring. As the sunlight returns and Frodo calms down, he realizes that the evil of the Ring is at work in the company. He decides to go straight to Mordor, alone, not willing to risk the lives of any more companions.
– Back at camp, Aragorn confers with the others. They all voice support for whatever Frodo would decide, but Aragorn proposes that they split up anyway, saying that everyone going to Mordor would be overkill. Sam correctly guesses that Frodo will want to go alone nevertheless.
– Boromir returns to the camp and briefly tells how he confronted Frodo. He doesn’t explain that he tried to take the Ring, and still appears to be stricken with grief. When he says that Frodo put on the Ring and vanished, everyone goes into full panic and runs off to try to find him. Aragorn tries to organize the search, sending Boromir after Merry and Pippin before heading to the summit himself.
– Sam quickly realizes however, that Frodo will need the boats to get anyway and returns to the camp. When he gets to the shore, he sees a boat heading out and tries to jump in. He misses and flails about in the water. Frodo saves him, and tries to discourage him from coming. Sam bravely declares that he is coming whether Frodo likes it or not. Frodo eventually shows that he is glad to have Sam along with him. They row across the river and come safely to the eastern shore.
– Fellowship ends with the following words: “Then shouldering their burden, they set off, seeking a path that would bring them over the grey hills of the Emyn Muil, and down into the Land of Shadow.”
The Departure of Boromir
– Aragorn tries to follow Frodo’s footsteps on Amon Hen. He runs around for a while, seeing no sign of Frodo, but eventually hears the sound of Orcs below. He then hears the horn of Boromir, and rushes to his aid.
– Aragorn finds Boromir after the sounds of battle fade. Boromir is propped up against a tree, pierced with many black arrows. His horn lies broken by his side, alongside a huge pile of slain orcs. (art by chmiel)
– Boromir admits his earlier mistake to Aragorn, exhibiting remorse for having both failed his task to save Gondor, and betrayed the trust of the Company. He explains that Merry and Pippin were took alive by the orcs. With his dying breath, Boromir requests that Aragorn go to Minas Tirith in his place and save his people.
– Aragorn is greatly moved by the death of his comrade (Art by black3). Gimli and Legolas find him weeping over his body.
– They decide to send Boromir’s body over the Falls of Rauros in place of proper burial. There is a somber scene on the shore of the Anduin, as they load Boromir’s body into a boat and send it over the falls (Art by Ted Nasmith). Afterward, the three sing a mournful tune. (See top of post)
– Back at the shore, Aragorn finds Sam and Frodo’s packs and boat missing, deducing that they took off together eastward. He declares that the Company is no more and it is no longer his destiny to follow Frodo.
– With gusto, Gimli and Legolas join Aragorn as they set out in pursuit of the Orcs at sunset.
The Riders of Rohan
– A/G/L run all night in pursuit of Merry and Pippin. After some time, they see signs of a struggle and some dead orcs. As morning approaches, they reach the border of a great valley.
The Uruk Hai
– Pippin wakes in the evening, recalling the frantic search from Frodo from the afternoon. He finds himself bound tightly lying next to Merry amidst a great company of Orcs.
– After a moment, Pippin’s memories return. He recalls how after running away from camp, he had run into a band of Orcs, seemingly waiting for them. Merry fought bravely, and Boromir came leaping through the woods to their rescue. However, they were soon ambushed again and Boromir blew his great horn valiantly. The orcs continued to rain arrows into Boromir as the trio was overrun (Art by Deligaris). Pippin’s last memory was Boromir slumped against a tree, pulling out an arrow.
– Pippin grieves over his situation and struggles a bit. The orcs threaten him, but eventually he just gets ignored while they argue. Speaking in the Common Speech, they reveal that their orders were to capture halflings, aka Hobbits. There are mainly two parties of Orcs – Uruk-Hai from Isengard (led by Uglúk) and Orcs of Sauron (led by Grishnákh). (Art by TurnerMohan).
