So much scouting, so little planning?

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
After the Council of Elrond, almost 3 months is spent scouting. Parties of scouts are sent out north, east, south, and southwest. Some of them range up to 250 miles from Rivendell. All this effort for very little result. "In no region had the messengers discovered any signs or tidings of the Riders or other servants of the Enemy."

The only things they learned from all this scouting were learned in days, as they found three of the black horses drowned in the ford, and five more and a black cloak in the rapids below. The only other intelligence from all this scouting that we know of is the report that 'wild wolves were still gathering and hunting again far up the Great River."

That's a lot of effort for very little return.

Meanwhile, as all this fruitless scouting is going on, very little planning is happening. All the planning (or at least most of it) happens in the last seven days before they depart. The Company is not named until seven days before departure. They have only seven days to make plans and study maps (which Frodo does not really do, nor, it seems do most others. The other Hobbits presumably none (Pippin claims that he looked at the maps but could not remember them). Gimli and Legolas, who knows. Boromir not mentioned. Aragorn and Gandalf seemingly the only ones doing any studying and planning.) The Sword of Elendil is not reforged until the last seven days (is Aragorn carrying the broken sword as he scouts down to Tharbad?) They only have seven days to figure out logistics, supplies, and pack. (Not enough time for Sam to remember to bring rope.)

Of course, Gandalf and Elrond seem to already have planned the route. They know that they will be heading down near Gondor, as Aragorn says that the road to Mordor and that to Minas Tirith lie together for many hundreds of miles. When did they plan that? Presumably after getting the scouting reports and just before Elrond summoned the Hobbits to appoint the Company?

So, having delayed through fruitless scouting for almost three months, until 'winter first begins to bite' when ''tis evil in the Wild to fare', The company sets out late and with only seven days to plan and prepare?

What has gone wrong with Elrond's usual intuition?
 

Odola

Active Member
After the Council of Elrond, almost 3 months is spent scouting. Parties of scouts are sent out north, east, south, and southwest. Some of them range up to 250 miles from Rivendell. All this effort for very little result. "In no region had the messengers discovered any signs or tidings of the Riders or other servants of the Enemy."

The only things they learned from all this scouting were learned in days, as they found three of the black horses drowned in the ford, and five more and a black cloak in the rapids below. The only other intelligence from all this scouting that we know of is the report that 'wild wolves were still gathering and hunting again far up the Great River."

That's a lot of effort for very little return.

Meanwhile, as all this fruitless scouting is going on, very little planning is happening. All the planning (or at least most of it) happens in the last seven days before they depart. The Company is not named until seven days before departure. They have only seven days to make plans and study maps (which Frodo does not really do, nor, it seems do most others. The other Hobbits presumably none (Pippin claims that he looked at the maps but could not remember them). Gimli and Legolas, who knows. Boromir not mentioned. Aragorn and Gandalf seemingly the only ones doing any studying and planning.) The Sword of Elendil is not reforged until the last seven days (is Aragorn carrying the broken sword as he scouts down to Tharbad?) They only have seven days to figure out logistics, supplies, and pack. (Not enough time for Sam to remember to bring rope.)

Of course, Gandalf and Elrond seem to already have planned the route. They know that they will be heading down near Gondor, as Aragorn says that the road to Mordor and that to Minas Tirith lie together for many hundreds of miles. When did they plan that? Presumably after getting the scouting reports and just before Elrond summoned the Hobbits to appoint the Company?

So, having delayed through fruitless scouting for almost three months, until 'winter first begins to bite' when ''tis evil in the Wild to fare', The company sets out late and with only seven days to plan and prepare?

What has gone wrong with Elrond's usual intuition?
Elvish way of doing things. ;)
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
Small correction, but the Fellowship sets out exactly two months after the Council; not three.

Concerning the scouting reports, they learn more than just about the wolves:

In no region had the messengers discovered any signs or tidings of the Riders or other servants of the Enemy. Even from the Eagles of the Misty Mountains they had learned no fresh news. Nothing had been seen or heard of Gollum; but the wild wolves were still gathering, and were hunting again far up the Great River. Three of the black horses had been found at once drowned in the flooded Ford. On the rocks of the rapids below it searchers discovered the bodies of five more, and also a long black cloak, slashed and tattered. Of the Black Riders no other trace was to be seen, and nowhere was their presence to be felt. It seemed that they had vanished from the North.

