Episode 173 Summary

Tony Meade

Active Member

By a long hard road:
  • Note: There is a discrepancy among editions in the length of time after Weathertop that it took Gandalf to reach Rivendell. Earlier editions have it as fourteen days, and later ones as fifteen days. This may have been changed in the 50th anniversary edition by Hammond and Scull. These kinds of corrections are controversial as they are not supported by original manuscripts, but rather emending perceived errors or oversights in plot and timeline details.
  • Why does Gandalf go north through the Ettenmoors when Aragorn rejected it as too long? He wants to get to Rivendell quickly, but it time to his journey and forces him to leave Shadowfax.
  • While this draws the Riders away from the Road and splits their party, this didn’t hold for long.
  • Is it possible that this was Gandalf feeling real danger to himself? Maybe, but he would have been better off staying on Shadowfax on the Road and going straight to Rivendell.
  • Going north away from Rivendell and giving up his horse puts him in more danger, not less.
  • If his objective was to draw the Riders after him, he either failed or was unaware that they had turned back, but he may have also counted on unfamiliarity with the terrain to confuse them.
  • In order to follow Gandalf into the Ettenmoors, the Riders would have also had to dismount, which is unlikely, as the horses are not only their transportation, but assist them with seeing.
  • Note: While Gandalf seems unsure about how to find Rivendell in The Hobbit, this is changed in The Lord of the Rings, where it’s clear that those that are known there are clear on the way.
  • It’s possible that Gandalf has never approached Rivendell from that direction before this.
  • The Nazgûl may not know where Rivendell is, but they do understand the significance of the threshold of the Ford, so it’s likely that they would understand that is where is Gandalf is going.
  • The Witch-king would also have plenty of history with Rivendell during his time in Angmar.
  • Gandalf describes Shadowfax’s departure as if it was the horse’s own choice or judgement once Gandalf realized that they could not ride together there, acknowledging Shadowfax’s agency.
  • In the end, this may have been a miscalculation on Gandalf’s part, as he doesn’t accomplish either of his ultimate objectives of reaching Rivendell early or keeping the Riders away.
  • It’s possible that Gandalf’s point here is that it wasn’t his actions that saved Frodo, but the workings of Providence since the news arrived at Rivendell ahead of him anyway.
  • Note: This is parallel to Aragorn’s later statement that the Ring-bearer’s fate is no longer in his hands. It’s possible that Gandalf feels that all he can do is abandon his plan and have faith. This faith is rewarded by allowing him to be in Rivendell in time to assist with the battle at the Ford. They have intuitive feelings, but they also reason based on those intuitions, and they understand their role in the greater story of which they are a part, and not always the main part. Aragorn is also using a moral signpost to point the way, though Gandalf doesn’t have that here.
  • This may be intended to impress upon the Council that Providence is with them in this struggle.
  • Note: Using the idea of the Music of the Ainur as the basis, those who are shown to have foresight are aware of the themes in the music and noticing the repeating patterns that allow them to see where the music will go in the future, which makes them good counselors.
Such a thing has not happened before:
  • Note: The word “tryst” is related to the word “trust” and means a prearranged meeting.
  • Gandalf could have told all this to Frodo the previous day, so why does he tell it all here? He needs to talk about his various perils to emphasize the danger of the Ring to the Council.
  • He also emphasizes how outside all these events are out of everyone’s control, in both positive and negative ways that no one involved could have foreseen or planned.
  • This will affect the Council’s decisions regarding the Ring, as they now feel that they can have some faith in Providence regarding the quest of the Ring and what path to take.
  • This also elevates Frodo in the eyes of the Council, increasing their trust in him as Ring-bearer.