FOTR Chapters 9&10: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony/Strider

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FOTR Chapters 9&10: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony/Str

Postby Gilwen » Wed Jan 04, 2006 9:00 am

Happy New Year everyone and welcome to the discussion thread of chapters 9 and 10 of The Fellowship of the Ring! If you are new to this forum, please sign in at the LOTR OOC thread before posting. Every opinion is welcome!

SUMMARY: At the Sign of the Prancing Pony.

The chapter begins with a description of Bree and its inhabitants, descendants of the first men that wandered into the west of Middle Earth. In the wild lands beyond Bree lived tall dark men called Rangers, thought to have strange powers of sight and hearing and to understand the languages of birds and beasts.
The four hobbits arrive at Bree after nightfall and are questioned by the gatekeeper, who tells them there are queer people abroad. After they passed the gate, a dark figure climbs it and enters the village. They arrive at the inn and are welcomed by the innkeeper Barliman Butterbur, and are showed into their rooms, served supper and invited to join the company (a group of dwarves, another of men from the south and some local men and hobbits) in the common room. They all agree except Merry who says he would rather stay or take a walk. In the common room they are questioned by the locals and Frodo explains that he’s writing a book about hobbits living outside the Shire. After some conversation Frodo notices a strange-looking man sitting in the shadows and learns from Butterbur that he’s a Ranger called Strider. Strider invites him to sit down by him and doubting that Frodo’s name was Underhill, advises him to prevent his friends from feeling too comfortable and talking too much. Frodo, fearing Pippin would mention the Ring by accident jumps up and stands on a table and begins to talk, but suddenly has the desire to slip on the Ring and feels the suggestion comes from something or someone in the room. He resists the temptation, and begins a song when asked by a local hobbit. Excited by its success, Frodo leaps in the air while singing, slips, rolls off the table and disappears, to the astonishment of the whole room. A Breelander, a southern man and the gatekeeper leave the room afterwards. Frodo crawls under the tables and sits by Strider. Calling him Baggins, Strider says he did worse than his friends could have done and tells him that he wants to talk to Frodo about something of importance to both. Frodo agrees and comes forward into the light and shows himself, causing an uproar that ends the entertainment for the evening. Mr. Butterbur approaches him and says that he had reminded something that Frodo should know and asks to have a talk with him, and he accepts to this too.

SUMMARY: Strider

The three hobbits return to their parlour, Merry isn’t there. Strider follows them and says that he will tell Frodo what he knows and offer some advice in exchange for a reward: taking him along in their journey. He says that he had overheard the conversation between the hobbits and Tom Bombadil outside Bree and had followed them because he was looking for a hobbit named Frodo Baggins, for he was carrying outside the Shire a secret that concerned him and his friends. He mentions that two black horsemen had passed through Bree and that more were coming for he knew those riders. He tells them that some of the Breelanders are not to be trusted, specially Bill Ferny who quitted the common room after Frodo’s accident and could sell news of the hobbits to the riders. He said the hobbits will have to escape the next day and that he can take them by paths seldom trodden. He exclaims that he riders are terrible and his face is drawn as if in pain. Sam distrusts him, but Frodo doubts saying that he is not really as he chose to look. Strider replies that they will never get to Rivendell on their own, that trusting him is their only choice.
They are interrupted by Butterbur’s entrance. He begins apologizing, for he was asked by Gandalf to look out for hobbits of the Shire, and for one named Baggins that would travel as Underhill. Gandalf had asked him three months before to send a message to the Shire, for he had to be off in a hurry. But Butterbur couldn’t find anybody willing to take the message, and being a busy man, he had forgotten about it. He then tells them that black riders had been looking for Baggins, and Frodo says he fears they may come from Mordor. Butterbur offers to help and Frodo orders breakfast for early next morning, for they should leave as soon as possible. They notice than that Merry hasn’t returned from his walk and Butterbur promises he would send someone to look for him.
The hobbits read the letter. In it Gandalf says that Frodo should leave Bag End before the end of July at the latest, and that he may meet a friend of his on the road, a man dark, lean and tall called Strider by some people, but whose actual name is Aragorn, quoting a verse that applied to him. After this Strider reveals that he is Aragorn son of Arathorn and that he bears the sword that was broken. It is settled then that they will follow Strider and make for Weathertop, a hill north of the Road halfway to Rivendell. He expresses his worries about Gandalf’s absence.
Merry came in with a rush saying that he had seen Black Riders in the village when he went out for a walk and tried to follow them but felt terrified, turned back and something came behind him and he fell over. Nob, the hobbit Butterbur had sent to look for him, found him asleep nigh Bill Ferny’s house surrounded by shadows that fled as he came near. He woke Merry who ran back to the inn. They decide then not to go to their rooms. Nob ruffled up the bed clothes and put a bolster down in a middle of each bed and makes an imitation of Frodo’s head with a mat. They go to sleep in the parlour while Strider watches by the door.
Last edited by Gilwen on Wed Jan 04, 2006 4:34 pm, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Gilwen » Wed Jan 04, 2006 9:14 am

