The Friday 56: Summer of Sandman #2

The Friday 56 is a weekly booking meme courtesy of Freda’s Voice. Friday 56And there is a linkup!

The rules are simple: Grab a book, any book. Turn to page 56. Find a sentence, any sentence, and post it. (Or post a few — just don’t spoil it!) Add the post url (not your homepage) to the linky and do some visits.

Since Diana and I are blogging about Neil Gaiman’s Sandman series this summer at Comparative Geeks, I’m working my way through the 10-volume trade paperback version of the series. From The Doll’s House (vol. 2):

Rose Walker: “I don’t know what I was expecting. Not her. She looked lost, and fragile, like a little china doll. And weirdly familiar, and I didn’t know why.”

Throwback Thursday: My Endless Tolkien Series, part 8

Originally published June 4, 2014 at Part Time Monster as “The Murder of Deagol.” The entire series to date is archived here.

Last week I provided an overview of Gollum’s life. This week I’ll discuss just one event – Smeagol’s acquisition of the Ring and his murder of Deagol. The only account we have in the text of LOTR is from Gandalf, so we don’t get the story straight from Gollum himself. However, it’s told from start to finish in Gandalf’s own words. Gandalf is the most trustworthy character when it comes to truth and facts, but this story is brief . It’s only about a page-and-a-half long. (1)

Synopsis

Smeagol (Gollum) and his friend Deagol, two hobbits, take a boat down to the Gladden Fields, where Isildur lost the ring almost 2,500 years earlier. Deagol fishes in the boat, Smeagol noses around on the bank. Deagol hooks a fish so large it pulls him into the river. He spies the GollumFinalRing and retrieves it. Smeagol sees him “gloating over it,” demands it, and an argument ensues. Smeagol strangles Deagol, hides the body, and returns home with the Ring. (2)

Once home, Gollum discovers the power of the ring, and uses the invisibility to learn peoples’ secrets and use them in all kinds of malicious ways. This, of course, causes his family to shun him. “He took to thieving, and going about muttering to himself, and gurgling in his throat.” His grandmother, apparently a wealthy and powerful matriarch, banishes him from the community to restore the peace. (3)

From there he wanders in the wild until the ring corrupts him to the point that he can’t stand the sun, so he retreats into roots of the Misty Mountains. He lives there in the dark, eating raw fish and who knows what else, until Bilbo encounters him almost 500 years after the murder.

Observations: Gollum

Last week I said Gollum isn’t absolutely evil, and that’s true, but this passage suggests that he was something of a bad seed before he ever encountered the ring. This is the most interesting part of the entire passage to me:

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The Friday 56: Summer of Sandman #1

The Friday 56 is a weekly booking meme courtesy of Freda’s Voice. Friday 56And there is a linkup! The rules are simple: Grab a book, any book. Turn to page 56. Find a sentence, any sentence, and post it. (Or post a few — just don’t spoil it!) Add the post url (not your homepage) to the linky and do some visits.

I did a short run of these at Just Gene’O back in the spring and they did so well I decided to move them here. Since Diana and I are doing a lot of posting at Comparative Geeks about Neil Gaiman’s Sandman this summer, I’m working my way through the ten-volume trade paperback collection of that series. Enjoy!

From “Imperfect Hosts” in Preludes and Nocturnes:

Cain: Now, why would I give you an exploding present? What kind of brother would I be if I did that?

Abel: My kind of B-brother. The uh, the kind who kills me whenever he’s uh . . . Mad at me, or bored, or just in a lousy mood.

Throwback Thursday: My Endless Tolkien Series, part 7

Originally published May 29, 2014 at Part Time Monster as “Gollum Makes the Story Work.” The whole series is archived here.

I’m reading the One Ring as a character and tracing its interactions with the other characters chronologically to see what it tells us about the nature of good and evil in Middle GollumFinalEarth.

Next up is Gollum. I regard him one of the three most important characters in the story. We can’t understand Bilbo, Frodo, and Sam until we get a handle on Gollum. Today I’ll provide an overview of his life as briefly as possible and discuss my general impressions of his importance.

Overview

Robert Foster (1) puts Gollum’s birth year at c. Third Age 2430. Gollum dies and destroys the One Ring in the fire of Mount Doom in TA 3019, so he lives nearly 600 years thanks to the influence of the Ring. He is originally named Smeagol, and is a Hobbit of a matriarchal riverland group who live near the Gladden Fields, where Isildur loses the Ring at the dawn of the Third Age.

About 2463, his cousin, Deagol, finds the Ring while fishing. Using his birthday as an excuse, Smeagol demands the Ring, and when Deagol won’t hand it over, Smeagol murders him. Soon after, he’s driven out of his community and hides in the Misty Mountains with the Ring for nearly 500 years. (2)

In 2941, the Ring slips away from Gollum just as Bilbo happens by. Bilbo finds it and pockets it. There’s an exchange in which Bilbo gives Gollum his last name. Bilbo flees, taking the Ring with him. (3) For the next 78 years, Gollum is consumed by his desire to reacquire the Ring and everything he does is motivated by his need to regain it.

Suspecting Bilbo took the Ring, and armed with the name “Baggins,” Gollum leaves the Misty Mountains to look for Bilbo. At some point as he’s following Bilbo’s trail, he associates “Baggins” with the Shire. Decades later, as Sauron is consolidating his power and preparing to launch the War of the Ring, Gollum is captured by agents of the Red Eye, taken to Mordor, and interrogated. This is how Sauron learns the name. The appearance of the Ringwraiths in the Shire at the beginning of The Fellowship of the Ring is a direct result of Gollum’s interrogation. (4)

Sauron releases Gollum in 3017. Aragorn captures him not long after and turns him over to Gandalf. Gandalf also interrogates Gollum, and learns details of the story of the Ring he’d been unable to figure out on his own from the encounter. He leaves Gollum in the custody of the Elves of Mirkwood. Gollum escapes in June of the following year during an orc attack and goes back to searching for the Ring. (5)

He catches up to the Fellowship outside the west gate of Moria and stays on their trail through Moria and Lothlorien. Frodo and Sam capture him in the hill country above the Rauros Falls after the breaking of the Fellowship.

Gollum swears an oath of service to Frodo and guides the hobbits to the pass of Cirith Ungol, the most lightly-guarded entrance to Mordor. There he betrays Frodo to the monstrous spider Shelob in hope of regaining the Ring after she discards Frodo’s possessions. The plan fails, thanks to Master Samwise.

From there, he trails the hobbits to Mount Doom, where he makes a last, desperate attempt to regain the Ring. He finally takes it after Frodo claims the Ring for himself by biting off Frodo’s finger, and falls with the Ring into the fiery Crack of Doom.

By the end of the journey to Mordor, Gollum is so broken, he has two distinct personalities that talk to one another at times. One struggles to be loyal to Frodo and help keep the Ring away from Sauron. The other plots murder and betrayal to regain the Ring. Samwise calls these two aspects of Gollum’s personality “Slinker” and “Stinker.” (6)

Observations

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