“It was dreary and wearisome. Cold clammy winter still held sway in this forsaken country. The only green was the scum of livid weed on the dark greasy surfaces of the sullen waters. Dead grasses and rotting reeds loomed up in the mists like ragged shadows of long-forgotten summers.”
Book IV
Chapter 2
The Passage of the Marshes

The two Hobbits led by Gollum make their way down into the foul menancing Marshes. Food is a problem, especially for Gollum. I suppose it makes sense that Gollum can’t eat lembas, but I keyed in on this phrase of Frodo’s “…not yet, anyway.” Can there yet be hope for Gollum? Well it seems like there may be. Afterall, Gollum did catch the two hobbits napping–twice. The first time he made no attempt to harm them or steal the ring–and I was thinking, “Why wouldn’t he just take it and run if he’s so bad… he can’t eat lembas?” But, Gollum’s dialogue with Smeagol, when he’s caught them napping again at the end of the chapter, is revealing and a bit frightening. How much longer before Gollum’s snapped (or cured)? And, who is “she”? Where and why and how does he think she will help him? I don’t agree with Sam that she might be a friend he’s made somewhere. Gollum make friends? That doesn’t sound right. Let’s just say by the end of the chapter I was more unsure about Gollum than ever. At least we can be sure he’s not going to turn them over to Sauron.

On a different note, I will say that I don’t like Frodo’s tone. Don’t worry about coming back? Let’s just go and die and get it over with? It’s more than he can bear? Hmmm, a bit disconcerting. I mean, they still have a long way to go for Frodo to start acting like that already!

“It was dreary and wearisome.” Indeed! And I can feel it. Suddenly I wouldn’t mind it so much if Tolkien went back to talking about Ent houses and Orthanc and great battles like Helm’s Deep. The revelation of the lights, visions of corpses beneath rank waters, is disgustingly vivid. It gives me a sick feeling and makes me want to get the hell out of there. But with the “wraiths on wings” I didn’t want to move at all. Not till it was gone and then double time. I want to get Frodo moving. For the love of God stop lagging and get going or you’re going to get caught, burden be damned! But, how are they supposed to get into Mordor? Stow away on a cart or something? That’s going to be tricky.

Finally, the uneasiness, fear, noxious environs, and just over all dark feel of this book so far makes for a less enjoyable experience than the last book. But what should I expect, this is Mordor we’re talking about after all. In a story like this it can’t all be candy and apple pie.

till next time, keep thinking

Kanazawa, Japan