QUESTIONS:

1. The men settled in Bree during the First Age, and “when the Kings returned again over the Great Seas they had found the Bree men still there, and they were still there now, when the memory of the Old Kings had faded into the grass”. What does this fragment say about the virtues of simple life?

2. Why if the Breelanders lived through the fall of the Kingdom of Arnor, they don’t know anything certain about the Rangers?

3. Comment on the relationship between men and hobbits living in Bree. Is this an example of how to live in harmony? What illustrated Tolkien with this?

4. In what aspects is Bree similar/different of/from the Shire?

5. What may be gathered from the initial description of Strider? How much does this description resemble the final character of Aragorn?

6. Frodo felt that his desire to put on the Ring while standing in the table came from something or someone in the room. What or who could it be?

7. When Strider speaks of the Riders it seems as if he had had a close encounter with them before. When and where could this have happened?

8. Gandalf writes in his letter to Frodo: "Do NOT use It again". The first recorded time Frodo puts on the Ring is in Tom Bombadil’s house, about three months after the letter was written. What does this mean?

9. Aragorn’s attitude is somewhat cynical in these chapters, very different from what he shows in the rest of the book. Is it a part of his Strider disguise?

10. In chapter 10 we find the first mention of the Black Breath. Compare Merry’s first experience of the Black Breath to his second during ROTK. Does it show an evolution in the concept of Nazguls in general or is it just a proof of the increase in Sauron’s display of power?


Feel free to add any topic you find intersting!
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Postby Nadreck_of_Palain7 » Thu Jan 05, 2006 8:26 pm

2. Why if the Breelanders lived through the fall of the Kingdom of Arnor, they don’t know anything certain about the Rangers?

The remaining Dunedain did not put up a poster announcing they were becoming Rangers. They probably made the change secretly. The only outsiders that seemed to know anything about the Rangers were the residents of Rivendell. After the fall of Arnor, Bree probably lost most of the contact with the rest of Middle Earth that they had formerly had and seemed to lose interests in affairs in the rest of the world. Though even with greatly diminished traffic, you would think a crossroads town like Bree would be more aware of the outer world than the isolated Shire.

4. In what aspects is Bree similar/different of/from the Shire?

The obvious difference was the presence of Men. Though the men who lived in Bree were farmers who seemed to be very close in culture to the Hobbits.

Another difference is that Bree had more contact with the outside world, due to its location. Though Bree seemed to have less interest in the outside world than you would expect in a crossroads town.

Bree seemed to have even less government than the Shire. The important families in the Shire, such as the Tooks or Brandybucks, did not seem to have a counterpart in Bree. Though this might just be that Tolkien did not take the time to go into this for a location that would only take up a small part of the story. Butterbur may have been the most important person in Bree.

7. When Strider speaks of the Riders it seems as if he had had a close encounter with them before. When and where could this have happened?

In the appendices, after Aragorn had served Gondor in the guise of Thorongil, he had traveled to the east. He may have gone in or near Mordor and had some sort of experience with the Nazgul there. Also he had been in Mirkwood, at least while helping to search for Gollum, and may have gone near Dol Guldur, which was probably inhabited by or visited by Nazgul.
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Postby Roccondil » Thu Jan 12, 2006 6:12 am

Thank you for the excellent summary and questions Gilwen. :)

I had hoped to post before this, but thinking about some of the background to this chapter has caused me to write a lot about Aragorn at this point in the story, some of which I may post later.

I'll confine myself for the moment to some comments on a couple of your questions and some further thoughts on Gildor.

8. Gandalf writes in his letter to Frodo: "Do NOT use It again".
The first recorded time Frodo puts on the Ring is in Tom Bombadil’s house, about three months after the letter was written. What does this mean?


This is obviously inconsistent with the current story as we know it and was in fact in the early drafts of this letter when the story was quite different. I think it must probably refer to the use of the Ring at Farmer Maggot's farm in an earlier draft, possibly before Gandalf's capture was added to the story.

