FOTR Chapter 12: Flight to the Ford

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FOTR Chapter 12: Flight to the Ford

Postby pippinsqueak » Tue May 09, 2006 6:43 pm

Hello, everyone! Welcome to the discussion thread of chapter 11 of The Fellowship of the Ring! Welcome to all newcomers to this forum. Please sign in at the LOTR OOC thread and then post away! The more the merrier!

SUMMARY: FLIGHT TO THE FORD

Frodo wakes to find himself lying by the fire. Sam had stumbled upon him in the dark, and Aragorn had ordered him placed by the fire before disappearing without explanation. When the Ranger reappears Sam stands over Frodo with his sword drawn but Aragorn gently reassures him he is not in league with the Black Riders.

Aragorn has been unable to find the Black Riders, and is concerned to hear that one of them has stabbed Frodo. He tells Sam in private that the Black Riders believe they have inflicted a mortal wound on Frodo and have drawn off to wait for their purpose to be accomplished. Sam despairs and Aragorn reassures him that Frodo is made of stern stuff and can resist the evil power of the wound for longer than the Black Riders will expect. Aragorn leaves again.

A deadly chill spreads from Frodo’s shoulder to his arm and side during the night while his friends tend him. Strider returns at first light and finds on the ground both the Black Rider’s cloak with a slash in it where Frodo had stabbed him, and the dagger that stabbed Frodo. The blade vanishes like smoke in the morning light. Aragorn sings a slow song in a strange tongue over the dagger-hilt, and then speaks strange words over Frodo. Finally he boils Athelas leaves, which he travelled far in the night to collect, and bathes Frodo’s wound. Athelas is a healing plant the Men of the West brought to Middle-Earth. The cold and pain in Frodo’s side lessens but he still cannot use his arm. He reproaches himself for having put on the Ring, which he now understands was the commanding wish of the Black Riders.

Aragorn believes that the Black Riders have been watching Weathertop for days and must have driven Gandalf away if he had come before them. He decides they must leave as they will be in great peril after dark. Frodo is put on the pony and the pony’s burden is divided among the four who will walk. They travel south and come in time to the edge of the Road. Though they cannot see Black Riders far away they hear one call and another answer. They cross the Road and carry on cross-country through the pathless terrain. Frodo is grieved to see the burdens and fatigue of the four walkers. He does not speak of his returning pain.

They continue like this for 4 days, keeping watch by pairs at night, but never seeing a sign of the Black Riders, nor feeling their presence. On the fifth day they turn north-eastwards, and on the sixth they come within sight of the Road again, the River Hoarwell, that flows out of the Ettenmoors, and further off the Loudwater (the Bruinen of Rivendell).

When they reach the Road the next day there is no sign of travellers or riders, though rainfall two days previous would have washed away any earlier signs. Further on they reach the Last Bridge over the Hoarwell. Strider goes ahead to explore it and finds a beryl, or elf stone, in the middle of the bridge. He takes this as a token that they may pass over the bridge. They cross safely and travel into lands that seem threatening and unfriendly, with hills rising steadily about them upon which they can glimpse ancient walls of stone and ruins of towers. Frodo guesses they are in the same country Bilbo passed through near the Troll’s wood.

Aragorn tells them that ages ago the land was occupied by Men who fell under the shadow of Angmar and became evil. None now remain. These tales are remembered by heirs of Elendil. He tells Frodo he once dwelt in Rivendell, where his heart is, and to which he returns from time to time, though it is not his fate to sit in peace.

Wearily they travel on through a long valley with rough terrain and on the second day a drenching rain begins and continues. On the third night, shelterless, wet and cold Frodo sleeps fitfully, feeling as if black shapes are advancing on him. He dreams of the garden of Bag End, but the Black Shapes are clearer than the Shire to him.