They learn that Gollum has still not been recovered or even seen again, and that the Nazgul have apparently left the North altogether. This is rather important news, but it would take a lot more time to be certain of their absence than it would be to be certain of their presence.

As for not much planning going on, I don't see that supported by the text. By the time the hobbits are summoned, we've already established that there shall be nine companions in the Fellowship; that it will include Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn, and Boromir; and apparently much of the route (since Legolas, Gimli, Aragorn, and Boromir are all said to be joining at least as far as some point along the way). This makes it sound as if there's actually been quite a bit of discussion, just not involving the hobbits; and honestly, are we surprised by that?

You speak of a lack of looking at maps or discovering information, but that seems to be entirely by their own choice. Frodo voluntarily chooses to simply trust Gandalf and Aragorn to be the guides so that he can spend most of his remaining time with Bilbo. Merry and Pippin don't seem to care much at all, and Sam doesn't have a head for maps (at least, outside the Shire).

Further, Frodo has taken a grievous wound, and will soon be setting out to carry a horrible burden to Mordor. What he needs at the moment isn't charting and planning, but fellowship and spiritual recovery. The hobbits don't know enough about the lands to really be helpful with the planning, so why bother them with the details before it's necessary?

Finally, concerning the reforging of Narsil, this seems a deliberate choice to me. Reforging the Blade that was Broken isn't just a preparation for war; it's a powerful symbol of the Heir of Elendil setting out to once again face Sauron. This is a big moment for Aragorn, and I think it would lose something if the Elves had fixed it the first couple days Aragorn was away, and then left it sitting in the smithy until he returned with his claim check to pick it up.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
Hi JJ48,

Thanks for the correction. At some point after writing posts I had the thought that maybe I had written 3 months in Rivendell rather than 2 months, but I couldn't find where.

Yes, Gandalf and Elrond have been doing some planning. I think they made their final decision on the route within a day or so of summoning the Hobbits, when Elrond's sons returned from Rivendell. I think they were waiting on Elladan and Elrohir's assessment of whether Galadriel would be a threat to the Ring.

It is less clear whether Elrond has already decided on the number and composition of the Company. He says, "And I will choose you companions to go with you." He does not say, "And I have chosen companions to go with you."

That sounds like he is making it up on the fly, rather than having planned it. One would hope that Elrond is not volunteering Gimli and Legolas and Aragorn without asking them first, but who knows?

Of course, Elrond has not even planned a complete roster of the Nine (a number which he might have just suddenly thought of). We know this because of the discussion around Merry and Pippin.

The text is not very clear as to how much planning has been done before the scouts return, but what there is in the text tends to imply not a lot.

I agree that the Hobbits don't show much interest in the plans or the maps. However, it might have been better if Gandalf and Aragorn had encouraged them to participate more in the planning, and be more involved?
 

JJ48

Well-Known Member
but what there is in the text tends to imply not a lot.
I suppose as usual, we will agree to disagree on this point.

I agree that the Hobbits don't show much interest in the plans or the maps. However, it might have been better if Gandalf and Aragorn had encouraged them to participate more in the planning, and be more involved?
How would that have been better? What input could they possibly provide, and why would it be better for them to worry than to take more time resting and boosting their spirits?
 

Odola

Active Member
I suppose as usual, we will agree to disagree on this point.



How would that have been better? What input could they possibly provide, and why would it be better for them to worry than to take more time resting and boosting their spirits?
Because people tend to die on such missions.
As Frodo took the mission on his shoulders voluntary, so he should be responsible enough to acquire some basic knowledge and skills to be able fulfill it. Aragorn, Boromir, Legolas and Gimli were expected to leave after crossing the mountains on their own errants. This leaves Gandalf and the hobbits. And Gandalf could be required anytime to check on Saruman.
The Fellowship very often requires a choice of Frodo as the main responsible person for the mission. And he is often at a loss and guesses blindly then because he did not care to bother.
 
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Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
I don't believe that Aragorn has been out scouting the whole time - once they hooked up with the Rangers, he would have returned. He has much to do to prepare for this journey, which means so much to him. And he and Arwen will want some time together, with their fate so close. He and Boromir need to get to know each other since he plans to go to Gondor. Elrond didn't need to ask Aragorn about his part in the mission - his mission is an intrinsic part of the quest. And I imagine that not just Gimli was part of the decision for him to go - Gloin must also have been in the consultations. As for the choice of an elf, once Elrond decided all the free peoples should be represented, he had so many elves to choose from it must have been difficult, unless he believed that Legolas has been called to Rivendell for this purpose as well as to be part of the Council. Boromir and Aragorn were a given for most of the distance for men, and Sam and Frodo for hobbits. So some of that time while the scouts were out was spent in consultation about many things, and some getting to know each other for the members of the fellowship who had been chosen. And of course, Frodo and Bilbo need time together, since they both know it could be their last time together.