9. Aragorn’s attitude is somewhat cynical in these chapters, very different from what he shows in the rest of the book. Is it a part of his Strider disguise?


When Aragorn follows the hobbits to Bree, but must have been very frustrated not only by the refusal by Butterbur to have a message sent to them, but also by the hobbits thoughtless behaviour in the Inn which gives away their location to the Nazgûl. It is no wonder that he makes some rather irritable comments both to the innkeeper and to some of the hobbits.


I have been considering Striders comments concerning Gildor's messages.
We have spoken in our discussions on previous chapters concerning the lack of help that Gildor offered to Frodo.

We know from this chapter that Gildor's messages probably reached Aragorn on 26th and again on 27th/28th September. We also know from the text of the "LOTR Reader’s Companion" that "the Dúnedain have met with the Elves ".

Gildor’s people must have been watching the exits to the Shire, for they reported to Aragorn that there was no news yet of Frodo leaving the Shire. But what does Aragorn’s statement that the Elves had told him in their second message that Frodo had left his home mean? If Bag End is meant, then that was implicit in their first message. His home must mean Crickhollow and that must also mean that they had been watching Frodo’s home there and keeping some watch over him. When they saw that he was gone but had not crossed the Bridge they sent a further message to Aragorn.

This brings us to the view that rather than abandoning Frodo after their meeting, the Elves were actually secretly watching over Frodo, through to his arrival at Crickhollow. When they realised he had vanished from there, they sent another urgent message.
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Postby Prince_of_the_Halflings » Sat Jan 14, 2006 5:16 am

Terrific work Gilwen!

Gilwen wrote:2. Why if the Breelanders lived through the fall of the Kingdom of Arnor, they don’t know anything certain about the Rangers?


I'll agree with Nadreck's points and also I'd point out there may have been considerable time between the fall of the North Kingdom and the arrival of Rangers at Bree. If the time was something like 50 or 100 years (not a long time to the Dunedain but very long to other Men) then memories of the Kings may have been dim enough that the connection was not made. And why would anyone make a connection between the former rulers of the land and a bunch of ragged strangers (no matter how noble their bearing)? Perhaps a few people did wonder - but I imagine that Breelanders never ventured up north to Annuminas or Fornost, even when they were still inhabited, so they wouldn't have been that knowledgeable about the Dunedain of the North. Or maybe they just didn't care; after all the hobbits of the Shire had been guarded ceaselessly by the Rangers and didn't even seem to know of their existence (as Frodo's questions to Butterbur regarding Strider probably indicate).

There's not much to go on as to when the Rangers did start operating, about the only thing I can find is in Appendix A 'The North Kingdom and The Dunedain': "...even before the Watchful Peace ended evil things began to attack Eriador". The Watchful Peace ended in 2460, and the Kingdom of Arnor fell in 1975, so possibly Eriador experienced several hundred peaceful years before the Dunedain felt it necessary to have the Rangers providing protection across their former realm. Plenty of time for the Breelanders to have forgotten all about the Dunedain of the North.

Alternately perhaps the Bree folk did know who the Rangers were initially, but after 1000 years they have simply forgotten. They don't seem to realise that "Deadman's Dike" is the ruins of Fornost, so clearly their grasp of the history of Arnor is pretty shaky!

Gilwen wrote:
6. Frodo felt that his desire to put on the Ring while standing in the table came from something or someone in the room. What or who could it be?


I've always found this very curious. It's hard to imagine who could have sparked such a desire, other than the Nazgul themselves. Certainly there were allies/agents of Mordor in Bree, but it's hard to see how ordinary Men could have influenced Frodo in this way. This may be a consequence of the somewhat ill-defined nature of the Nazgul at this point in the story - an inconsistency that was never ironed out.

Gilwen wrote:8. Gandalf writes in his letter to Frodo: "Do NOT use It again". The first recorded time Frodo puts on the Ring is in Tom Bombadil’s house, about three months after the letter was written. What does this mean?


Roccondil may be right about his, but reading "In The House of Tom Bombadil" again I'm not sure that this is the first time Frodo has used the Ring. Certainly Frodo doesn't hesitate to use it, nothing is said in the narrative about this being the first time ever, and Frodo is pretty confident that "it was his own ring all right" even though Bombadil clearly can see him! Some people consider Galadriel's comment "Only thrice have you set the Ring upon your finger" (in "The Mirror of Galadriel") as proof that the first time was in Bombadil's house: but what she says is, "Only thrice have you set the Ring upon your finger since you knew what you possessed", in other words since Gandalf told Frodo about the true nature of the Ring. Frodo could have used the Ring at times in the 17 years he had it before then. The way Galadriel phrases her statment implies that this could be the case.