Next day the weather clears. Aragorn goes ahead to explore and returns with the news that they have gone too far north and must bear southwards or wind up in the Etttendales – troll country. Near the end of their journey that day Frodo is obliged to dismount when they climb a steep hill. He is so exhausted at the top that Merry expresses his anxiety to Aragorn and asks if Frodo can be cured in Rivendell. Aragorn is equivocal and Sam asks why Frodo is still so ill when his wound has healed. Aragorn tells him some poison or evil is at work that he is unable to drive out, but exhorts Sam not to give up hope.

That night Frodo in a half-dream imagines dark wings sweeping above him carrying pursuers who seek him in the hollows of the hills.

The morning dawns bright and clear. Strider decides they must now make for the Road again. The way down the hill is less steep and Frodo can again ride Bill the Pony. Though he feels better in the morning light a mist passes before his eyes every now and again. They come upon a path and follow it into dark woods where they find a door crookedly ajar at the opening of a rock-chamber. Merry and Aragorn go in. It is a troll-hole. Pippin has been frightened and when they carry on he goes ahead with Merry to show he is no longer afraid. Soon he runs back, with Merry close behind, announcing they have come upon trolls. Aragorn leads them onward without concern, comes upon three trolls and breaks his stick upon one to show it has long been turned to stone. These are the three trolls of Bilbo’s adventures. Frodo is heartened to be reminded of Bilbo’s first successful adventure. They stop for lunch, Merry calls for a song and Sam obliges with one about trolls that Frodo guesses (when Sam won’t say) is of his own making.

Carrying on they come upon the stone with runes on it marking the spot where Bilbo hid the trolls’ gold and Frodo wishes Bilbo had brought home a treasure no more perilous.

Near nightfall they hear the sound of hoofs behind them and hide in the bushes. A rider on a white horse appears and is greeted with joy by Strider. He is Glorfindel, an Elf-lord of the house of Elrond, sent from Rivendell, along with others, to search for them. He tells them that he left the stone on the Bridge of Mitheithel, that there are five riders behind them and they must risk the peril of the Road.

Frodo sways with pain and weariness and Sam angrily tells Glorfindel that his master must rest. Aragorn tells Glorfindel of the attack on Frodo and the elf urges them even more strongly to carry on. He puts Frodo on his horse, the pony is laden with the others’ burdens and they continue, with Frodo riding in a dark dream. At dawn they stop and the hobbits sleep until far into the morning. Glorfindel gives them an invigorating draft of a liquor and they carry on, covering almost 20 miles before nightfall, without sight or sound of pursuit. The hobbits are dizzy with weariness and Frodo’s perception of things is reduced to shadows of ghostly grey.

In the late afternoon of the next day they hear many footfalls behind them just as the Road opens up to reveal the Ford of Rivendell ahead across a long flat mile. Glorfindel listens to the following sound and cries out to Frodo to ‘Fly! The enemy is upon us.’ Hobbits, elf and man follow.

Half way across the flat 5 riders emerge from the trees the travellers had just left. Glorfindel urges Frodo on but he hesitates, feeling a strange reluctanc. The elf commands his horse on and it carries Frodo away with the 5 Riders in pursuit and others maneuvering ahead to cut off his escape across the River. Frodo hears their fell voices calling to him. The horse carries him across the River and stops at the top of the bank. Nine Black Riders are at the River below. Frodo feels it is useless to try to escape, and that he has been commanded to stop. The foremost Rider spurs his horse to the river’s edge. Weakly Frodo tells them to go back, and they laugh at him, saying they will take him to Mordor and calling for the Ring.

Frodo lifts his sword and utters the names of Elbereth and Luthien. The leader raises his hand, striking the hobbit dumb. Then the river rises and carries away the three riders who are crossing it. The others draw back in dismay and Frodo sees a shining figure in white light and small shadowy forms waving flames running at them and driving them back into the River. Frodo falls from the horse in a faint.
Last edited by pippinsqueak on Fri May 26, 2006 10:33 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby pippinsqueak » Tue May 09, 2006 6:51 pm

Questions (such as they are :roll: )


1. After the Black Riders make their attack at Amon Hen Aragorn concludes they have been watching it for many days and may have attacked Gandalf there. Why would he lead the hobbits to such an obvious – and thus, dangerous - meeting place?

