Dec. 12th, 2011

rymenhild: The legendary Oxford manuscript library. Caption "The world is quiet here." (The world is quiet here)
[Forgive crossposts; I posted something like this to FB.]

I am rereading The Lord of the Rings for the first time in eight years or so, now that the memory of the films has faded and I can enjoy the books as books again. Right now I am about halfway through Fellowship, and I am puzzled.

The Nazgul are immortal, ancient wraiths of mysterious and evil power. They can track Frodo by the smell of the Ring. They ride mortal horses, at least before the horses drown in the Bruinen.

Meanwhile, when Frodo, Sam, Merry and Pippin start their journey, they are almost entirely unaware of their danger. The hobbits go on foot, singing loudly. They eat frequent meals and take frequent naps. They are unarmed, unprotected and unafraid.

By this point, two Nazgul have entered the Shire itself, and are barely hours, if not minutes, behind our heroes. The Nazgul have horses. The hobbits don't. The Nazgul can smell the Ring. The hobbits can't track the Nazgul.

Gandalf has been trapped by Saruman. Aragorn is in Bree. Gildor and friends aren't immediately within the hobbits' reach. No one at all stands between the Nazgul and the hobbits. What I don't understand is, why don't the Nazgul capture Frodo and the Ring before Frodo ever leaves the Shire? As far as I can tell, there is no need for the remaining 2.5 volumes of The Lord of the Rings, because Frodo should have been lost by the middle of Fellowship Chapter 4. And then Sauron conquered the world. The end.

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rymenhild: Manuscript page from British Library MS Harley 913 (Default)
rymenhild

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