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Freodom: Let's Read Tolkien 39: Farewell to Lórien

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That night the Company was again summoned to the chamber of Celeborn, and there the Lord and Lady greeted them with fair words. Celeborn and Galadriel tell the Fellowship that it's about time they cleared out, and offer each of them the choice of heading onward or going back home. It's a good point: in War of the Ring , this can be a good moment to split off some companions from the Fellowship, especially if you've got an event card like There and Back Again. This time, however, everyone stays with the Company. But where will they go? The Great River, Anduin, flows south past Lórien: on its west bank is Minas Tirith, Boromir's home; to the east, Mordor and the Cracks of Doom. Boromir is for Gondor, but no-one else can decide. Celeborn saves them from their dilemma by offering to give them boats, which the Fellowship gladly accept. On their last night in Lórien, they briefly debate the road ahead. Most of the Company want to go to Minas Tirith, where they could at least be safe for a while. This was also Aragorn's original plan, but with Gandalf gone, he doesn't know what to do, and Frodo doesn't say anything. Boromir almost straight up says that it's madness to throw away the Ring by going to Mordor, but checks himself. The debate adjourns, with nothing decided. The next day, the Companions are given lembas , elven waybread, and hooded cloaks woven by Galadriel and her maidens. They head southeast, to the shores of the Great River, where they practice boating and, to Sam's delight, receive a gift of elven ropes. After a song and a ceremonial meal with Celeborn and Galadriel, the first lays out their options on the trip to come. The River flows through barren lands until it comes to Tol Brandir and the falls of Rauros. To the west of there is the way to Minas Tirith, where Celeborn warns against venturing into the forest of Fangorn. To the east of Rauros are the Dead Marshes, and Mordor. Finally, Galadriel gives them all gifts. Aragorn gets a sheath for his sword and a special green stone; Merry and Pippin get silver belts with golden clasps. Sam the gardener gets a box of earth from Galadriel's orchard, Legolas a bow and Boromir a golden belt. She asks Gimli what he wants as a gift, and Gimli says that seeing her has been gift enough. When pressed, he requests a lock of her hair, to be treasured as an heirloom of his house. He gets his wish, and finally Frodo is presented with a phial of water, which will give him light in dark places. After this ceremony of gifts, the Fellowship get in their boats and leave. They seem to perceive Lórien floating away from them, and after one last song by Galadriel, it's gone, and the Fellowship ride the river into the barren, brown lands. ** This is kind of a brief chapter, very focused on the road ahead. After a breather of sorts in Lórien, the Fellowship has to move on, but it's become painfully obvious that no-one really knows where. Maybe Gandalf had a plan, maybe he didn't; at any rate, he never told anyone, which isn't great leadership. Maybe he was planning to use the Eagles. Who knows? For now, the boats provided by Celeborn and Galadriel postpone the decision, but the choice is clear: Minas Tirith or Mordor. Boromir is beginning to speak his doubts, Aragorn is indecisive and no-one else is saying anything. The stage is being set for the end of the first volume. Also, Lórien is truly Faerie here: rather than the Fellowship boating away from it, Lórien withdraws from them, and leaves them weeping in the desert of the real. We've had epic river crossings before, but this is kind of an epic river navigation, leaving Faerie behind and drifting down the river of time. Next time: boating.

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