– There is a commotion as the orcs fight, and Pippin manages to cut his bonds with a knife from a dead body. Once order is restored, the Orcs grab Merry and Pippin and set off. Pippin loses consciousness again.
– The Orcs eventually decide they want Merry and Pippin to walk, so they revive the pair with some Orc medicine.
– They run all night. Pippin gets the idea to toss aside the brooch from his cloak near morning, although he is doubtful that anyone from the Company is coming to save him.
– One of Boromir’s well-known lines during his argument with Frodo: “‘The Ring! Is it not a strange fate that we should suffer so much fear and doubt for so small a thing?’“
– Frodo to Sam after Sam demands he come along to Mordor: “‘But I’m glad, Sam. I cannot tell you how glad. Come along! It is plain that we were meant to go together.’“
– The argument between Uglúk and Grishnák is pretty classic, and one of the best instances we get of Orcs interacting amongst themselves.
– Gates of Argonath, by breath-art. Mural-style art reviewing today’s events.
From The Tale of Years:
Breaking of the Fellowship. Death of Boromir; his horn is heard in Minas Tirith. Meriadoc and Peregrin captured. Frodo and Samwise enter the eastern Emyn Muil. Aragorn sets out in pursuit of the Orcs at evening. Éomer hears of the descent of the Orc-band from the Emyn Muil.
Notes: Today starts the trend of having pages split across several chapters. Sorry for the late update, especially with all the pages, but it took a while to type and I got sidetracked. Anyway, one of my all-time favorite Tolkien songs today, and the big climax of Fellowship. We also get the first segments of all the isolated quests after the Company is split into Aragorn/Gimli/Legolas, Merry/Pippin, and Frodo/Sam. ~Tom
The Company pass Argonath and camp at Parth Galen
Shire Reckoning: February 25, 3019 (Solmath 25, 1420)
Pages to read:
– FR.GreatRiver “Nothing happened that night worse” (~p.13) – FR.BreakingOfTheFellowship “we must go warily tomorrow” (~p.1)
– It rains in the morning, but clears up quickly as the river enters a narrow ravine.
– The river takes the Company quickly through the iconic Gates of Argonath (art: The Pillars of the Kings, by Ted Nasmith). These ancient Númenórean statues still stand proudly, despite being thousands of years old.
– Even Boromir is moved by their presence (art: Boromir and the Statues of the Argonath, by DonatoArts). Aragorn reveals that they are modeled after Isildur and Anárion, his ancestors.
– The statues seem to revitalize Aragorn, and Frodo marvels at how he no longer looks like a Ranger, but like a king returning from exile.
– Finally the boats come out of the ravine and into a lake (Nen Hithoel). On the eastern and western shores respectively are the peaks Amon Lhaw and Amon Hen, where there used to stand great watchtowers. In the middle of the lake sits the island Tol Brandir. (Art: Tol Brandir, by Ted Nasmith). The Falls of Rauros lie just past Tol Brandir.
– The Company camps for the night on Parth Galen, a field on the riverbank below Amon Hen.
– During the night, Aragorn is uneasy. Frodo gets worried, and they check Frodo’s sword Sting, finding it faintly glowing. However, Aragorn reasons that this is just due to faraway orcs on the eastern (opposite) shore and decides there is no immediate threat. Aragorn warns Frodo to keep a watchful eye out tomorrow for unexpected threats.
From The Tale of Years:
The Fellowship pass the Argonath and camp at Parth Galen. First Battle of the Fords of Isen; Théodred son of Théoden slain.
Sidenote (the Fords of Isen):
You may notice that in the appendix plot summary for today, it notes the First Battle of the Fords of Isen. This is a disastrous battle over in Rohan (the horse-lord nation to the northwest of Gondor) wherein the Prince of Rohan, Théodred, is slain by orcs from Saruman. Théodred obviously never appears directly in the story, but his death will have consequences for Rohan which we will see soon…
– Art: Theodred, by WermoongRey. Awesome art of Théodred’s last stand!
