A Journey in the Dark – Moria – Reading Lord of the Rings – Tolkien Reading Day 2020 – Khazad-dûm

The 25th of March 2020 is Tolkien Reading
Day. For some viewers that will be today, for others
the 25th might be in the past or even tomorrow (because of time zones), but no matter the
date, it’s always worth reading Tolkien, which we will do today. I’m in contact with several other Tolkien
Lore channels on YouTube and Nerd of the Rings suggested that we all make (if possible) a
video for Tolkien Reading Day and put them into a shared playlist – as a little collaboration. And several channels agreed to participate. The link to the playlist is in the description
and in the pinned comment. Some of you might have heard this explanation
several times by now, so let’s get started. One last small hint: I try to pronounce names
as Tolkien described it, which often includes a trilled R. I recently re-red the chapters “A Journey
in the Dark“ and “The Bridge of Khazad-dûm” from The Lord of the Rings. They have many interesting little details
in them and so I decided to read a short passage from “A Journey in the Dark” for this
video. My original intent was to find information
on how Legolas felt in Moria, esp. as an Elf of the Sindar, whose relationship with the
dwarves was usually very bad, because the dwarves killed the first King of the Sindar,
Thingol. What trees and forests are for the Elves,
are Mountains for the Dwarves. They were described as “Trees of Aulë”,
who is the the Blacksmith of the Valar and the Vala the dwarves are devoted to. The Elves in contrast prefer forests, trees
and being able to see their beloved Stars of Elbereth in the sky. They are deeply connected to those elements
of the world. So it is no wonder that in the Unfinished
Tales we can read, that Celeborn did not want to go through Khazad-dûm ever (and ofc being
a Sinda, he remembered what the dwarves once did to his kin during the First Age). The Sinda Legolas and Gimli (a Dwarf from
the house of Durin) will break this old feud. On the other hand Galadriel (an Elf of the
Noldor, with blood from all three main Elven clans) actually went through Khazad-dûm to
move to Lothlórien (leaving Eregion behind) during the Second Age. This is for sure one of many reasons why Galadriel
had knowledge about the Dwarves and Khazad-dûm, but also why she was more open towards Gimli,
while Celeborn was not. Interesting side note: Gimli asked for a single
hair, but she gave him three, while Fëanor (basically Galadriel’s uncle) also once asked
her for one hair three times (I assume) around the later Years of the Trees, so even before
the First Age of the Years of the Sun), but here she refused every time, maybe because
she saw the evil in her uncle’s heart. It’s quite ironic that she gave three hairs
to Gimli (the Dwarf), who only very politely asked for one, but refused three times to
give one to her own kin. Material for another video. This shows that a lot of lore is masterfully
woven into these sections of The Lord of the Rings by Tolkien, sadly the feelings of Legolas
wandering through Moria were not much described in these chapters. Still there are other interesting points. E.g. how Frodo realizes, that he walks through
this dangerous place, wearing something that had the price of the Shire and more under
his jacket. The Mithril coat also reminded him of his
home and in a weird way it was also deeply connected with the Shire through Bilbo. It was even placed in something like a museum
in the Shire, the Mathom-house in Michel Delving. I find this idea very touching. Bilbo from the Shire once went on an adventure
with the dwarves bringing back this mithril-mail, he got as a kingly gift from Thorin. He showed it to the Shire in the Mathom-house,
told his story to the people and it became (you could say) a part of the Shire. Through Bilbo the Shire contributed to something
big in the world. And now this protects Frodo and he wears it
close to his heart. Its price is also that of the Shire. I think this has something poetic, which is
why I chose this passage. So let me read a section from “A Journey
in the Dark”: The last thing that Pippin saw, as sleep took
him, was a dark glimpse of the old wizard huddled on the floor,
shielding a glowing chip in his gnarled hands between his knees. The flicker for a moment
showed his sharp nose, and the puff of smoke. It was Gandalf who roused them all from sleep. He had sat and
watched all alone for about six hours, and had let the others rest. ‘And in the watches I have made up my mind,’
he said. ‘I do not
like the feel of the middle way; and I do not like the smell of the
left-hand way: there is foul air down there, or I am no guide. I shall
take the right-hand passage. It is time we began to climb up again.’ For eight dark hours, not counting two brief
halts, they marched on; and they met no danger, and heard nothing,
and saw nothing but the faint gleam of the wizard’s light, bobbing
like a will-o’-the-wisp in front of them. The passage they had chosen wound steadily
upwards. As far as they could judge it went in great
mounting curves, and as it rose it grew loftier and wider. There were now no openings to
other galleries or tunnels on either side, and the floor was level and
sound, without pits or cracks. Evidently they had struck what once
had been an important road; and they went forward quicker than
they had done on their first march. In this way they advanced some fifteen miles,
measured in a direct line east, though they must have actually
walked twenty miles or more. As the road climbed upwards, Frodo’s spirits
rose a little; but he still felt oppressed, and still at times
he heard, or thought he heard, away behind the Company and beyond the fall
and patter of their feet, a following footstep that was not an
echo. They had marched as far as the hobbits could
endure without a rest, and all were thinking of a place where they
could sleep, when suddenly the walls to right and left vanished. They seemed to have passed
through some arched doorway into a black and empty space. There
was a great draught of warmer air behind them, and before them the
darkness was cold on their faces. They halted and crowded anxiously
together. Gandalf seemed pleased. ‘I chose the right way,’ he said. ‘At last
we are coming to the habitable parts, and I guess that we are not far
now from the eastern side. But we are high up, a good deal higher
than the Dimrill Gate, unless I am mistaken. From the feeling of the
air we must be in a wide hall. I will now risk a little real light.’ He raised his staff, and for a brief instant
there was a blaze like a fläsh of lightning. Great shadows sprang up and fled, and for
a second they saw a vast roof far above their heads
upheld by many mighty pillars hewn of stone. Before them and on either side stretched a
huge empty hall; its black walls, polished and smooth
