A Tolkien Virgin: The Fellowship of the Ring - Book II - Chapter 4 - The Journey Continues

"The chamber was lit by a wide shaft high in the further eastern wall; it slanted upwards and, far above, a small square patch of blue sky could be seen. The light of the shaft fell directly on a table in the middle of the room: a single oblong block, about two feet high, upon which was laid a great slab of white stone."
Chapter 4
A Journey in the Dark

So, it is to Moria that the fellowhip goes, and the hunt is up with Wargs about them!

The wolf attack was vivid, as was the attack of that hideous tennacled thing at the gate. What the heck was that? The mystery at the gate, trying to figure out the password with time running out was particularly memorable. I especially liked the illustration of the gate. The geography was descriptive, but a touch confusing--which is probably normal the first time through. And since I was expecting them to find Balin and some survivors alive in Moria, his tomb at the end there was a bit of a shock.

Now, even though I know I'm gonna take a lot of hits from folks on the Messageboard, I'm going to confess that I didn't find Moria nearly as frightful a place as the characters said and Tolkien tried to evoke. The one thing that made me a little bit nervous was the footsteps Frodo heard following them. Why doesn't he say something to Gandalf? Clearly they are being pursued in pitch blackness by an unseen enemy of some kind!

But in the end, the statement that, "the wildest imaginings that dark rumour had ever suggested to the hobbits fell altogether short of the actual dread and wonder of Moria," left me unconvinced. It's a huge, complex, pitch-black labyrinth with the pitter patter of little feet in the distance. That's scary, but I'm sorry, Bilbo's encounter with Smaug, and the attack on Weathertop were way more dreadful.

I guess since I know the story goes on for hundreds of pages after Moria, it takes something more immediately frightening for me to get carried away by the narrative. At the slow parts I'm usually aware that they are basically on a road of fate and despite the pitfalls, temporary dangers, and unexpected twists and turns, they will reach the end somehow. It's like watching one of the earlier Bond movies. You're never really scared that he's gonna die cause after all, there are sequels. You just wonder "how does he get out of it this time?" Maybe it's gripping, but it's not that scary.

Oh and I was definitely expecting them to find Balin... alive. Poor guy.

till next time, keep thinking,

Mark-Edmond Howell
Kanazawa, Japan

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