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  1. Tony Meade

    Future study of Tolkien's books

    In light of the announcement of a new Tolkien book, the first of the post-CJRT era, I was wondering if there were plans to continue our pattern of studying a Tolkien book every other series beyond finishing the HOME series. For instance, we could do the later Middle-earth books, such as The...
  2. Tony Meade

    Episode 164 Summary

    SESSION 164 Alone on the pinnacle of Orthanc: How was Gandalf unaware of the change in the valley when he first arrived? Partly because it was dark when he arrived, but also because Saruman is likely employing deception. Note: In the film version, the timeline is compressed so that the change...
  3. Tony Meade

    Episode 163 Summary

    SESSION 163 Comment on the purpose of Saruman’s ring: There are multiple possibilities for the function of the ring that Saruman wears. These include enhancement of his native power of persuasion and defense against others’ domination of him. Part of Saruman’s purpose in wearing the ring...
  4. Tony Meade

    Episode 162 Summary

    SESSION 162 The mouths of emissaries sent from Mordor: Does Saruman expect that there was a chance that Gandalf would be convinced by his speech? If not, what is his intention by telling Gandalf this? To justify what he will do next? When has Gandalf heard these kinds of speeches before...
  5. Tony Meade

    Episode 161 Summary

    SESSION 161 Making a speech long rehearsed: There are flaws in Saruman’s performance of this speech that give his true intentions away. The use of the word “declaim” implies an impersonality and is usually done in front of a crowd. Saruman’s use of this mode of speech creates a cognitive...
  6. Tony Meade

    Episode 160 Summary

    SESSION 160 Saruman of Many Colours: Saruman seems to be saying that all the titles he gives for Radagast are synonyms, and therefore equivalent to the final one, which is a direct insult, and the slights move from implicit to explicit. The use of “the Simple” is an insulting pun, as Radagast...
  7. Tony Meade

    Episode 159 Summary

    SESSION 159 The gate closed silently behind: Gandalf has the insight that Orthanc would be good at holding one inside as keeping others out. Gandalf has no rational cause to fear Saruman, and he may have chided himself for feeling it. This is the second time involving Saruman that he has felt...
  8. Tony Meade

    Episode 158 Summary

    SESSION 158 A question of academic specialties: It’s reasonable for Gandalf to assume that the most certain way to oppose the Nine getting to Frodo is to work with Saruman, and so he should go to Isengard instead of the Shire. The description of Radagast is very close to things associated with...
  9. Tony Meade

    Episode 157 Summary

    SESSION 157 On the evolution of the Istari: While the idea of an order of wizards was mentioned in The Hobbit, it was only tangentially related to the main story, and was not part of Tolkien’s original conception. Gandalf was always meant to leave the Bilbo and the Dwarves behind, but it was...
  10. Tony Meade

    Episode 156 Summary

    SESSION 156 Gandalf addresses the Saruman question: Gandalf has already hinted at the story before and even Elrond hasn’t heard it all, so he is warning everyone in advance that he will tell the full story and it will take a long time. He also affirms Galdor’s earlier questions about Saruman’s...
  11. Tony Meade

    Episode 155 Summary

    SESSION 155 The Gollum conspiracy unmasked: Note: It’s possible that Tolkien did not work out the details of the plot to rescue Gollum, but he was also likely to have done this in an earlier draft and left out the details in his final version. It’s unlikely that Tolkien didn’t retcon this...
  12. Tony Meade

    Episode 154 Summary

    SESSION 154 Gandalf’s hope for Gollum’s cure: Though Aragorn had spoken of his pity for Gollum, when learning of his escape, he also emphasizes the threat that this poses for them. Gandalf was fully aware of this threat, and the need to keep him under guard, but his primary motivation is about...
  13. Tony Meade

    Update on the episode summaries!

    Hey all, I'm happy to announce that I have completed all the episode summaries for "Exploring The Lord of the Rings", up to the most recent session. This represents the end of an 18-month project into which I have invested about 600 hours of work, and I hope that we are able to take that raw...
  14. Tony Meade

    Episode 153 Summary

    SESSION 153 Comment on Gandalf’s translation of Black Speech: Gandalf would have had to choose between preserving the sense or the sound of the poem. Because of the difficulty in preserving the rhythmic structure from one language to another, its possible that Gandalf had to choose to leave...
  15. Tony Meade

    Episode 152 Summary

    SESSION 152 On the parallel between Black Speech and English: It’s unusual for poetry to scan and be stressed in the same way between two languages. This seems to point to the sound and rhythm of the Black Speech is more important to the power of the spell than the linguistic content or...
  16. Tony Meade

    Episode 151 Summary

    SESSION 151 Gandalf finally establishes provenance: It’s important to remember that it is not until Gandalf interviews Gollum that he finds out that the Ring extended his life far beyond its span, which could only come from a Great Ring. Bilbo is old, though he still looks young, but not...
  17. Tony Meade

    Episode 150 Summary

    SESSION 150 Comment on smiling characters: Aragorn is recorded in the text as smiling more than any other character, but it is possible that the narrator mentions them because they are remarkable, given Aragorn’s character. In the case of most of the characters, their smiles are described in...
  18. Tony Meade

    Episode 149 Summary

    SESSION 149 On Isildur as test case for the Ring: Isildur is one of only five cases of a mortal owning the Ring, and each of those is different. Like Bilbo and Gollum, he took up the Ring without knowing what it was, and like Gollum, he took it by slaying the former owner, thought the context...
  19. Tony Meade

    Episode 148 Summary

    SESSION 148 Comment on the timeline of the search for the Ring: Why did Gandalf let the matter drop after it was revealed that Bilbo had not been honest in his tale about the Ring and Gollum? It would be another three years before Gollum came out. Bilbo seemed fine, other than accounting for...
  20. Tony Meade

    Episode 147 Summary

    SESSION 147 A personality clash within the Council: Boromir reveals that he also knows much of the lore of Minas Tirith, though he may be wrong about this history being common knowledge in Gondor, or at least the details. Most people in Gondor may have some knowledge of the important or...
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