Gilwen wrote:9. Aragorn’s attitude is somewhat cynical in these chapters, very different from what he shows in the rest of the book. Is it a part of his Strider disguise?


I think that the hobbits have to win Aragorn's trust (ie, that they are worthy of the quest they are undertaking), just as much as he has to win theirs, and initially they do very little to inspire any confidence or trust. Hence his cynicism.
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Postby gwynhvar » Sat Jan 21, 2006 5:45 am

Gilwen, thank you for your summary and questions. This is one of my favorite chapters, and I havn't had time to re-read it. So I won't even attempt to address all the questions, and my response is "top of my head."

It was the Prancing Pony that rescued the book for me, on first reading. I was ready to give up after Tom B.

Gilwen wrote:QUESTIONS:

2. Why if the Breelanders lived through the fall of the Kingdom of Arnor, they don’t know anything certain about the Rangers?


This returns us to Tolkien's skillfull creation of an alternate world, one with such a long and complex history that, just as in our own world, much of it has been lost, forgotten, or relegated to the realm of the arcane.

Also, because we already know that Gandalf knows some of this "lost" history, and have hints that the Elves, too, are guardians of knowledge elsewhere unknown or forgotten, the sense that both Gandalf and the Elves are dfferent, "special," is strengthened.

Gilwen wrote:5. What may be gathered from the initial description of Strider? How much does this description resemble the final character of Aragorn?

9. Aragorn’s attitude is somewhat cynical in these chapters, very different from what he shows in the rest of the book. Is it a part of his Strider disguise?


Well, did not Tolkien say, "the tale grew in the telling?" Is the character of Aragorn/Strider a good example of that? I am not a Tolkien scholar, so do not know in what order he created his universe. If he had not yet constructed his full history at the point where this chapter was written, I would guess that Strider enters the story as a sort of "Hawkeye" character (from "Last of the Mohecans" for those not familiar with American Literature).

If so, then as the tale grew, so did Aragorn's role, and thus his depth of character.

If Tolkien did have the full history in mind, and Aragorn's eventual apotheosis, then "Strider's" initial character presentation seems to me to be composed of three elements: the necessities of his "disguise," the sense of irony he, as an intellegent man must have had, of the contrast between his "heritage" and his public persona, and the grim knowledge his life has given him of the great evil power arrayed against the forces of good and the slim chance that the good would ever triumph.

Either way, it works for me, since it is in part the gradual deepening of Aragorn's character and importance to the story that sustains interest.
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Postby starlin » Tue Jan 24, 2006 11:07 am

It is absolutely unforgivable of me to come here so late, but I'll do my best to add something to the discussion.

The second question has already been answered thoroughly, I believe, and I agree with everything that has been said above. Though I would like to add that even during the years of the fall of Arnor commonfolk might not have been very well acquainted with the situation. The area of Bree is just several little villages with people who lead their own lives. They acknowledge the power of the King and they respect him. But what is King to a peasant or to an inn-keeper apart from a person to whom taxes have to be paid, if any? Politics in times such as those depicted in Tolkien's writings would be much more an affair of those who actually ruled the country. Just imagine: little communication, and communication such as exists is rather slowly; the King is somewhere far away and his people who look after local affairs are much closer than the monarch. If there is war, the thing that concerns a peasant or a blacksmith most is that someone might come and burn down his house, maybe even kill him and his family. The blacksmith has to make many more shoes for horses. The peasant has to give away his crops to soldiers. Life is harder for them than before, and that's what they care about - what's the difference who is fighting with whom? It's they who suffer.

1. The men settled in Bree during the First Age, and “when the Kings returned again over the Great Seas they had found the Bree men still there, and they were still there now, when the memory of the Old Kings had faded into the grass”. What does this fragment say about the virtues of simple life?


I am not sure whether I'd call that "simple life", but for the time being I cannot find anything better. It is a continuation of what I've said above: the stratum of the society that is involved in wars, politics and the like is much more dynamic, while the other strata may be more passive and keeping their traditions. Therefore they are more persistent, more immune to changes. Probably. That's just a speculation.
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Postby Arvegil » Wed Jan 25, 2006 5:20 pm

I will just add one more thing to the second question. The Bree people were there since the First Age. They are supposed to be related to the Dunlendings (although without the bad manners and desire to war with their neighbors observed in the latter group). During the Arnor/Arthedain period, Bree appears to have been not a Dunedain city, but more a non-Dunedain city within a Dunedain kingdom.

