The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
Shire Reckoning: January 15, 3019 (Afteryule 15, 1420)
Pages To Read:
-FR.JourneyInTheDark “He woke and found that” (~p.24) – FR.Lothlorien “take the road south as soon as it is fully light” (~p.14)
Note from the coordinator: Yes the reading is long but please please please read at least The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm. It’s super good and amazing and suspenseful and exciting and yeah just read it. It’s like 12 pages. Plus it has the most iconic scene. Seriously it’s like Tolkien used up all his exciting writing on this one chapter. (I mean there’s more good stuff later but I digress)
– Lay of Nimrodel, by Colin John Rudd. Interesting take on the song; Colin John Rudd has a bit more of a spoken-word style. I will also give this song a bit more of a spotlight in the future, just want to focus on Khazad-Dûm today!
Journey In The Dark:
– Morning comes and light filters into the hall, proving that they have come to the eastern edge of Moria. Even Gimli is ready to leave, satisfied at having seen Moria.
– Trying to find the best way out, the Company comes across a brightly lit room. Inside lies a tomb. (Art by peet)
– The tomb is revealed to contain Balin. Yes, Balin from the Hobbit. Rest in peace, my good man.
The Bridge of Khazad-Dûm:
– Gimli and the rest of the Company are saddened by this discovery. In another side room, they ominously find dead bodies and bones.
– Gandalf picks up a stained book lying around and carefully tries to read it.
– Working with Gimli, Gandalf manages to decipher some passages from the book which appears to be a record of Balin’s attempted recolonization of Moria. It all went well for a couple of years until orcs and such inevitably showed up. They flip the final page.
– There is only a short, grim passage, saying a bunch of intense things and just go read it this is like the best part!!!
– Just as the Company reads the words ‘drums in the deep’ and decide to make a hasty exit, they hear a huge boom coming from the depths below. Yes, a literal drum in the deep.
– The drums get louder and horns answer as the Company hears the sound of feet approaching. The room they are stuck in has two exits. One has a huge horde of Orcs, Uruks, and trolls outside, which obviously Boromir and Aragorn try to barricade. A troll bashes its way in, and the company bravely fights off a first wave of orcs.
– They retreat momentarily and the Company tries to escape through the other door. A huge orc-chieftain catches them just before they get out and seemingly impales Frodo with a spear toss. Aragron dispatches of him quickly, then grabs Frodo and gets the heck out of there. The rest follow suit, although Gimli has to be dragged away from the tomb by Legolas.
– Frodo, of course, is alive (wow such a worthwhile dramatic reveal of your secret armor), and Gandalf hurries them down the stairs. He tells them to go on while he holds the door. Aragorn wants to help, but Gandalf proclaims “‘Swords are no more use here.’“
– As they stumble down, they see a huge flash of light above and Gandalf comes crashing down.
– They continue down (remember the hall had been above the level of the gate) as the temperature rises and the sounds of pursuit fade.
– Gandalf explains that he had felt an evil presence in the chamber and the orcs had been chanting something to do with ‘fire.’ The passages start to glow red as they near the exit.
– Suddenly they come out into a great hall. Across the hall, a bridge leads to the stairs which will take them up to the gate and into the sun. There’s a huge chasm in the hall floor, filled with flames, but it seems to not stand in their way. As they dash across the huge room, the orcs catch up but are stuck on the other side of the chasm.
– As the Company reaches the bridge, a menacing creature appears in the flames behind them. Even the orcs cower away from it in fear. Yes you guessed it, it’s the Balrog of Moria, Durin’s Bane. It is primarily described as being wreathed in shadows, although it does wield a blazing sword and a whip.
– At this point just go read the scene pls.
– Gandalf is dismayed, saying the equivalent of “I’m too old for this ****”.
– The Company dashes across the bridge at Gandalf’s insistence, although Aragorn and Boromir wait at the far side of the bridge, unwilling to leave Gandalf behind. The Balrog reaches the bridge where Gandalf stands alone, bearing his staff in his left hand and Glamdring in his right. (art by aegeri)
– Super famous quote happens, Gandalf destroys the bridge, Balrog drags down Gandalf with it, and JUST GO READ IT
– Aragorn leads everyone away and indeed they quickly reach the gate and come out into the bright light of day. They make it some distance from the gates, and grief overcomes the Company as the drum beats fade.
– Some stuff happens. I’ll probably cover this in more detail tomorrow as I want to let everyone enjoy the best chapter on its own despite more stuff technically happening today.
– In brief: The Company travels down into the Dimrill Dale towards Lothlórien, an Elvish realm. They stop for a bit by the Falls of Nimrodel and Legolas sings a song. Frodo reveals his mithril coat and everyone has some nice bonding moments. In the evening, they are approached by the Lothlórien border patrol and Legolas manages make a deal with them.
Quotes & Trivia:
– So of course Gandalf, being the quote master, has to pack in several more famous quotes before he can fall to his doom. The best and most iconic, is of course his showdown with the Balrog:
“‘You cannot pass,’ he said. The orcs stood still, and a dead silence fell. ‘I am a servant of the Secret Fire, wielder of the flame of Anor. You cannot pass. The dark fire will not avail you, flame of Udûn. Go back to the Shadow! You cannot pass.'”
– Also great is his pre-battle command: “‘Fly! This is a foe beyond any of you. I must hold the narrow way. Fly!’” And of course his death quote: “‘Fly, you fools!’“
– An underrated element of this chapter is Boromir and especially Aragorn’s devotedness to Gandalf and the fact that they actually try to assist him (or at least offer their help throughout). Although Gandalf does do most of the heavy lifting, it’s not exactly like he’s just soloing this dungeon with no assistance, which is a common problem for many overpowered fantasy characters.
– The whole Balrog fight is a little less intense in the 1977 Bakshi animated move, but it’s still interesting to see.
– Then we have the PJ version of this scene which, like the book, is one of the best parts of the whole series. I really like how the whole sequence is done pretty faithfully, especially the final confrontation with Durin’s Bane, which of course is, like, the most epic movie scene of all time. Link here. How can you resist watching it again after today’s chapter, really?
– Fonstad Map of Moria. Cool map showing the layout of Moria. Obviously with all her maps, there are some story spoilers, so, yeah.
– Tolkien Ensemble Song of Nimrodel. Actually pretty nice.
From The Tale of years:
The Bridge of Khazad-dûm, and fall of Gandalf. The Fellowship reaches Nimrodel late at night.
Notes: Sorry if I got a bit excited while writing this, but I really love this chapter. Also I just couldn’t bring myself to type out a huge thing for the Chapter 6 content today, I felt the focus should just stay on the epic Chapter 5. Tomorrow I’ll go back and fill in those details. ~Tom