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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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At this point, Sam Gamgee, the gardener, is discovered
eavesdropping. He shows even less comprehension of the
situation than Frodo does. When told he can accompany
Frodo, Sam is overjoyed: "Me go and see Elves and all!
Hooray!"

When Frodo at last leaves the Shire, he is accompanied by
one of his friends, Peregrine Took (Pippin), and by Sam
Gamgee. Gandalf was to go with them but hasn't been
heard from in several months.

This part of the story is filled with vivid descriptions of the
pleasures of the road: crackling fires, amiable conversation,
and, most of all, the landscape-trees, fields, and stars. The
richness of detail, while adding little to the plot, is an
important part of Tolkien's style. Many readers find that
these descriptions make Middle-earth and its inhabitants
come alive.



The travelers soon find they are being pursued by
mysterious Black Riders. Twice they are forced to hide in
the woods as a Rider approaches. Both times they are
nearly discovered, and both times Frodo is seized with an
almost irresistible desire to put on the Ring. The first time,
for an inexplicable reason, the Rider turns away. The
second Rider is driven off by the voices of elves, who then
offer the hobbits protection for the night.

NOTE: The Black Riders give the impression of silent
menace. They wear black cloaks and hoods; not even their
faces can be seen. They track the hobbits through a sense of
smell, making them seem animalistic.

The elven leader warns Frodo that the Riders are deadly
"servants of the Enemy."

In the morning the three hobbits start out, closely pursued
by Black Riders. They safely reach the house Frodo had
bought to hide the fact he was planning to leave the Shire.
There Frodo is joined by Meriadoc Brandybuck (Merry)
and Fatty Bolger. Fatty will stay behind to keep up the
pretense that Frodo is living there, but Merry and Pippin
insist on going with Frodo, no matter how great the danger.
Frodo has been told by both Gandalf and the elves that he
should rely on the help of friends. Though he doesn't want
to bring them into danger, he's happy to know they'll come.
Through Merry, Pippin, and Sam, Tolkien is expressing the
importance of friendship.

The hobbits decide not to take the road, which is likely to
be watched by Black Riders. Instead they try to cut through
the Old Forest. It's a weird place, and it's said that the trees
can move, hemming in unwelcome strangers. The hobbits
are soon lost and find themselves on the bank of the River
Withywindle, in the heart of the forest.

They are sitting in the shade of an old willow when
suddenly Merry and Pippin are swallowed up by great
cracks in the tree. Frodo's cries for help are answered by
Tom Bombadil, a strange old man with a feathered hat.
Tom soon forces Old Man Willow to release his captives;
then he invites them to his home. Tom tells the hobbits that
they were lucky he came by, for he did not actually hear
their cries: "Just chance brought me... if chance you call it."
Many readers interpret this as a hint of some unseen power
that guided Tom to come along at that moment and save the
hobbits.

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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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