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Old 06-14-2020, 03:32 PM   #6
Wight of the Old Forest
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A Shadow in the Dark / In the House of the Past / The Knife of Tom Bombadil

Originally Posted by Boromir88 View Post
As far as favorite chapter in Fellowship of the Ring? I think it has to be The Shadow of the Past. It's that transition point from The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings. A Long-Expected Party it's still "Bilbo's ring" and Bilbo's story. The most troublesome thing seems to be the potential of bad weather during a party and meddlesome neighbors. In The Hobbit, it's not "The One Ring," it "Bilbo's magic Ring." A Long-Expected Party, while underneath the surface we feel there's more to the Ring, it's still "Bilbo's magic Ring." The Shadow of the Past is mostly dialogue between 2 characters, but we make that transition. It is no longer Bilbo's story, it's Frodo's, and this is "The One Ring."
Yep. Well put!

Originally Posted by Formendacil View Post
And Book I might be my favourite of the six books--if I can be said to have one.
I'd say that for FotR as a whole. No coincidence it''s the most worn volume of my old German boxed edition.

As for titles, I think the best have already been named. And rather than chapters, I'd rather give you some of my favourite passages:

Three is Company: first encounters with the Black Riders and Elves under the stars (since I hadn't read The Hobbit before LotR, Gildor & Co. were my first contact with Tolkien's Elves and, not to forget, their language):
Originally Posted by JRRT
Away high in the East swung Remmirath, the Netted Stars, and slowly above the mists red Borgil rose, glowing like a jewel of fire. Then by some shift of airs all the mist was drawn away like a veil, and there leaned up, as he climbed over the rim of the world, the Swordsman of the Sky, Menelvagor with his shining belt. The Elves all burst into song. Suddenly under the trees a fire sprang up with a red light.
A Short Cut to Mushrooms:
Originally Posted by JRRT
They stopped short suddenly. Frodo sprang to his feet. A long-drawn wail came down the wind, like the cry of some evil and lonely creature. It rose and fell, and ended on a high piercing note. Even as they sat and stood, as if suddenly frozen, it was answered by another cry, fainter and further off, but no less chilling to the blood. There was then a silence, broken only by the sound of the wind in the leaves.
Especially evil and lonely, the perfect counterpoint to the cameraderie of the hobbits in the rest of the chapter. Makes me appreciate even more Farmer Maggot's courage in standing up to the Black Rider later: that's a badass hobbit for ya!

The Old Forest:
All the buildup to our heroes being snared by Old Man Willow; the strangely active and resentful trees, the hot stifling air, how they keep losing their way and being herded towards the Withywindle against all efforts. Tom Bombadil's arrival comes as a relief but is a little jarring (I'm no big fan of Ring-a-ding-dillo either); he doesn't come into his own until the next chapter.

In the House of Tom Bombadil:
This is where Ol' Tom gets interesting - the enigma, the outlier, the non-combatant, self-contained Master of his circumscribed world, the Zen-master whose koans are silly verses. There's also Goldberry, whom I see as kind of a more accessible prefiguration of Galadriel:
Originally Posted by JRRT
'Fair lady Goldberry!' said Frodo at last, feeling his heart moved with anjoy that he didn not understand. He stood as he had at times stood enchanted by fair elven-voices; but the spell that was now laid upon him was different: less keen and less lofty was the delight, but deeper and nearer to mortal heart; marvellous and yet not strange.
Fog on the Barrow-Downs:
The whole chapter up to Tom's intervention is among the scariest stuff Tolkien has ever written, and I'm not sure anything we see in Moria or Mordor tops it.
Originally Posted by JRRT
Out of the east the biting wind was blowing. To his right there loomed against the westward stars a dark black shape. A great barrow stood there.'Where are you?' he cried again, both angry and afraid.
'Here!' said a voice , deep and old, that seemed to come out of the ground. 'I am waiting for you!'
'No!' said Frodo; but he did not run away. His knees gave, and he fell on the ground. Nothing happened, and there was no sound. Trembling he looked up, in time to see a tall dark figure like a shadow against the stars. It leaned over him. He thought there were two eyes, very cold though lit with a pale light that seemed to come from some remote distance. Then a grip stronger and colder than iron seized him. The icy touch froze his bones, and he remembered no more.
Also of course the Barrow-Wight's verse, which should by rights be our national anthem!

At the Sign of the Prancing Pony/Strider:
Some comical relief painted on a background of mounting danger, and a new character who will become central to the story, but nothing that stands out prose-wise in my memory.

A Knife in the Dark:
The first page and a half, where the Black Riders attack Crickhollow and are scared away by the Horn-call of Buckland. (Years ago I wrote a post about how the cock-crow and horns here prefigure the arrival of the Rohirrim at the Siege of Gondor; it's somewhere in Chapter-by-Chapter). I'm not sure the attack on Weathertop later tops this, but I love this from Strider:
Originally Posted by JRRT
They themselves do not see the world of light as we do, but our shapes cast shadows in their minds, which only the noon sun destroys; and in the dark they perceive many signs and forms that are hidden from us: then they are most to be feared. And at all times they smell the blood of living things, desiring and hating it.
Flight to the Ford: Everything from meeting Glorfindel to Frodo confronting the Riders at the ford and the flood sweeping them away, underpinned by the signs of Frodo fading, is riveting.
The wind began to blow steadily out of the West and pour the water of the distant seas on the dark heads of the hills in fine drenching rain. By nightfall they were all soaked, and their camp was cheerless [...] Frodo was restless. The cold and wet had made his wound more painful than ever, and the ache and sense of deadly chill took away all sleep. [...] He lay down again and passed into an uneasy dream, in which he walked on the grass of his garden in the Shire, but it seemed faint and dim, less clear than the tall black shadows that stood looking over the hedge.
(TBC, it's getting late)
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