– Art: Ethraid Engrin, by MatejCadil. Melancholy drawing of the Fords covered in dead bodies after the battle.
– Fonstad map, reviewing the journey from Jan. 15 up to today.
– Fonstad maps 1, 2, 3. These map show the routes that members of the Company will take in the upcoming weeks. Obviously lots of spoilers, but good for keeping up with the geography.
Notes: Okay so this one didn’t turn out too terribly long, but that’s because I was stupid and thought today was tomorrow. As spoiled by the chapter title, tomorrow is the Breaking of the Fellowship, so the update will (actually) be long. ~Tom
Portage around Sarn Gebir
Shire Reckoning: February 24, 3019 (Solmath 24, 1420)
Pages to read:
– FR.GreatRiver “When the day came the mood” (~p.10) – “three hours off and one on guard” (~p.13)
– Boromir tries to convince everyone to abandon the river now and go to Gondor.
– Aragorn, however, wins the argument and the Company agree to ride the boats a little further, at least to the Gates of Argonath.
– The company spends the whole day portaging the boats around the Sarn Gebir rapids.
Notes: Surprise, surprise – Boromir tries to get everyone to go to his homeland again. As a sidenote: tomorrow’s update will be quite long. In fact, most days from here on out will be long, especially as we tackle all of Two Towers in just a few weeks. ~Tom
Sarn Gebir and Orc attack
Shire Reckoning: February 23, 3019 (Solmath 23, 1420)
Pages to read:
– FR.GreatRiver “The next day the country on either side” (~p.5) – “trees above them began to drip” (~p.10)
– The scenery on the river banks finally starts to change on the eighth day out. There are thickets and brambles lining both banks, with rocky hills behind.
– The company rests during the day, and Legolas sees a eagle in the distance, flying southward.
– At nightfall, the company rides on, and Aragorn warns them of the Sarn Gebir rapids ahead.
– The stars shine brightly enough for Sam on lookout to see the rapids just before the boats reach them.
– Boromir yells that the company must stop the boats, but as they try to do so, Orcs start raining arrows on them from the eastern bank. Luckily, the Orcs have Stormtrooper aim and the company survives the onslaught, with help from their elvish camouflage cloaks.
– With lots of intense paddling, they land on the western shore and Legolas prepares to return fire with an arrow. However, the Orcs seem to have vanished from the other shore and a dark shape comes out of the south and blots out the night sky.
– Turns out the “eagle” from before is back with a vengeance, but Legolas shoots it down. The beast crashes into the eastern shore and causes a commotion. (art by Anke Eissmann)
– After said commotion dies down, Aragorn leads the company a bit back upstream to a safer hiding spot. They agree that facing the rapids tomorrow in the daylight would be much safer.
– Frodo guesses the identity of the beast, but doesn’t want to share.
– Sam realizes that the phase of the moon is different from what he expects, and Legolas explains that time passes differently in the Elvish realms. Aragorn reveals that they spent a whole month in Lothlórien, and although it seemed much shorter while on the inside, time passed normally outside.
– The fact that time passes much faster “beneath the sun” is actually a fairly important plot point from the First Age and is one of the many reasons Middle Earth is a suboptimal place for Elves to stay.
– While due to the nature of LOTRRA, we knew that Lothlórien was a month-long detour, it might not have been obvious for first-time readers (or for Sam). There’e little description of the stay, matching with the feeling that little time passed.
– Sarn Gebir Rapids, by kovah. Cool art of the rapids at night.
From The Tale of Years:
The boats are attacked at night near Sarn Gebir.
Notes: Well remember when I said Tolkien implied time passed weirdly in Lothlórien? Turns out I forgot he just explicitly states it here. Anyway, pretty good bout of action for today: short and snappy. Just one day left before our readings get obscenely long for the rest of the project! ~Tom