The scouts begin to return:
The scouts begin to return:
- While the naming of the months suggests that this is being written by Frodo in retrospect, knowing the eventual date of their departure, it may also suggest a keen awareness at the time.
- Note: It’s important to remember that the maps of Middle-earth produced by the Tolkiens are narrative-centric, meaning that they have great detail in areas important to the plot, but are less detailed in areas where the point-of-view characters don’t go or get to see in person.
- Since we know that Gandalf had to let Shadowfax return to Rohan and proceed through the Ettenmoors and south unhorsed, it’s likely that the scouting missions there were done on foot.
- By going this far north, they are more than halfway to Angmar, which is an extreme distance.
- It’s appropriate that Aragorn and the Rangers scout southwest along the Greyflood, as this was a major navigable river in the days of Númenor and the kingdom of Arnor, their forebears.
- They seem to be covering the entire area east of the Greenway to the rivers, and as far north as the East Road and south to Tharbad. This is a large area and would require many scouts.
- The sons of Elrond seem to have gone part way with Aragorn and the Rangers, then further on.
- Those who cross over the mountains cover a very large area from north to south in Wilderland.
- It seems possible that those who go north to Mirkwood go as far as the Elvenking’s halls there.
- Those who go south into Wilderland are able to cover another large area of the Anduin River valley, as they go back across the mountains at the Redhorn Pass further south than before.
- Elladan and Elrohir seem to have passed through Eregion after leaving Aragorn and passing over the Redhorn Gate, and then down the Silverlode. Their ultimate destination seems to be Lórien.
- It’s interesting that this is referred to as a “great journey” compared to the other scouts, as it seems to be similar in terms of distance. This may refer to the strangeness of their destination.
- Fangorn is another possibility, as it’s further away and also strange, but Lórien seems likelier.
- It’s important that the farthest scouts go almost as far as Mordor, which would make the journey of Elladan and Elrohir seem like a dry run of the Fellowship’s journey as first planned.
- The secrecy of the sons of Elrond is singled out, and so points to this kind of extra importance.
- It also seems likely that if they went to Lothlórien, Galadriel may have had counsel to send back.
- Note: When we meet Galadriel later, she’s had news of the party and is expecting their arrival.
- The use of the word “errand” is only used of Elrond’s sons’ task, which makes it seem different.
- Note: It seems likely that this trip was partly responsible for the decision to try to cross Caradhras towards Lothlórien as the Fellowship’s primary plan before they set off from Rivendell. Also, this preplanning and coordination using scouts and messengers points to any form of telepathic communication that Elrond, Galadriel, and Gandalf are able to do as not being possible over such great physical distances, and they have to rely on mundane forms.
- All three of the major mountains passes seem to have been scouted, and the Redhorn chosen.
- Gandalf previously mentioned that they would be looking for evidence of the Nazgûl, but the vast area covered by the scouts suggest that they are looking at all movements of the Enemy.
- The trip to Rhosgobel implies that they were scouting out the area near Dol Guldur, as the activity of the Orcs in south Mirkwood was mentioned by Legolas, but not investigated before.
- This is also important because of the route they have chosen, as if the party is to go to Lothlórien, they would leave there being very close to Dol Guldur and whatever threat it poses.
- Those with Aragorn may be scouting to see how many spies and agents of Saruman are moving among the refugees moving north along the Greenway, including possible military maneuvers.
- The reason for the scouting north into the Ettenmoors seems to be the continued presence of evil creatures like trolls, which may or may not be related to the proximity to old Angmar.
- These creatures had been hinted in the rumors that reached Frodo in the Shire years earlier.
- Also, there are threats not known in Bree in the North Downs, but rumored, nonetheless.
- While the Ring needs to go south, the northern scouting missions are still necessary, as they need to know what threats may lie in their rear, and also to investigate alternate routes.
- There is a possibility of crossing the mountains earlier and using the Anduin all the way, but before that could happen the Gladden River and the rest of the river valleys need scouting.
- In the Council, they suspected that Sauron expects them to take the Ring to the Sea, rather than to Mordor, so they need to know what the Enemy is preparing in response to that possibility.
- Elrond had said that the path to the Sea was the most dangerous because it seemed likeliest.
- This may also be a bit of misdirection, as the number of parties going out from Rivendell might mask the importance of the party accompanying the Ring when it does finally set out.
- The greatest threat to Sauron towards the Sea is Glorfindel on Asfaloth heading into the West.
- If one of the Wise chose to claim the Ring, what would they do, and what would Sauron expect?
- Presumably, a new Ring-lord would seek to consolidate their power and subdue all rivals before gathering all available forces to face down Sauron himself, more like the Numenoreans would.
- There is also the threat of the Orcs of the Misty Mountains, and if they are near to attacking Rivendell, which would determine the proper time to send the Ring away from that threat.
- Their final conclusions seem to be not to only avoid the obvious threats of Dol Guldur and Isengard, but also to decrease their overall exposure in the open of the Anduin River valley.
- Those that went north had to be looking to see if Angmar and Gundabad are mustering.
- Where is Radagast? Since the phrase “old home” is used, does he not live in Rhosgobel now?
- They seem to have expected to find Radagast there, however, and he is associated with it.
- Radagast was last seen leaving on the Greenway, but from there we don’t clearly know.
- We know that among the “birds and beasts” that he contacted, he also sought out the Eagles.
- Gandalf had implied that Radagast had left Rhosgobel because of the darkness of Mirkwood.
- It is suggested that Radagast headed south on the Greenway, since Gandalf could not follow him right away, and that otherwise he would have followed him to Isengard, instead of Bree.
- If Radagast was headed in the direction of Isengard, he had made at least one stop to contact Gwaihir. Saruman also does not reference his return, nor to expect it in his message to Gandalf.
- While the shortest way back to Mirkwood would be to go due east, he may have taken a southern route back over the Misty Mountains. Gandalf was unsure due to his imprisonment.
- There are about two and a half months between the meeting with Radagast and the arrival of Gwaihir at Orthanc. This may be the time in which Radagast asked the Eagles to assist them.
- Gandalf also assumed that Radagast would not be returning to Isengard, since he asked Radagast to send news to Orthanc by birds and beasts in his stead, not coming himself.
- It seems likely that Radagast also has business of his own and would be away about it.
- Note: In The Lord of the Rings Online game, the story places Radagast in the Lone-lands.
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