as glass, flashed and glittered. Three other entrances they saw, dark black
arches: one straight before them eastwards, and one on either side. Then the light went out. ‘That is all that I shall venture on for
the present,’ said Gandalf. ‘There used to be great windows on the mountain-side,
and shafts leading out to the light in the upper reaches
of the Mines. I think
we have reached them now, but it is night outside again, and we
cannot tell until morning. If I am right, tomorrow we may actually
see the morning peeping in. But in the meanwhile we had better go
no further. Let us rest, if we can. Things have gone well so far, and
the greater part of the dark road is over. But we are not through yet,
and it is a long way down to the Gates that open on the world.’ The Company spent that night in the great
cavernous hall, huddled close together in a corner to escape the draught:
there seemed to be a steady inflow of chill air through the eastern
archway. All about
them as they lay hung the darkness, hollow and immense, and they
were oppressed by the loneliness and vastness of the dolven halls and
endlessly branching stairs and passages. The wildest imaginings that
dark rumour had ever suggested to the hobbits fell altogether short
of the actual dread and wonder of Moria. ‘There must have been a mighty crowd of
dwarves here at one time,’ said Sam; ‘and every one of them
busier than badgers for five hundred years to make all this, and most in
hard rock too! What did
they do it all for? They didn’t live in these darksome holes
surely?’ ‘These are not holes,’ said Gimli. ‘This is the great realm and city
of the Dwarrowdelf. And of old it was not darksome, but full of
light and splendour, as is still remembered in our
songs.’ He rose and standing in the dark he began
to chant in a deep voice, while the echoes ran away into the
roof. The world was young, the mountains green,
No stain yet on the Moon was seen, No words were laid on stream or stone
When Durin woke and walked alone. He named the nameless hills and dells;
He drank from yet untasted wells; He stooped and looked in Mirrormere,
And saw a crown of stars appear, As gems upon a silver thread,
Above the shadow of his head. The world was fair, the mountains tall,
In Elder Days before the fall Of mighty kings in Nargothrond
And Gondolin, who now beyond The Western Seas have passed away:
The world was fair in Durin’s Day. A king he was on carven throne
In many-pillared halls of stone With golden roof and silver floor,
And runes of power upon the door. The light of sun and star and moon
In shining lamps of crystal hewn Undimmed by cloud or shade of night
There shone for ever fair and bright. There hammer on the anvil smote,
There chisel clove, and graver wrote; There forged was blade, and bound was hilt;
The delver mined, the mason built. There beryl, pearl, and opal pale,
And metal wrought like fishes’ mail, Buckler and corslet, axe and sword,
And shining spears were laid in hoard. Unwearied then were Durin’s folk;
Beneath the mountains music woke: The harpers harped, the minstrels sang,
And at the gates the trumpets rang. The world is grey, the mountains old,
The forge’s fire is ashen-cold; No harp is wrung, no hammer falls:
The darkness dwells in Durin’s halls; The shadow lies upon his tomb
In Moria, in Khazad-dûm. But still the sunken stars appear
In dark and windless Mirrormere; There lies his crown in water deep,
Till Durin wakes again from sleep. ‘I like that!’ said Sam. ‘I should like to learn it. In Moria, in
Khazad-dûm! But it makes the darkness seem heavier, thinking
of all those lamps. Are there piles of jewels and gold lying about
here still?’ Gimli was silent. Having sung his song he would say no more. ‘Piles of jewels?’ said Gandalf. ‘No. The Orcs have often plundered
Moria; there is nothing left in the upper halls. And since the dwarves
fled, no one dares to seek the shafts and treasuries down in the deep
places: they are drowned in water – or in a shadow of fear.’ ‘Then what do the dwarves want to come back
for?’ asked Sam. ‘For mithril,’ answered Gandalf. ‘The wealth of Moria was not in
gold and jewels, the toys of the Dwarves; nor in iron, their servant. Such things they found here, it is true, especially
iron; but they did not need to delve for them: all things that
they desired they could obtain in traffic. For here alone in the world was found Moria-silver,
or true-silver as some have called it: mithril is the Elvish name. The
Dwarves have a name which they do not tell. Its worth was ten times
that of gold, and now it is beyond price; for little is left above ground,
and even the Orcs dare not delve here for it. The lodes lead away
north towards Caradhras, and down to darkness. The Dwarves tell
no tale; but even as mithril was the foundation of their wealth, so
also it was their destruction: they delved too greedily and too deep,
and disturbed that from which they fled, Durin’s Bane. Of what they
brought to light the Orcs have gathered nearly all, and given it in
tribute to Sauron, who covets it. ‘Mithril! All folk desired it. It could be beaten like copper, and
polished like glass; and the Dwarves could make of it a metal, light
and yet harder than tempered steel. Its beauty was like to that of
common silver, but the beauty of mithril did not tarnish or grow dim. The Elves dearly loved it, and among many
uses they made of it ithildin, starmoon, which you saw upon the
doors. Bilbo had a corslet
of mithril-rings that Thorin gave him. I wonder what has become of
it? Gathering dust still in Michel Delving Mathom-house,
I suppose.’ ‘What?’ cried Gimli, startled out of his silence. ‘A corslet of Moria-silver? That was a kingly gift!’ ‘Yes,’ said Gandalf. ‘I never told him, but its worth was greater
than the value of the whole Shire and everything in it.’ Frodo said nothing, but he put his hand under
his tunic and touched the rings of his mail-shirt. He felt staggered to think that he
had been walking about with the price of the Shire under his jacket. Had Bilbo known? He felt no doubt that Bilbo knew quite well. It
was indeed a kingly gift. But now his thoughts had been carried away
from the dark Mines, to Rivendell, to Bilbo, and to Bag End in the
days while Bilbo was still there. He wished with all his heart that he
was back there, and in those days, mowing the lawn, or pottering
among the flowers, and that he had never heard of Moria, or mithril
– or the Ring. Thank you for watching. And that’s it from me Chris, aka the Philosopher’s
Games, for Tolkien Reading Day. I had thought about some other passages too. E.g. the Weathertop part, but I already covered
that one recently in a video. I hope you enjoyed it. If so consider leaving a comment or pressing
the like button – same goes for the videos of my colleagues too. And I wish you all a lot of fun with those. Again thank you for watching, stay healthy
in these difficult times and goodbye.


