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Let's Read Tolkien 61: Shelob's Lair

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It may indeed have been daytime now, as Gollum said, but the hobbits could see little difference, unless, perhaps, the heavy sky above was less utterly black, more like a great roof of smoke; while instead of the darkness of deep night, which lingered still in cracks and holes, a grey blurring shadow shrouded the stony world about them. ** Gollum leads Frodo and Sam deeper into the Ephel Dúath, and into a horrible-smelling cave, where he vanishes. It quickly becomes obvious that this is a trap, but Sam remembers the phial of Galadriel. Its light reveals two monstrous eyes, and Frodo has a Bilbo moment when he draws his sword and actually advances on the eyes. They withdraw, and the hobbits manage to escape the tunnels. To no avail: the giant spider Shelob, whose lair Gollum had led the hobbits to, ambushes Frodo outside. As Sam tries to help his master, Gollum attacks him. Sam drives Gollum off, but is too late to help Frodo; the chapter closes with Sam running desperately toward where he saw Shelob attack him. ** It's spiders again; Bilbo met them in Mirkwood , although that was a lot less terrifying, and now his heir also has a spider experience. This is a fairly straightforward action chapter, and I think it's worth pointing out that it's quite well written. The foulness of the spider's lair is palpable, and Tolkien doesn't just get away with dropping a fairly hefty block of exposition in the middle of the hobbits' flight from Shelob, but it enhances the sense of horror: this isn't just some random monster, but an evil from ancient times who's been here longer than Sauron. Thinking back to the Watcher in the Water outside Moria, and indeed even Gollum in the goblins' caves in the Misty Mountains, maybe it's a common habit of bad guys in Middle-earth to have monsters hang around the vicinity of their lair. This would support the idea that the Sirrion was dammed and the Watcher somehow coerced up from whatever depths of Moria it was from by the Balrog, or maybe even the orcs themselves. Saruman didn't have a monster at Isengard, which just shows what a newbie he was at this evil overlord thing. Bizarrely, Middle-earth: Shadow of War saw fit to depict Shelob as a beautiful woman , which is moderately difficult to understand after re-reading this chapter. Next time: Sam meets some orcs.

Avainsanat: tolkien literature let's read fantasy write world woman whose whatever war understand they sword spider somehow some sky sense saw sauron sam running random monster moment misty longer like light led late it idea horror heavy grey frodo fit eyes experience evil escape earth difficult difference deep darkness common by black bilbo beatiful bad attack action


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