Standing beside the tomb of Balin, the Fellowship read in mounting horror of the demise of the son of Fundin’s attempt to retake Moria. The final page of the record, hastily scrawled, is terrifying in its vagueness.
“We cannot get out . . . drums in the deep . . . They are coming.”
This weekend, Hall of Fire resumes its Fellowship of the Ring read-through and we’ll delve into one of the most dramatic chapters of Book Two.
FoTR Book II Chapter V: The Bridge of Khazad-dûm
A drum suddenly booms in the darness. Footsteps approach. The company has lingered overlong in the Chamber of Marzabul. After repelling a small horde of orcs in a fierce battle, they barely escape with their lives.
Flame fills Moria’s lower levels, and as the company flees the Second Hall across the narrow bridge that leads to the East Gate, a spectre of fire and darkness emerges from the shadows to challenge them. It is a Balrog, a captain of the original Dark Lord and a powerful demon of the ancient world.
For many, this is a favourite chapter. How does the uncertainty of the previous chapter, Journey in the Dark, figure in this tension? What devices does Tolkien deploy that keep the reader on edge? And how does the chapter’s climax affect us as readers?
At a different level, how does this change the Quest? What is it that really draws the attention of the orcs on the Company? Is it Pippin, Gollum, or just bad luck?
Plus, of course, there’s always those pesky, ambiguously worded “wings” to discuss.
Join us tomorrow (Saturday, June 30) at 6.00pm ET (New York time), when we’ll discuss all this and much more as we continue our Fellowship of the Ring read-through!
The Balrog by Ted Nasmith.
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