  1. Hi, here is the playlist to the other video of this collaboration + direct links, enjoy 🙂

    ► Other Tolkien Reading Day videos:
    Playlist – https://www.youtube.com/playlist?list=PLLyHBx6FRJC2U3vPw_CQeF-5mJvfSoAiQ

    Nerd of the Rings – https://youtu.be/GLRAPXPewgg
    Men of the West – https://youtu.be/watch?v=VD6gBmk6Prk
    Tolkien Lore – https://youtu.be/wBD5mKPnAxg
    History of Middle-earth – https://youtu.be/jrkSxOETqq8
    Lore of Middle-Earth – https://youtu.be/6XIhfkeG-vU

    ► Artwork:
    Kimberly80 – https://www.deviantart.com/kimberly80
    BeneF – https://www.deviantart.com/benef

  2. Just to let you know Chris (because you certainly seem to be a perfectionist with languages). "gnarled" is pronounced with a silent "g" so it's spoken: "narled".
    Thanks for another fantastic LotR video!! Much appreciated 😊👍🏽

  3. Me: I'll just randomly watch this
    Also Me: OMG!!! It's 40 mins away from the 25th of March, and I'm in the middle of a completely different series😢

  4. I’m glad I know your name now, Chris. Just wanted you to know I enjoy your videos. They are helping me keep sane with everything going on and I’m looking forward to the next!

  5. 8:50 the benefits of joining the discord 🤣
    But I am slightly disappointed you didn't actually sing 🙂

  6. Thanks for that. Gimli's part gave me a really strong nostalgia trip. Not saying I'm old but I remember Sunday afternoons, waiting in excited anticipation, with my finger poised over the red record button of my radio cassette player. Happy days! All the actors were great but Douglas Livingstone's Gimli was one of the stand out performances for me and your reading triggered happy memories:)

  7. I'm finally reading through LOTR after over 20 years. Got a big new TV and thought, time for another watch through of the movies and all the goodie (been a long while), then I saw the trilogy at a thrift store (my original copy, my aunt's, felt apart page by page nearly as I read it that first time).

    I love the difference in the book in Durins(?) tomb, as Gandalf casts a bind on the door and the Balrog casts to break it. Such simple language when he describes it as "terrible" and how it nearly "broke him" so that even he has to stop and rest on the stairs before continuing down. Such an amazing set of scenes both in the book and on the screen.

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *