“At one point, near the bank of the Entwash, [Aragorn] came upon footprints: hobbit-prints, but too light for much to be made of them…”
Chapter 5
The White Rider

Right on! Gandalf is reborn the White Rider!!

A great Maia he must be indeed! Baptized by death, struck down as it were, he has become more powerful than we could possibly imagine. Without a word Gimli’s axe is cast down, Aragorn’s sword bursts into flame, Legolas’ arrow disintegrates. In Moria, putting a spell on a door exhausted him more than he ever had been…but after his fall in Moria, he chased down the Balrog, fought it mono y mono and beat its butt into the mountainside??!!! If he’s not a Maia then he must be of a race like the Ents or Hobbits that wasn’t mentioned in the Silmarillion. I mean could he really be a Man? or even a Númenorean?

I’ve been good, right? I haven’t had anything nasty to say for quite a few chapters, right? Well, sorry to break my good streak, but this chapter has problems. Only one problem, really. Sure, the way Gandalf was finally revealed was exciting, but it comes across as a bit awkward. Certainly Gandalf always was a little difficult to understand and has acted strangely in the past, but Tolkien’s desire to convince the reader that the old man must be Saruman and reveal Gandalf with flare and panache overwhelmed his normal ability to tell a believable story…the entire process of discovery is so contrived that it breaks the flow of the narrative. Sure it got me reading faster, but in the end I just had to roll my eyes. Come on Tolkien, you could’ve done much better.

That aside, I’m glad to have Gandalf back. And the manner in which the overall story is being told is working splendidly…switching the focus from the Three Hunters to Merry and Pippin, and back again. It keeps everything pleasantly suspenseful. But, where oh where can Frodo and Sam be now?

Till next time, keep thinking,

Mark-Edmond Howell
Kanazawa Japan