Starting this coming weekend, Saturday March 17 at 6.00pm EDT, Hall of Fire is embarking on a chapter-by-chapter discussion of Fellowship of The Ring.

Whether you’re a first-time reader of Tolkien, a first-time chatter who’s never visited before, or an experienced hand who was with us when we began our first read-through back in 2001, we’d love you to join us. (Be prepared for a few spoilers along the way, though!)

FoTR Book 1, Chapter 1: A Long-Expected Party.

“It will have to be paid for,” they said. “It isn’t natural and trouble will come it!”

It’s a different Bilbo Baggins that we meet at the beginning of FoTR. Old yet remarkably well-preserved. Wealthy, yet extremely generous. And by the conservative standards of Hobbits, rather eccentric.

When Bilbo announces he is throwing a grand party for his “eleventy-first” birthday, everyone in the Shire takes interest. Everyone is invited. All of Hobbiton has a fine time eating, drinking, and watching Gandalf’s spectacular fireworks — at least until Bilbo stages a grand disappearing act.

How does this far-older Bilbo we meet contrast against the happy-go-lucky individual of The Hobbit? How has he changed? Is he actually more erratic, more nervous? And if he is, how much is Tookish eccentricity, and how much might be the influence of The Ring that takes on an increasing air of menace and meaning as the chapter develops?

And what of Gandalf? What do we learn about the mysterious wizard of The Hobbit? Does he seem menacing as he convinces Bilbo to surrender the Ring, or genuinely concerned? And is Gandalf himself being tempted here?

Join us on Saturday (New York time) when we’ll discuss all this and much more as we start our Fellowship read-through!

Time zone conversions

Not sure what time the chat will be where you are? Check this little conversion table out for some help. Alternatively, head to Time and Date and use their Worldclock.

6.00pm EDT (New York)
5.00pm CDT (Chicago)
4.00pm MDT (Denver)
3.00pm PDT (Los Angeles)

10.00pm GMT (London)
11.00pm CET (Paris)
Midnight EET (Helsinki)

8.00am AEST (Sunday) Brisbane,
9.00am AEDT (Sunday) Sydney, Melbourne
11.00am NZDT (Sunday) Wellington

How long do your topic chats go for?

Our chats usually last 45 mins to an hour, and are very newbie friendly. Simply drop in and join the conversation! However, our main room, “ is open 24 hours a day. We don’t always talk Tolkien there, but if you have a burning question, you’ll usually find one or two of “the regulars” up for a chat!

Where — connection details

Chat happens on #thehalloffire on — the TORn IRC server. You can connect instantly via our embedded Mibbit client that works inside your web browser.

Alternatively, you can install a dedicated chat program such as mIRC on your computer and just plug in the following connection details.

Port: 6667
Channel: #thehalloffire