Reading “The Lord of the Rings:” “The Shadow of the Past”

Queerly Different

In this chapter, the reader finally begins to learn of the origins of the Ring, not only how it was made and by whom, but also how it came to be in the hands of two hobbits of the Shire and what should be done with it.  It is both one of the most frightening and most compelling parts of the book, because we at last begin to get a glimpse of just how much is at stake with what has transpired.

Only Tolkien could take a chapter that is, almost in its entirety, a history lesson and make it as compelling and forward driven as the more action-oriented parts of the story.  The chapter pulls us along as the story unspools and we at last learn of the many stages of the Ring, from its forging to its eventual location in the Shire.  We also learn of the danger…

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