2. Comment on the similarities and differences in Bilbo’s adventures in this ‘neck of the woods’ and Frodo’s.

3. Can someone provide a summary of the history of Angmar?

4. What is the significance of Luthien and Elbereth? Why would uttering their names provide protection to Frodo?

5. Can someone provide a brief biography of Glorfindel?
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Postby rowanberry » Wed May 10, 2006 10:39 am

Thank you for taking up this chapter, Pippinsqueak. :) And, the questions aren't bad at all.

And, to get the ball rolling:

5. Can someone provide a brief biography of Glorfindel?

This is based on Tolkien's quite late decision that, Glorfindel of Gondolin and Glorfindel of Rivendell were the same person (HoME 12, "Glorfindel" in Last Writings):

Glorfindel was probably born in Aman during the Years of the Trees (at least, I see this option most probable). His parentage is not known, but apparently he was nobility; he was a Noldorin elf, although his hair colour indicates that he probably had Vanyarin blood. When Fëanor urged the Noldor to rebel and leave Aman for Middle-earth, Glorfindel also went, but played no part in the Kinslaying of Alqualondë and stealing the ships of the Teleri. He was with the host of Fingolfin, whom the Fëanorians left to cross to Middle-earth over the ice of Helcaraxë; in Middle-earth, he followed Fingolfin's son Turgon, and settled with his people first in Vinyamar and later in Gondolin, where he was the lord of the House of the Golden Flower. He died in the Fall of Gondolin, fighting a Balrog to make it possible for others to escape.

His spirit spent a time in the Halls of Mandos, and was re-embodied after a relatively short time, after which he dwelt in the Blessed Realm, until he was sent back to Middle-earth to help in the battle against Sauron. He returned most probably in the Second Age, and served Gil-galad; in the Third Age, he dwelt in Rivendell, and after the War of the Ring, he sailed into the West with Elrond's company.
Last edited by rowanberry on Fri May 12, 2006 10:48 am, edited 1 time in total.
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Postby Nadreck_of_Palain7 » Thu May 11, 2006 8:05 pm

4. What is the significance of Luthien and Elbereth? Why would uttering their names provide protection to Frodo?


While Frodo knew more about Elves than most hobbits, he probably only had a scanty knowledge about the history of the Elves, or about the Valar. He must of been aware of the many Elven songs that invoked Elbereth. Remember he identified Gildor's company as High Elves because they mentioned Elbereth. Frodo hoped that the name the Elves called on might help him. Frodo had just learned about Luthien earlier in the journey (in Aragorn's song of Beren and Luthien), and must have hoped that invoking a legendary Elven name would bring some of the courage and will of the Elves to him to resist the will of the Nazgul.
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Postby rowanberry » Fri May 12, 2006 10:57 am

That may well be why Frodo uttered those names. But also, Elbereth (Varda), Lady of the Stars, was a Vala that even Morgoth had feared so, the Nazgûl certainly shunned her name as well.
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Postby IamMoose » Thu May 18, 2006 1:48 pm

I would have suggested that Frodo's belief, conscious or otherwise, that the name would work against the Riders would have leant weight to it but that said, Strider himself later said that the name of Elbereth specifically was deadly to them and so it's probably not just Frodo's belief.
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Postby Maegnas » Fri May 19, 2006 3:19 pm

About Frodo evoking Elbereth's name, here's my two cents...

In Tolkien's work, and other works of fiction similar to them, the name of something/someone has almost magical power, it's avery important part of what/who that is. Remember, the Dwarves never revealed their "true" names, as if they would be hurt in doing so! In a name lies the history, essense, strengths and weaknesses of the bearer of said name (as told by Treebeard to Merry and Pippin). Elbereth of course, as a Vala, had no weaknesses, at least none that would avail a mortal or an undead Nazgul. Evoking her name was more or less like calling her to stand by you and assist you. When she kindled the Stars for the first time even Morgoth trembled and hid out of fear of her. All his servants, and his servants' servants are included, "inherited" that sense of fear of her. Even the mention of her name was enough to turn them to run and hide.
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Postby Nadreck_of_Palain7 » Fri May 19, 2006 4:12 pm

Even the mention of her name was enough to turn them to run and hide.


Except that the Nazgul did not run away, instead the Lord of the Nazgul was able to disable Frodo and break his sword with some sort of evil power. Frodo was about to be captured when the flood washed the Nazgul away. The name by itself was not enough to turn them away. I think that Frodo was just trying to strengthen his own will to resist, but was not strong enough to hold out against the Nazgul.
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Postby Maegnas » Sat May 20, 2006 4:46 pm

At the Fords of Bruinen yes, it was not enough. At Weathertop it was somewhat stronger though. If this wasn't the case would Aragorn say that it was "more lethal" to the Wi-Ki than Frodo's sword? At the Fords, Frodo was almost a wraith himself, his resillience much weaker so he needed every help he could get to stand his ground.
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Postby starlin » Wed May 24, 2006 12:28 pm

A quick addition to the name-discussion, sometimes names and words come out even if they are unknown to the speaker. They were known to Frodo, yes, but I vaguelly recall some instance when someone (Frodo? Sam?) used an elvish phrase without really knowing what they said and why they said it (or is it still the movie influence to me?.) So the 'magic' of the name, to use that awkward word, is also that it works on its own. Sometimes the speaker is the tool of the word, not the other way round. Which of course brings us to the question whether there is someone behind that word. The speaker being the tool of the word, the word being the tool of someone else... A bit confusing, I know, yet interesting.
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Postby Maegnas » Mon Jun 05, 2006 3:20 pm

I think it was right after Frodo was captured in Cirith Ungol, Sam uttered some words in Elvish (cannot remember what they were right now) even though he couldn't speak the language (Quenya maybe?).
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Postby rowanberry » Tue Jun 06, 2006 10:29 am

Sam cries "Gilthoniel, A Elbereth!" when he and Frodo are trying to get out past the Watchers at the gate of the tower, remembering Gildor's company whose song drove the Black Rider away. But, here we have the name of Elbereth again used against the dark powers.
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Postby IamMoose » Wed Jun 14, 2006 11:54 am

Sam shouted those words when he was being confronted by Shelob if I remember correctly, though I might not. I'd never before considered that Frodo once managed to use the name of Elbereth to repel the Riders but at the Ford it didn't work.. I wonder why that was? Maybe because the first time he wasn't expecting it to work but the second time he was?
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Postby rowanberry » Thu Jun 15, 2006 10:10 am

When Sam confronted Shelob, and when he and Frodo were getting out of the tower of Cirith Ungol, they also had the phial of Galadriel at hand, which seems to have strengthened the effect of Elbereth's name. At the Ford, the phial wasn't there yet. That might be one reason.
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Postby Maegnas » Mon Jun 19, 2006 7:02 am

Or another reason could be that at the Ford of Bruinen Frodo was practically in Elrond's land and under his protection so there was no need for a "divine intervention" like there was in Amon Sul. Of course the Wi-Ki breaks Frodo's sword and renders him mute but that's all he can do. We can say that the Wi-Ki was 'playing his aces' there because if Frodo escaped there would be no easy way of claiming him (and the Ring) from Rivendell, so he gave whatever he had at the time. Later, in the Siege of Gondor, I don't think the name of Elbereth would do him much harm as he was given a far superior demonic force, needed to lead armies in war.
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Postby Arvegil » Fri Jun 23, 2006 10:11 pm

5. Can someone provide a brief biography of Glorfindel?


There is an essay in The Peoples of Middle-Earth on Glorfindel. Tolkien suggests that he might actually be very strongly connected to Gandalf, and that he returned to Middle-Earth with him.
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Postby ~WyrtWif~ » Thu Jul 20, 2006 3:52 pm

pippinsqueak wrote:
1. After the Black Riders make their attack at Amon Hen Aragorn concludes they have been watching it for many days and may have attacked Gandalf there. Why would he lead the hobbits to such an obvious – and thus, dangerous - meeting place?


