Some Fellowship of the Ring questions from someone who is more familiar with the movies

I was watching Fellowship for the gazillionth time over the weekend and was reminded of a couple of questions I had. Since I’ve only read LotR once, I wasn’t sure if if there are answers to my questions in the books.

  1. It seems Gandalf knows about what happened in Moria. When Frodo believes it is the safer route and decides the Fellowship should go that way, why doesn’t Gandalf warn everyone?

  2. Gimli wants to go through Moria and says his cousin (Balin?) will welcome them as honored guests. Why was Gimli not aware of what happened in Moria? Had it been a while since he’d last seen his cousin or the dwarf mail service doesn’t work so well?

  3. This is a more general questions about the wizards in Middle Earth. In any of his writings on the wizards, does Tolkien give them any of the powers we now associate with wizards in fantasy settings: tossing fireballs, teleporting, summoning elementals, etc.?

  1. Because the other options were not much better, he does know what happened but he thought they could sneak through. Which they might have done if it wasn’t for that fool of a Took.

  2. The Moria expedition had been going ok for a few years, which is probably how long they go without communicating. There is no regular mail or anything like that, any visit to catch up is basically a very long trek lasting several months.

  3. Off camera, he fought of the Ring Wraiths, he killed the Balrog. I would imagine there was a lot of standard Wizard stuff going on during those battles.

How did Gimili get to Rivendell in the first place? Did he come alone and go over or under the mountains? Or did he come up from the south along with Boromir? How were they all summoned there?

Gandalf does throw some fireballs, or something of the sort, in The Hobbit.

He talks to birds and is a master of fireworks. Other than that, a charlatan, fit only for use as a battering ram.

Gimli came to Rivendell from Erebor, to the northeast, probably through Mirkwood and then the mountain pass now held by the Beornings. His purpose was to bring news of threats to his people and the Bardings, concern about the loss of word from Moria, and a warning to Bilbo that the name “Baggins” was known to the agents of Mordor.

Dwarf mail.

I want a D-Mail account!

Gimli, as was noted above, came from the north and east to Rivendell.
I don’t think Gandalf was positive about what happened in Moria anymore than anyone else. He had a bad feeling about it, and was more realistic in his hopes than the dwarves were.
In the book Frodo doesn’t make the choice to go there. Gandalf does, and Aragorn warns it will be his doom.
Tolkien’s wizards are NOT the wizards of other fantasy books. They are powerful but in other ways - and their amount of interference in the free peoples of Middle Earth was supposed to be limited.

All I have time for now.

  1. In the book, Gandalf doesn’t know for sure what happened to Balin, but he’s not very optimistic. Gandalf does think that the fellowship can sneak through, since both he and Aragorn had done it before.
    In the book, it’s basically Gandalf and Aragorn making the decision. Aragorn doesn’t like it, but finally accepts that there’s no real alternative.

  2. Wireless reception is crappy in Moria, and the Moria Free Delivery mail service has not been running since the long-ago abandonment of Moria. There may have been a messenger or two saying ‘Hey, we made it inside, starting to look around’ but by the end, Balin’s crew were trapped, so couldn’t send a final ‘Help!’ message.

  3. Tolkien is usually very vague about magic, and describes it ambiguously, using phrases like “he stood stock-still, as if bewildered” that could mean he had a spell cast on him, or could mean he was just non-magically astounded for a moment. For instance, in the book, it’s not clear whether Theoden is just old and tired and convinced by Grima’s words, or is under some malevolent magical influence from Saruman. Gandalf gets Theoden moving, but it could be by purely natural persuasion.

IIRC, Gandalf does do some overt magic: adding to the flood near Rivendell, doing some fire magic against Wargs, lighting a fire in the blizzard, making light with his staff, magically locking a door, breaking a stone bridge, and some flashy light-rays that drive away the flying Nazgul for a moment. Oh, and I guess the fireworks for Bilbo’s party. Mostly the overt stuff is fire tricks.

The films are different from the books. Balin’s expedition to Moria was discussed at the council of Elrond, there had been no messengers from Moria for some years. When discussing Moria as a possible route under the mountains, they were unsure what to expect. Orcs maybe, but “most of the orcs of the misty mountains were destroyed in the Battle of Five Armies.”. They thought there was a chance Balin might still be alive, but they were not suprised to find his tomb. Gandalf was not aware there was a Balrog in Moria.

Gandalf wears the Elven Ring Narya, Ring of Fire, and his powers are all fire-related (I mean his physical powers aside from his immense wisdom and knowledge). He got the ring from Cirdan the Shipwright (briefly seen in the last scenes of “Return of the King”) who judged him the most wise. (Apparently shipbuilding and the power to summon fire don’t go together real well). I am not sure what, if any, physical powers Gandalf the Grey had without Narya.

Gandalf can speak with animals to some degree, however there is another wizard more associated with animals and the natural world, Radegast, who never appears in the movie and only passingly in the books.

In the book Gimli didn’t travel alone. His father Gloin led the trip to Rivendell - he’s mentioned by name - and probably other dwarves came as well.

In the book no one is summoned, they simply all arrive. Dwarfs from Erebor (Gimili, Gloin and company) to ask for advice and warn Bilbo Mordor is looking for him. Elves from Mirkwood to tell people Gollum escaped and Boromir from Gondor asking for help unraveling a riddle.

Gandalf knows there is something in Moria that killed Durin and drove out the dwarves and they call it Durin’s Bane. Gandalf does not know it is a flame of Udun, aka Balrog.

Elrond puts it this way,

What riddle?

Not so much a ridle as a prophetic dream he had - can’t remember how much of this was in the movie:

"In that dream I thought the eastern sky grew dark and there was a growing thunder, but in the West a pale light lingered, and out of it I heard a voice, remote but clear, crying:

Seek for the Sword that was broken:
In Imladris it dwells;
There shall be counsels taken
Stronger than Morgul-spells.
There shall be shown a token
That Doom is near at hand,
For Isildur’s Bane shall waken,
And the Halfling forth shall stand."

I thought it was:

“Five-eleven’s your height;
one-ninety your weight.
You cash in your chips
around page eighty-eight.”

oh how I love Straight Dope LOTR threads. they are always such fun, as well as informative.

I hate you.

You thought of it way before I did. :slight_smile: