Chapter 4

A Shortcut to Mushrooms

“Well Mr. Frodo, I’m glad that you’ve had the sense to come back to Buckland. My advice is: stay there! And don’t get mixed up with these outlandish folk.”
Something about the black riders makes me uneasy… and I don’t mean their most obvious sinisterness (if that’s even a word). It’s that they almost seem to hold back. They get so close…like the night before, and even now one of them spots the hobbits as they dart into the thicket.

Maybe I’m attributing to them skills they don’t have, but I expect them to be able to successfully ambush the hobbits, or incapacitate them from a distance.

Those frightening wails, some kind of communication, seem to show that they know where the hobbits are, that they are successfully tracking them, but they don’t move in. Maybe they just can’t. Maybe they’re not holding back. Maybe it’s just me.

Could these Black Riders be those mortal men enthralled by the Enemy with the rings of power? Or are they just his lesser minions?

One thing I will say is that Tolkien does a fantastic job of putting the reader in the place of his characters. Specifically, at the end of the chapter we hear the Black Rider approaching–I’m trying to figure out how Frodo is going to escape, I start reading faster… and then it turns out to be Merry!