062 – …Ere the Other Side He See

Our second episode on Chapter 5 of The Hobbit. Tension mounts as the riddle contest between Bilbo and Gollum continues, with Bilbo’s life at stake. His luck saves him in the final round, but when Gollum accuses him of not playing fair, he’s still very much in danger. We compare the current text to the first edition to see how Tolkien transformed Gollum from a hungry, but honest, monster into a “miserable wicked creature” corrupted by the One Ring. And we welcome a listener to the North Wing of the Prancing Pony in a new segment!

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 71-78, “Riddles in the Dark”

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit Facsimile First Edition (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

061 – Answer Me These Questions Five…

The first of three episodes on Chapter 5 of The Hobbit. Bilbo wakes up in the darkness below the mountains, and soon finds himself in a life-or-death riddle-game with one of Tolkien’s most infamous creations: Gollum. We begin to discuss the changes made to this chapter during the composition of The Lord of the Rings, as Tolkien’s understanding of Gollum and the ring changed. Also, we look to the Professor’s own words for context about the newly announced Amazon series in a new segment: The Tolkien Quote of the Day.

(EDIT: In this episode, we mentioned an illustration in a 1947 Swedish edition of The Hobbit depicting Gollum as four times the size of Bilbo. Our listener Trotter located an image of the illustration by artist Torbjön Zetterholm, which we’ve included below:

As well as this other unsettling depiction of Gollum by illustrator Tove Jansson from a 1950s edition of The Hobbit:

Our thanks to Trotter for these spectacular finds!)

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
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  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 65-71, “Riddles in the Dark”

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit Facsimile First Edition (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Tolkien, J. R. R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books, paperback)

Drout, Michael D. C., ed. J.R.R. Tolkien Encyclopedia: Scholarship and Critical Assessment (Routledge, paperback)

Hammond, Wayne G. and Christina Scull. The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover)

060 – Questions After Nightfall I

It’s our first ever Prancing Pony Podcast Q&A episode! Alan and Shawn answer live questions from our very special guests, ranging from the fun to the philosophical. Topics include our favorite villains, the surprising similarities between goblins and dwarves, and the importance of reading Tolkien’s poetry aloud. Also Entwives, and the uncanny ability of goblins to recognize millennia-old Elvish swords.

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
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  • Click the green button at right
  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) The Silmarillion (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Fellowship of the Ring: Being the First Part of The Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Two Towers: Being the Second Part of The Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Return of the King: Being the Third Part of the Lord of the Rings (Mariner Books, paperback)

Tolkien, J. R. R. (Christopher Tolkien, ed.) Beren and Lúthien (Houghton Mifflin Harcourt, hardcover)

Tolkien, J.R.R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Flieger, Verlyn. Splintered Light: Logos and Language in Tolkien’s World (Kent State University Press, paperback)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

059 – Run Away!

As we resume Chapter 4 of The Hobbit, Bilbo and friends are captured by goblins. Thorin Oakenshield’s name and reputation are known in these parts, and the Great Goblin does not take kindly to his arrival. Gandalf comes to the rescue with his shining Elven-sword, allowing our heroes a chance to escape… maybe. We get word-nerdy to explain Tolkien’s use of the terms ‘goblin’ and ‘orc’, have fun with goblin voices, and a Tolkien Fun Fact reminds us how different the Professor’s school days were from ours.

For the Mythmoot paper on pronunciation of Dwarvish names (“So How Do You Pronounce “Thrain” Anyway?” by Dr. Edward T. Powell) referenced by our listener Sharat, please see the Mythmoot III archives at the Signum University website:
https://signumuniversity.org/library/signum-digital-collections/mythmoot-2015/#epowell

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
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  • Click the green button at right
  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 57-64, “Over Hill and Under Hill”

Tolkien, J.R.R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Gilliver, Peter, Jeremy Marshall, Edmund Weiner. The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, hardcover)

Carpenter, Humphrey. J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography (Houghton Mifflin, paperback)

Garth, John. Tolkien and the Great War: The Threshold of Middle-earth (Mariner Books, hardcover)

Garth, John. Tolkien at Exeter College (Exeter College, paperback)

058 – There Lies a Cave

In Chapter 4 of The Hobbit, our heroes begin the crossing of the mountains under threat of stormy weather and rock-hurling stone-giants. They seek shelter in a cave, but caves up in the mountains are seldom unoccupied, and this one is no exception. We investigate the nature of the mysterious stone-giants, a new Philology Faire segment unveils surprises in Tolkien’s original conception of Treebeard, and we get a little spooky for a listener question about the Dead Marshes.

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Click the green button at right
  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 52-57, “Over Hill and Under Hill”

Tolkien, J.R.R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Rateliff, John D. The History of the Hobbit (HarperCollins, one-volume hardcover)

Gilliver, Peter, Jeremy Marshall, Edmund Weiner. The Ring of Words: Tolkien and the Oxford English Dictionary (Oxford University Press, hardcover)

057 – ‘Tis a Silly Place

In Chapter 3 of The Hobbit, Bilbo’s story takes its first steps into Tolkien’s greater mythology, but these aren’t your grandfather’s Eldar. We uncover the hidden secrets of the notorious “silly Elves” of Rivendell, introduce Elrond, and discuss the incredible luck of arriving at the Last Homely House at precisely the right time. Also, a listener question sends us searching for the reason why Gandalf didn’t seem to know where his new sword came from.

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
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  • Click the green button at right
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Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 43-51, “A Short Rest”

Tolkien, J.R.R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Olsen, Corey. Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback)

056 – He’s a Burglar and He’s OK

In Chapter 2 of The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins wakes up to the pleasant lack of Dwarves. He’s beginning to think that he’s escaped adventure after all when Gandalf pushes him out the door. Immediately, little Bilbo misses the comforts of home, but the trouble is just beginning… and before they even reach the dangerous part of the road, he must test his burglarious skills on a trio of hungry, if illiterate, trolls. Plus, we let the Professor make the bad puns for once in a new Tolkien Fun Fact.

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Click the green button at right
  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 27-42, “Roast Mutton”

Tolkien, J.R.R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

055 – Pining for the Hoards

We wrap up Chapter 1 of The Hobbit, “An Unexpected Party”, where Bilbo’s Tookish side is awakened by the mysterious dwarf-song filling his home, but his Baggins side is less enthusiastic once Thorin and Gandalf lay out the details of the dwarves’ quest. Will Bilbo stay safely in his comfortable hole, or will he rise to the challenge like his great golfing ancestor Bullroarer Took? Also: more word-nerdery as we talk about Tolkien’s use of the plural form ‘dwarves’ in the first installment of another new show segment: Philology Faire.

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Click the green button at right
  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 14-26, “An Unexpected Party”

Tolkien, J.R.R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

Carpenter, Humphrey, ed. The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien (Mariner Books, paperback)

054 – Nobody Expects the Dwarvish Inquisition

We begin our reading of The Hobbit with the famous first line and meet Bilbo Baggins, living a predictable life of luxury and ease until Gandalf comes by one Tuesday morning. Soon Bilbo’s world is turned upside down by an unexpected party of hungry dwarves, and his comfortable life is threatened. Along the way, we discuss the enduring courtesy of hobbits, the dangers of saying “Good morning” to wizards, and offer fashion tips for homeless dwarves. Plus, the first installment of our new segment: Today in Tolkien History.

For more on the recent genealogical research into the Tolkien family conducted by Ryszard Derdzinski, please see Mr. Derdzinski’s blog at http://tolkniety.blogspot.com/ (bilingual: Polish/English)

Listen to the episode here, on YouTube, or in the player below:

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Comments or questions for Barliman’s Bag:

  • Visit us at Facebook or Twitter
  • Comment on this blog post
  • Click the green button at right
  • Email barliman (at) theprancingponypodcast (dot) com

Recommended Reading:

Tolkien, J. R. R. The Hobbit (Mariner Books, paperback) pp. 3-14, “An Unexpected Party”

Tolkien, J.R.R. and Douglas A. Anderson, ed. The Annotated Hobbit (HarperCollins, hardcover)

The Prancing Pony Podcast is going weekly!

Last month, about this time, I provided a pretty lengthy State of the Podcast post, letting you all know the things we’re working on here at The Prancing Pony Podcast. To recap, here are some of the things we’ve done, all starting with the launch of Season 2:

  • Improved recording quality
  • Better post-processing tools
  • New content segments
  • New iOS11 episode organization
  • Exclusive patron content

If it weren’t for the support of members of The Fellowship of the Podcast, we wouldn’t have been able to make some of the improvements we’ve made. But our most recent change — the one we’re announcing today — is the biggest step we’ve ever taken and it’s all because of our patrons…

Recently, our Patreon family helped us reach our second goal — and as a result, we are pleased to announce that, starting with our very next episode, Shawn and I will be releasing The Prancing Pony Podcast on a weekly basis. That’s right: no more waiting two weeks to hear our take on the latest chapter of The Hobbit — every week, you’ll be getting a new episode to take you through your daily commutes, your morning workouts, or whatever it is you do while you’re listening to us1.

We’ve mapped out our schedule through the end of The Hobbit and, barring any setbacks, this new schedule means we should finish our discussion of it sometime near the beginning of the summer! It took us 38 episodes (not including our specials and interviews) to go through the 289 pages of The Silmarillion, for an average of 7.6 pages per episode. The Hobbit is of similar length, but we figure we’ll go through it at a quicker pace. We’ll also have specials — including our new Questions After Nightfall sessions — and maybe an interview or two, so mid-June sounds about right. We hope you’ll enjoy the journey There and Back Again as you walk alongside us!


1 We like to think of you sitting in a comfy chair, Hobbit in hand, a cup of your favorite beverage on a nearby table, with all your attention focused on our analysis, banter and witty repartee, but we know that many of you don’t have any more spare time than we do.