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Let's Read Tolkien 58: The Forbidden Pool

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Frodo woke to find Faramir bending over him. Faramir's men have spotted Gollum fishing in the pool below the waterfall. Faramir asks Frodo what he would have them do with the creature, and Frodo asks them to not kill him. Instead, he helps Faramir's men capture Gollum, who is then brought before Faramir for questioning. The interrogation is fruitless, but Faramir extracts an oath from Gollum to never return to their refuge or speak of it to anyone. He then releases Gollum into Frodo's care, and grants Frodo the liberty of Gondor. Faramir demands Gollum reveal where he's taking Frodo and Sam, and names the place as Cirith Ungol. Gollum doesn't deny this, and is sent away. Faramir tries to persuade Frodo to leave Gollum, and especially to avoid Cirith Ungol, but Frodo argues he has no choice, and Faramir can't offer any better ideas. With a final warning about Gollum's duplicity, Faramir bids Frodo farewell. ** When the fellowship was in Lórien , it was already obvious that they didn't really know where they were going. If Gandalf had a plan for getting into Mordor, he never told anyone. Aragorn, by his own account, had been to the Morgul Vale and possibly beyond, but he never seemed to have a clear idea either. So it's hardly surprising that Frodo has very little idea how to go about getting into Mordor, and although Faramir tries to dissuade him from Cirith Ungol, he doesn't have a better alternative. So maybe Aragorn's indecisiveness was in part because nobody actually had any freaking idea how to get into Mordor at all? Perhaps not even Gandalf. There might be old maps or drawings of the fortifications built to guard Mordor in the archives of Minas Tirith, but if Gandalf ever found them, apparently he didn't tell anyone. I've been critical of Aragorn's leadership, but the really unforgivable lapse seems to be Gandalf's, either in not figuring out a fairly key part of the whole project beforehand, or not telling anyone what his plan was. Had Gollum not shown up and been succesfully pressed into service by Frodo, is there any way the quest of the Ring ends in anything except disaster? The most likely scenario would see the hobbits captured; the best possible case would probably have involved the Ring falling into some obscure crevasse of the Mountains of Shadow. If someone at some point had a better plan, we know nothing of it. ** Next time: rambling.

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