With no tribal/ ethnic/ cultural connection to the surviving Dunedain, and their noted insularity, the Breelanders may just consider what goes on outside their little corner of Middle-Earth to be none of their business. Doubly so, with no real connection to the Rangers.
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Postby Arvegil » Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:00 pm

"6. Frodo felt that his desire to put on the Ring while standing in the table came from something or someone in the room. What or who could it be?"

A couple of possibilities. First, the distant presence of the Black Riders might be making itself felt. Second, if Frodo feels the urge to put the Ring on in any unusual situation, this may be an initial sign of the Ring's increasing power over Frodo.
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Postby ElanorTheHobbit » Wed Feb 08, 2006 10:21 pm

This is my first attempt so please excuse if I sound like an idiot :wink:

I have to agree with Arvegil about Question 6. Although Frodo becomes desperate to put on the Ring when Black Riders are around, he also seems to subconsciously be attracted to the Ring in such places as Bombadil's house. This would seem to indicate that the Ring itself is attracting Frodo to it.
The biggest thing for me, though, is that his desire is not felt out of fear. As far as I can remember any time the Riders are nearby Frodo wants to put the Ring on out of fear; the event at the Inn seems more innocent, more natural, which to me would suggest that the Ring is working on Frodo's subconscious. Even Bilbo, when the Riders where who-knows-where (but nowhere near the Shire) would feel the urge to use the Ring.

Does this make sense or am I babbling? :P

Oh, also...
Q. 9, Aragorn's cynical attitude: I think his speech in these chapters is largely meant to convince Frodo he needs his help. This explains his harsh criticism of Frodo's actions so far. Is that what you were asking?

Q. 10, the Black Breath: If the Nazgul were intent only on finding the Ring, would the Black Breath be as strong as when the Nazgul were in battle, focusing on killing and destruction? My guess is the very thoughts of the Nazgul are the cause of the Black Breath, and the more sinister their thoughts the worse off those in their path. Does that sound cheezy?
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Postby gwynhvar » Fri Feb 10, 2006 8:27 pm

ElanorTheHobbit wrote:... This would seem to indicate that the Ring itself is attracting Frodo to it.
...which to me would suggest that the Ring is working on Frodo's subconscious. Even Bilbo, when the Riders where who-knows-where (but nowhere near the Shire) would feel the urge to use the Ring.


That was always my own interpretation - that the Ring itself was exerting an attraction. From the first, it seemed to me that Tolkien imbued the ring with a near-sentience. He also said (through Gandalf in "Shadow of the Past?") that Sauron had passed a great measure of his own power into the Ring when he created it. At the time he made the Ring, Sauron had great power to attract and enthrall. (However, I did not know that at first reading, come to think of it - I don't think that part of the tale has been told yet? It is very hard to try to come to this again as if at first reading, particularly since I've lent/given away all my copies again.)

I would only add that I had always thought - though I can't recall from which passage - that some of those present in the Inn were already in thrall to to Sauron, as was Bill Ferny, whether knowingly or not, and even though more likely indirectly through one of Sauron's servants. And that their presence may have made the Ring stronger. (This add-on however may also be an outcome of revelations later in the story.)

Certainly, my FIRST interpretation was that the Ring itself was influencing Frodo, attracting him to it, regardless of the presence of others.

ElanorTheHobbit wrote:Q. 10, the Black Breath: If the Nazgul were intent only on finding the Ring, would the Black Breath be as strong as when the Nazgul were in battle, focusing on killing and destruction? My guess is the very thoughts of the Nazgul are the cause of the Black Breath, and the more sinister their thoughts the worse off those in their path...


Again, my own take on the Black Breath was similar. It seemed to me that the Riders emmanated evil - and from whence could they but their "thoughts" since they don't have corporeal forms anymore?