Strider's intent is to firstly gain information. This is the common lookout for all travellers this way, because it commands such a wide view of the area. The party needs to have as much information as possible regarding the path ahead. Although, I admit some skepticsm and suspicion of Strider, wondering if he weren't leading them to some trap, the first time I read the story.

pippinsqueak wrote:2. Comment on the similarities and differences in Bilbo’s adventures in this ‘neck of the woods’ and Frodo’s.


While this is the first mortal peril in both stories, Bilbo's had more of a humour to it - the funny clumsy trolls, Bilbo's bungled burgling job getting them into a pickle, everything seems more light-hearted than truly perilous. Because of Frodo's wound and the recent proximity of the Black Riders, and the darker prose, the sense of danger is much more intense.



The other questions (3,4,5) I am not familiar with the history well enough to address. thank you to the others who have! I did not realize Glorfindel had such a lengthy history nor that he was so old.



Regarding why the Witch-King was able to strike Frodo dumb this time, and break his sword, Frodo was weakening with the wound. His vision was dimming, he had already almost yielded to the Nazgul's silent command to stay, he had not the physical strength to resist - his will was waning. I imagine his words this time were weaker, half-hearted even, as he was desperate and losing faith in his power to fight the Riders. At Weathertop it seems he spoke with more force and conviction - his spirit was strong - and his strength of spirit invoking the name was thus much more frightening to the Riders at Weathertop.

Also at Weathertop, Frodo had the element of surprise: the Riders would not expect him to invoke the name of their hated enemy, but rather they expected he would trust in the power of the Ring, which would be his very undoing. He surprised them. This time, it seemed they were expecting it.


My own thoughts:
Later, again Frodo dreams, this time of winged pursuers. "Endless dark wings were sweeping by above him, and that on the wings rode pursuers..." Although we've seen mention of some birds being evil spies, and looking nervously at the sky when Strider mentions this fact, this seems to be the first reference to the winged Nazgul. This again seems prophetic.... Or... perhaps... does carrying the ring reveal visions of Sauron's plans to Frodo? Give him insight into the mind of Sauron?

I love that Merry observes regarding Sam "there is more stored in your head than you let on about." I hadn't noticed this prior to the discussion a couple of chapters back about Sam's importance in the story and hidden strengths, and being Tolkien's favorite.

Again noting the quality of Tolkien's prose, in Frodo's earlier dream (prior to finding the Trolls), contrasting his beloved Shire to "the tall black shadows that stood looking over the hedge" is very effective in raising the ominous feeling here.

One more interesting item I had not noticed before: we learn that Bilbo gave all the gold away he had obtained from the troll cave since he felt it did not belong to him. Another of Tolkien's side lessons in morality. :)
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Postby Arail Fordorthien » Tue Jul 03, 2007 2:48 pm

Well, I don't know if this thread is dead (might very well be the case), but just thought I'd pop in and give a comment on the whole "uttering unknown words" thingy. If memory serves, the biggest portion of this takes place in Sam's invocation in Cirith Ungol, namely his plea to Elbereth: A Elbereth Gilthoniel o menel palan-diriel, le nallon sí di-nguruthos! A tiro nin, Fanuilos!
That's quite a long utterance for someone who, to the best of my knowings, has little to no knowledge of the language! (Even though he might have gotten some hints from 'A Elbereth Gilthoniel' while in Imladris...)
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Postby Morwenna » Fri Jul 27, 2007 7:15 pm

Sam probably heard the whole thing while in Rivendell, and possibly Lothlorien as well, but he wouldn't have had cause to memorize it. But there is a strong element of "outside inspiration," causing him to remember it in order to chant it when needed. There is more at work here than ordinary memory.
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