October 05, 2005

Your Daily Dose of Tolkien Geekery

Gary posts today on FOTR, Book 2, Chapter 5 - The Bridge of Khazad-Dum.

I think Gary is right that this is the chapter where, after gradually transitioning from a narrow, Shire-based point of view to that of greater Middle Earth and building up a solid strategic exposition with the Rivendell chapters, the story really goes into epic high gear. It is a terribly exciting chapter. And, of course, there being a lot of action, this part of the book is much more easily adapted to the screen (although I think Jackson wastes too much time on the troll and on cheap dwarf-tossing jokes).

Gary's post includes a discussion (and an informational link) of the Balrog. I agree with Gary that the Balrog actually did have wings, but they obviously couldn't have been air-worthy, or else the Balrog would not have tumbled into the gulf after Gandalf destroyed the bridge. (The same holds true regarding the means of its eventual destruction.)

As to the loss of Gandalf himself at this point, it certainly is a shocking moment the first time through. Gary mentioned in his previous post Aragorn's warning to Gandalf not to go into the Mines. But I've never been certain about how much Aragorn actually knew of the threat that waited there, whether it was a general fear or a specific one. Aragorn had been in Moria before, so he might have spotted the Balrog previously. However, in Lothlorien it seems that he did not know exactly what the Balrog was other than some "ancient evil". And how he might have known the threat this evil posed specifically to Gandalf remains a bit of a question. Gary suggests that this episode is really more of a manifestation of Aragorn's hesitancy over having to take the burden on his own shoulders, but I don't know.

Posted by Robert at October 5, 2005 10:44 AM | TrackBack

I always figured that since Aragorn was as well-travelled as he was and familiar with the history of Middle-Earth that he would have learned at least of the destruction of the Dwarf civilization in Moria by some "evil", and that he suspected that it might be something so powerful as to be more than a match for even Gandalf. Who knows he may have even heard rumors.

As to the flightless Balrog theory, I've heard some complain that if the Maiar spirit could choose what form it took in Middle-Earth, then why have wings that are non-functional. I'll tell you why - because they're kick-ass looking. Why make itself riddled with fire? So it could be cozy on those cold winter nights up in the bowels of Thangorodrim? Hell no, because it's scary. My favorite illustrations are the Balrog have him with wings that are very diaphanous, almost transparent (like John Howe's drawings). Seeing those babies spread out as he comes toward you is sure to induce a massive fudging of the boxers!

Posted by: Gary at October 5, 2005 12:22 PM