The only distinction that I would draw from your interpretation is that I would say "the more focused" their thoughts on an individual the more powerful the effect of "the Black Breath." Because I see them as perpetually locked in a state of absolute evil without any incrementalism, utter, constant, similar to the state of the Fallen Angels in Hell.
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Postby IamMoose » Sat Feb 18, 2006 2:24 pm

Well it only said that Frodo wondered if the Ring had been playing a trick on him and responding to a call from within the room .. it didn't say it was definite. But I presumed that it came from one of the Southerners, the 'squint eyed half goblin' man who was with Bill Ferny and was undoubtedly in league with the riders.
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Postby rowanberry » Sun Feb 19, 2006 11:48 am

I believe that the Ring sensed either the presence of an ally in the Southerner (who was actually Saruman's spy, but would have aided the Ring greatly), or the approaching Ringwraiths, and urged Frodo to put it on. Although it seems that the Nazgûl couldn't feel the Ring even over fairly short distances when nobody was wearing it, they might have sensed it from afar when someone put it on.
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Postby IamMoose » Thu Mar 09, 2006 8:42 am

There was a suggestion somewhere, I think it was at Isengard but am not sure, that the SOutherner could have been working for BOTH Sauron and Saruman and cheating either, or both of them :). Probably he was working just for himself and for whatever advantage he could gain..
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Postby Maegnas » Fri Mar 24, 2006 6:28 pm

Actually, about this Southerner, it is said in UT that he was 'intercepted' by the Nazgul on their way to the Shire. The Witch-King had bestowed (or equipped) him with the Black Breath and sent him to Bree instead of the Shire after taking from him maps of the Shire. Maybe the Black Breath helped the Southerner 'influence' Frodo in wanting to put the Ring on (along of course with the Ring's own influence on Frodo).
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Postby IamMoose » Thu Mar 30, 2006 12:21 pm

So who WAS the Southerner working for? And who was he.. was he really 'half a goblin'?
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Postby rowanberry » Fri Mar 31, 2006 1:42 pm

In The Hunt for the Ring in Unfinished Tales it is told that, the Southerner, "a ruffianly fellow, an outlaw driven from Dunland, where many said that he had Orc-blood", originally worked for Saruman, but he was overtaken and scared witless by the Nazgûl. He saved his life by betraying Saruman, and was sent by the Witch-king to Bree to spy.
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Postby IamMoose » Thu Apr 06, 2006 1:37 pm

Hmm I wonder what happened to him in the end? I seem to remember him being driven out of the Shire. I suppose it's not siginficant but it would be interesting to know.

Why did the Witch King trust him, if he only betrayed Saruman under duress?
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Postby Maegnas » Fri Apr 07, 2006 10:15 am

I believe that the Wi-Ki trusted (as far as trust can be a matter here) him because he (the Wi-Ki) thought that Saruman wasn't as capable of imposing punishment as he was or because he was there at the time while Saruman was not! I don't think he trusted him that long to ever become a serious matter, he just used him while hunting for the Ring. Given the fact that the southerner was in the Shire when the Four Hobbits returned, I'd say the Wi-Ki trusted him long enough but surely not much!
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Postby rowanberry » Sat Apr 08, 2006 12:40 pm

IamMoose wrote:Why did the Witch King trust him, if he only betrayed Saruman under duress?


Simply, the Southerner obeyed the Witch King out of such a terror that guaranteed his loyalty to the Nazgûl.
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Postby IamMoose » Sun Apr 09, 2006 6:41 am

I suppose so. I am unsure as to what the Southerner actually was though -was he a half orc? If so did Saruman not specifically breed him? That would maybe have been enough to guarantee unquestioned loyalty to Saruman .. I am not sure.
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Postby ToshoftheWuffingas » Sun Mar 04, 2007 2:49 pm

A couple of small points: I notice there is an echo of the Bombadil chapter when the Bree-landers are said to belong to nobody but themselves.

I am puzzled by the Black Breath (other than the deplorable state of dentistry in Bree). It implies that at least one Nazgul is in Bree and that too would explain the compulsion upon Frodo to don the Ring. Yet the attack on their beds is usually credited to 'ruffians'. I presume the Nazgul was informed by a spy of the arrival in the Pony of the hobbits and was leaving Bree to fetch his horse, secreted outside the village, in order to ride and inform the Witch-King away down the Greenway.
Perhaps Strider's respect for the hobbits dates from Merry's willingness to follow a Nazgul!
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Postby Morwenna » Sun Apr 29, 2007 6:14 pm

The attack on the beds could have been the ruffians, but more likely the Nazgul; they're the ones who wanted the Ring. They wouldn't have gotten anyone else to do what they could more easily have done themselves. They may have been *visibly* incorporeal but they could affect what they handled (Claude Rains! :lol: ), and they wouldn't have wanted any slipups or double-crosses.

As for Merry's following the Nazgul, well, that's our boy! He may have been as naive as the rest of them regarding the danger they faced, but he wasn't careless, unlike Pippin. He was curious and deliberate, and working for the party as best he knew how.
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