LOTR--The Books This Time--Mordor

So far, I have covered Galadriel, Boromir, Orcs, Fatty Bolger and others, poetry, war, the Ring, and Frodo.

I now turn to Mordor. 


Some of the most impressive passages in the books involve Sam and Frodo's trek across Mordor. The description is gripping, suspenseful, and fairly gut-wrenching. It is also utterly modern.

Tolkien wields language with terrible exactness. High people speak in high romantic language. Low people speak in the vernacular. Saruman and his orcs speak like politicians and mobsters.

The chapters covering Sam and Frodo's trek are the most modern-sounding of all the chapters. The writing is steady, remorseless, and completely free of romance. Tolkien employs almost no tell--lots and lots of show. And the journey seems endless: a trudging, terrible march that both hobbits continue out of loyalty to a promise rather than any great belief in the journey's outcome.

It is, in fact, the most heroic part of the novel.

Sam's Most Heroic Moment--Closely
paired with his decision to
give up the ring.
As discussed in the next post, Frodo does not finish the quest with a noble act; he doesn't get rid of the ring. However, Tolkien's chapters make clear that Frodo and Sam's true heroism here is in the trek--their unstopping endurance. Nothing else in the books is so closely detailed. Nothing else in the books is so minutely followed. The Riders ride. Gandalf dashes about. Aragorn makes kingly appearances. People fight. Stewards kill themselves. And all the while, two hobbits slowly, inexorably make their way to Mount Doom.

It's mind-blowing.

Tolkien also clarifies a point that the movie (by necessity) brushes past. When entering Mordor, both Sam and Frodo ponder its desolation, remarking that it isn't much of a civilization. Tolkien as narrator explains that neither Sam or Frodo can see (1) Mordor actually does have towns and businesses, even fresh water and some food production (to the southeast); (2) Mordor receives a  tribute from lands held under its dominion; these goods come up from the south on roads far beyond Mount Doom. (Mordor is really big.)

In later posts, I will address the ending at Mount Doom as well as the eagles--yup, I'm going to discuss the eagles!

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