Places: Mordor

The Tower and the red eye


The dusk was deep when at length they set out, creeping over the westward rim of the dell, and fading like ghosts into the broken country on the borders of the road: The moon was now three nights from the full, but it did not climb over the mountains until nearly midnight, and the early night was very dark. A single red light burned high up in the Towers of the Teeth, but otherwise no sign could be seen or heard of the sleepless watch on the Morannon.

squire: A. Why are there no patrols or outlying guard posts in the perimeter country beyond the ‘sleepless’ Morannon?

N.E. Brigand: from glen to glen Sorry, I’ve only time for a few responses.

Not necessary?  The mountains are basically impassable and stocked with terrors, like Shelob’s children (“Far and wide her lesser broods, bastards of the miserable mates, her own offspring, that she slew, spread from glen to glen, from the Ephel Duath to the eastern hills, to Dol Guldur and the fastnesses of Mirkwood”).  Also there may be patrols that the trio simply don’t encounter – they avoid the road and they do encounter signs of orcs, as you note.  Finally, Sauron’s power is limited – he can’t have people everywhere, though he’d like people to think he can.  It’s possible the trio was observed but not considered very important, as they will later be by the watchers of Minas Morgul.


     For many miles the red eye seemed to stare at them as they fled, stumbling through a barren stony country. They did not dare to take the road, but they kept it on their left, following its line as well as they could at a little distance. At last, when night was growing old and they were already weary, for they had taken only one short rest, the eye dwindled to a small fiery point and then vanished: they had turned the dark northern shoulder of the lower mountains and were heading southwards.

squire: B. Why did the hobbits feel it was an eye looking at them, if they were facing away from it?

N.E. Brigand: Perhaps stony obstacles in their path force them to turn as they go, so that they’re not always facing away from the tower, and keep noticing it off to one side.

dernwyn: Eye see you That red light: Why did the hobbits feel it was an eye looking at them, if they were facing away from it?  That's precisely why they "felt" it as an eye looking at them: that eerie feeling that someone is watching you behind your back, following your movements; you sense malice.



squire: C. Where else have we seen this eye – and where will we see it again? Why does Tolkien like this image so much?

N.E. Brigand: Frodo saw a red star from Rivendell.  Sam and Frodo will see a red light over the pass of Cirith Ungol.  Big Brother is watching?



The growing light revealed to them a land already less barren and ruinous. The mountains still loomed up ominously on their left, but near at hand they could see the southward road, now bearing away from the black roots of the hills and slanting westwards. Beyond it were slopes covered with sombre trees like dark clouds,


Mountains in Provence


It seemed good to be reprieved, to walk in a land that had only been for a few years under the dominion of the Dark Lord and was not yet fallen wholly into decay. But they did not forget their danger, nor the Black Gate that was still all too near, hidden though it was behind the gloomy heights. They looked about for a hiding-place where they could shelter from evil eyes while the light lasted.


    The day passed uneasily. They lay deep in the heather and counted out the slow hours, in which there seemed little change; for they were still under the shadows of the Ephel Dúath, and the sun was veiled.

squire: D. What is the essence of Mordor’s influence upon Ithilien? What changes would be made to Rohan, or the Shire, should they meet a similar fate?

                *Rustling in the underbrush*


Road repaired only 30 miles


     The road had been made in a long lost time: and for perhaps thirty miles below the Morannon it had been newly repaired, but as it went south the wild encroached upon it.

squire: E. Sauron has controlled Ithilien for many lives of men. Why repair the road only when it approaches the Morannon?

dernwyn: That's a good question, why the road has only been repaired for 30 miles, when Sauron's bringing all these troops up from the south.  Did his Orc construction crews go on strike?  Or did he think of the completed section as a sort of "welcome mat" or "red carpet" into Mordor?


Orcs patrolling


Then they sought for a resting-place, and a hiding-place: for this land, fair-seeming still, was nonetheless now territory of the Enemy. They had not come very far from the road, and yet even in so short a space they had seen scars of the old wars, and the newer wounds made by the Orcs and other foul servants of the Dark Lord: a pit of uncovered filth and refuse; trees hewn down wantonly and left to die, with evil runes or the fell sign of the Eye cut in rude strokes on their bark.

squire: The rangers seldom come so far afield, we will soon learn. Sauron has held Ithilien for many years now. Defacing or cutting down trees and leaving open pits of filth seems hardly in the same league with his usual landscaping style.

F. What does Sauron do or want to do with Ithilien up here by the high road, where his folk are free to live and work almost undisturbed if they choose to?


Dreadful feasts


     Sam scrambling below the outfall of the lake. smelling and touching the unfamiliar plants and trees, forgetful for the moment of Mordor, was reminded suddenly of their ever-present peril. He stumbled on a ring still scorched by fire, and in the midst of it he found a pile of charred and broken bones and skulls. The swift growth of the wild with briar and eglantine and trailing clematis was already drawing a veil over this place of dreadful feast and slaughter; but it was not ancient.

squire: G. Whose charred and broken bones are they?

dernwyn: That charred pile of bones could provide some anthropologically interesting data on Orc feeding habits.  Entire animals?  Or a bit of "Oh, old Nikbrash died, let's not let him go to waste"?



War? What war?


but though Orcs may shun the sunlight, there were too many places here where they could lie hid and watch; and other evil eyes were abroad: Sauron had many servants.

squire: H. But where are the orcs, really? What other ‘eyes’ are abroad? Is this one line enough to establish a sense of “menace” in this chapter?

               *muffled laughter like sliding stones*


Sardinia after a storm

At that moment he saw the sun rise out of the reek, or haze, or dark shadow, or whatever it was, that lay ever to the east,

squire: I. Just what is that stuff in the Ephel Duath? (and who is saying “or whatever it was”?)

dernwyn: The "reek, or haze, or dark shadow, or whatever it was": this seems like Sam's thought, as he ponders the darkness from Mordor.  By "whatever is was" he may mean some sort of sorcery on the part of Sauron, rather than Sauron's use of a natural material for shading his realm.


`But there are no travellers in this land: only the servants of the Dark Tower, or of the White.’


`We must learn more of this,' said Faramir, `and know what brings you so far east under the shadow of yonder-,' he pointed and said no name.


I doubt not that the days of Gondor are numbered, and the walls of Minas Tirith are doomed, so great is His strength and malice.'


they go ever more heedlessly, we learn, thinking that the power of their new master is great enough, so that the mere shadow of His hills will protect them.


‘We shall be pursued as soon as news of our deed reaches the Enemy, and that will not be long.'

squire: It’s 60 miles to the Morannon, and we’ve seen not an orc or any other enemy since then.

J. Pursued by whom?

                    *quiet  --  too quiet*


squire: K. Is Sauron’s power like that of the Black Riders: mostly Fear?

                    *eerie silence*


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