‘Fear not!’ he said. ‘Long have I desired to look upon the likenesses of Isildur and Anarion, my sires of old. Under their shadow Elessar, the Elfstone son of Arathorn of the House of Valandil Isildur’s son, heir to Elendil, has nought to dread!’

Chapter 9

The Great River

Time passes. Days go by ever so slowly as they work their way South and the land becomes more desolate. Sam’s bored and miserable, but then there’s good ol’ Boromir starting to freak out about “something,” and we all know what that “something” is.

Another plot complication in a name: Gollum! So…it was Gollum back in Moria, Gollum on their trail, in the tree, in the water. He’s gonna be trouble (as if revealing the existence of the Ring to Sauron wasn’t bad enough!) I particularly like the brief moment Frodo takes his stand against Gollum: “He stood up, drawing Sting from its sheath, and faced the eyes.” That’s just cool. It kinda gives Frodo that heroic edge, even if it is just Gollum he’s standing against. He doesn’t cry out or get nervous, he just stands up with Sting in hand. Gollum remembers that blade, I bet.

Something that itches my brain is Aragorn’s statement about Gollum, “we might make use of him.” How? Strider’s caught him before, he and Gandalf learned what they needed about the ring from him… what else would he tell them? What else could he do for them?

Birds and an eagle far above. An Eagle. What’s it doing here?

They reach the rapids earlier than Aragorn reckoned. Now that’s not like Strider.

They survive an ambush of archers from the east bank, and eventually make their way to the western shore. The image of Legolas outlined by stars on the bank is a great one. He takes out some evil winged creature far above against the night. What was it? What bird could be worse than a Balrog? A dragon?! Is Sauron breeding dragons?

We then learn just how much time they spent in Lothlorien…ouch! Not smart! Recovery and preparation for what comes next is important, but time is a precious comodity now, the sooner the Ring is destroyed the better! What evil will come of their over-long stay in Lothlorien? What future evil would have been avoided if they had left one week, or even one day earlier?

Boromir fails to convince the party to abandon the boats, and looking at the map at the front of the book, I can’t see the point of it. If they abandon the boats they’d have to basically walk alongside the river all the way to Minas Tirith, if that’s indeed where they’re headed.

A little out of place is Aragorn’s “wait for us a day and if we don’t come back then pick a new leader,” speech followed immediately by his succesful return. Rarely does Tolkien include such loaded speech without part of it coming true. But nothing happened to Aragorn at all. It was totally uneventful. They make their way successfully to the southern landing below the rapids and spend another uneventful night.

One phenomenal image is the passing of the Argonath. Just absolutely awe-inspiring. Aragorn, “a king returning from exile to his own land,” now that’s big, and probably the origin of the title of the third published volume of LotR. But, where the heck is Minas Anor? I looked at the map and there’s no such city in this region.

And in the end, it’s decision time. Supposedly. Something could still come up in the next chapter that forces them one direction, and I’m guessing that’s what’ll happen; that seems the most Tolkien way of going about it. I have to admit that I spied the title of the next chapter: “the Breaking of the Fellowship.” So, we know they don’t all go together. Who will go with Boromir? Who will go with Frodo? And here’s hoping Boromir goes his way without making for the ring. But then that would make all the previous indications somewhat pointless, and that’s not like Tolkien.

till next time, keep thinking,


Kanazawa, Japan