So I don't think the time was wasted. I think Aragorn and Gandalf have been consulting about possible routes, possibly also with Gimli and Legolas. I think that last week is finalizing plans and getting their gear together (and the sword reforged, of course).
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
I don't believe that Aragorn has been out scouting the whole time - once they hooked up with the Rangers, he would have returned. He has much to do to prepare for this journey, which means so much to him. And he and Arwen will want some time together, with their fate so close. He and Boromir need to get to know each other since he plans to go to Gondor. Elrond didn't need to ask Aragorn about his part in the mission - his mission is an intrinsic part of the quest. And I imagine that not just Gimli was part of the decision for him to go - Gloin must also have been in the consultations. As for the choice of an elf, once Elrond decided all the free peoples should be represented, he had so many elves to choose from it must have been difficult, unless he believed that Legolas has been called to Rivendell for this purpose as well as to be part of the Council. Boromir and Aragorn were a given for most of the distance for men, and Sam and Frodo for hobbits. So some of that time while the scouts were out was spent in consultation about many things, and some getting to know each other for the members of the fellowship who had been chosen. And of course, Frodo and Bilbo need time together, since they both know it could be their last time together.

So I don't think the time was wasted. I think Aragorn and Gandalf have been consulting about possible routes, possibly also with Gimli and Legolas. I think that last week is finalizing plans and getting their gear together (and the sword reforged, of course).
"Some of the scouts have been sent out already.... And Aragorn has gone with the sons of Elrond."

"The Hobbits had been nearly two months in the House of Elrond,... and December was passing, when the scouts began to return."

"Others had gone west, and with the help of Aragorn and the Rangers had searched the lands far down the Greyflood, as far as Tharbad."


Aragorn is a scout. The first scouts did not return until almost two months after the Council. Aragorn was amongst the scouts, searching as far as Tharbad. Ergo, Aragorn could not have returned until mid to late December. The evidence in the text is clear. There is absolutely no evidence that Aragorn returned early. There is evidence that he did not.

The journey to Tharbad and back is at least 540 miles. Perhaps much longer, depending on the amount of scouting and the route taken back. It is not surprising that Aragorn should be gone for 6 or so weeks.

I speculate (on no evidence) that Boromir went with him. I don't think Boromir would have hung around Rivendell for 6 weeks without Aragorn. I think he would have headed back to Minas Tirith (or been a very impatient house guest in Rivendell).
 

Rachel Port

Well-Known Member
If Aragorn is a scout and Ellodan and Elrohir's journey is also a dry run, he should (and perhaps would) have stayed with them, since he will obviously be part of whatever company goes with Frodo at least as far as Lorien. And Boromir obviously could not be part of that group.
 

Flammifer

Well-Known Member
If Aragorn is a scout and Ellodan and Elrohir's journey is also a dry run, he should (and perhaps would) have stayed with them, since he will obviously be part of whatever company goes with Frodo at least as far as Lorien. And Boromir obviously could not be part of that group.
But Aragorn obviously does not continue on with Ellodan and Elrohir, as they travel down the Silverlode to a Strange Country, while Aragorn searches down the Greyflood as far as Tharbad.
 

TThurston

Member
Perhaps there was much more planning than is reported, and we merely have the report of the final result of that planning. After all, we've heard that one does rather lose track of what happens in Rivendell. And for some folk, particularly the Hobbits, it was a primarily a time to rest and recover. If each planning session had been reported in full, with all the what if's and how about's and such, each as long as Elrond's council, the tale might get a bit tedious and hard for a scribe to copy by hand. Or maybe the original account did report all the planning sessions, but a lazy scribe (or editor) thought that it made the tale too long. Or maybe the editor thought it made better copy to report it as if it was decided at the last moment. Just because we don't read about something, it doesn't mean it didn't happen.

Or perhaps Tolkien himself thought that it might make better reading to just report what happened at the end of the stay in Rivendell, and leave us to imagine all the stuff that did or did not happened during the "days that slipped away". After all, "for the hobbits", "the future, for good or ill, was not forgotten, but ceased to have any power over the present." Not even power to study maps, it seems.
 
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