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The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien - Barron's Booknotes
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The company plans to cross the Misty Mountains through
the Redhorn Gate, but a sudden blizzard forces them to turn
back. It seems to have been directed against them on
purpose, but Gandalf does not believe that Sauron was
responsible. Rather, he feels that the mountain itself, hostile
toward travelers, sought to stop them. This serves as a
reminder, in Tolkien's philosophy, that there are neutral
forces at work that serve neither good nor evil.

Gandalf leads the company through the mines of Moria,
once the home of dwarves, but now inhabited by orcs
(Tolkien called them goblins in The Hobbit) and other evil
creatures. Pippin impulsively throws a pebble down a well,
angering Gandalf, for it may alert the orcs to their presence
in the mines. Later they are attacked by orcs and trolls, and
even Sam and Frodo have a chance to prove their courage.
For the most part, however, the four hobbits must be
protected and herded about like children as the company
flees through the mines toward the Great Gate. They reach
the bridge of Khazad-dum, which arches over a deep
chasm. Beyond the bridge lies the Great Gate. At that
moment a Balrog (a terrifying creature from the mines of
Moria) appears among their pursuers. Gandalf sends the
others forward, and on the bridge itself he turns to meet the
Balrog.



In the confrontation you can see how Tolkien uses his
imagery of light and shadow, contrasting the light of
Gandalf's sword with the vast shadow surrounding the
Balrog. Before the Balrog, Gandalf seems small and frail,
as good always does before evil in The Lord of the Rings.
But appearances can be deceiving, and Gandalf succeeds in
breaking the Balrog's sword. As he casts the Balrog into the
chasm, the creature's whip wraps around the wizard's leg.
The others watch in horror as Gandalf also plunges into the
chasm. Then they quickly flee to the Great Gate and out
into the safety of the sunlight. There they stop to mourn the
loss of Gandalf.

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