Sunday, 15 November 2009


This is how you do tension, Tolkien style. Aragorn ('Strider', still, at this stage) and the hobbits have been assaulted on Weathetop by the ringwraiths; Frodo has received a deadly wound in his shoulder from a poisoned knife. Unless they get to Rivendell quick, Frodo will die, or worse than die. They are alone in the wilderness without help. Time is pressing. Chapter XII: 'Flight to the Ford': 'they think their purpose is almost accomplished,' warns Strider, of the wraiths. 'Sam, they believe your master has a deadly wound that will subdue him to their will.' It's very exciting. Then? Then this sentence:
Four days passed.
Actually, the whole sentence is:
Four days passed, without the ground or the scene changing much, except that behind them Weathertop slowly sank, and before them the distant mountains loomed a little nearer.
It's extraordinary; and one of the most extraordinary things is that it works.

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