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As they explore the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, hosts Alan Sisto and Shawn E. Marchese welcome readers of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and the other works in the Middle-earth legendarium to tune in as they discuss favorite passages from the books and films that started the worldwide fantasy phenomenon. Alan and Shawn engage in plenty of in-depth study of Tolkien's books, but with a healthy dose of self-effacing humor, pop-culture references, and bad puns. These are the ...
 
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Frodo and Sam follow their travel guide Gollum through the Dead Marshes — it’s not the tour package we would have chosen, but who are we to judge? — and are far more shaken up than Gollum is by the fact that the marshes actually have, y’know, dead in them. But never mind the terrifying things below, because there’s a new terrifying thing above maki…
 
Sméagol proves to be willing and able to show Frodo and Sam the way to Mordor, now that his promise on the Precious keeps him from running away (though Sting is still at hand to police him if necessary). But Gollum proves he’ll always be king of pain when he totally overreacts to the elf-smell coming off the lembas his companions are eating. Once h…
 
Alan and Shawn welcome John Howe to the Prancing Pony Podcast! Over the past several decades John has established himself as one of the most enduringly popular Middle-earth artists, and his work has appeared in numerous books and calendars (including the Tolkien Calendar 2021), and earned him a role as a conceptual artist for Peter Jackson’s The Ho…
 
Gollum is disinclined to acquiesce to Frodo’s request to lead them to Mordor, and he tries to escape when he thinks the hobbits aren’t looking. Sam has thirty ells’ worth of good reasons for Gollum to stay put, but the Elvish rope burns his skin (as of publication, Lothlórien Ropeworks has not issued a recall, and neither Haldir nor “One of Those F…
 
Three episodes into the chapter, we finally meet Sméagol… and the other fellow sharing his brain. Sam jumps the creeping, crawling creature at the bottom of the cliff, which goes about as well for Master Gamgee as one might expect. Fortunately, Frodo’s got his back, and the sight of Sting convinces Gollum that if he loves some precious, he should s…
 
The shrieking cry of what might sound like a Ringwraith if they weren’t destroyed forever at the Ford of Bruinen (They were, right? Right!?) makes Frodo lose his grip and his sight while climbing down a cliff. He manages to land on his feet on a ledge not far below, but he can’t get back up or down without a rope, which Sam just so happens to have,…
 
We finally begin our readthrough of Book IV of The Lord of the Rings with “The Taming of Sméagol”! All alone after fleeing Parth Galen, Frodo and Sam are lost among the barren slopes of the Emyn Muil, seeking a way down to the stinking bog below (zero stars for this hiking tour). But how alone are they, really? Are the two eyes following them attac…
 
One does not simply walk into Mordor without a recap, so before we start our readthrough of Book IV of The Lord of the Rings, we’re reviewing previous chapters to reacquaint ourselves with a couple of characters we haven’t seen for a while (no one special; just Frodo and Sam, the guys whose mission really matters here). After a look back at the sto…
 
It’s our first live Q&A episode of the season, which means Alan and Shawn have got our speculating caps on for another round of questions from our guests! We field questions on the married life of the Valar (but not in the way you’re thinking), the size of Hobbit feet, and an almost forgotten fight between Galadriel and Dol Guldur. Plus, opinions o…
 
For the second time in history, Alan and Shawn throw a party of special magnificence to celebrate a milestone: 222 episodes of the PPP! Once again, we look back at some of our best moments from the past eleventy-one episodes, as chosen by our listeners. From foolish digressions to inappropriate pop culture references, smart observations to great re…
 
We start our sixth season in style by welcoming Carl F. Hostetter to the podcast! In addition to his role as chief editor of Vinyar Tengwar, Carl has authored articles on Tolkien’s languages for decades. We catch up with him about his lifetime of scholarship and his highly anticipated new edition of unpublished manuscripts by Tolkien himself: The N…
 
While Gandalf and Aragorn ponder the evening’s events and finally identify the object of Pippin’s affections as the palantír of Orthanc, a Nazgûl flies overhead — which means it’s time for Gandalf and the sticky-fingered Took to exit, stage east. And as Shadowfax carries them over the plains at breakneck speed (not that any necks will be broken, we…
 
With the Saruman situation handled, Gandalf settles in for a leisurely journey back to Helm’s Deep with Merry dangling behind him. Pippin, however, is obsessing over the shiny, round and apparently indestructible object Wormtongue threw out the window… and when nightfall comes, his Fool-of-a-Tookishness gets the better of him. We begin to investiga…
 
Unable to persuade Théoden, Saruman now tries to sway Gandalf, not realizing his former underling has gotten a promotion and executive sponsorship for his project since the last time they touched base. As before, Saruman totters between slick sweet-talking and explosive rage until finally Gandalf — amused/not amused — strips him of his staff and pl…
 
Fully fed, fully caught up, and fully reeking of pipe-weed, our heroes enter Isengard, where Gandalf demands to speak with Saruman at the foot of Orthanc. The Until-recently-white Wizard refuses to come down or let visitors in, but the White-now-and-check-out-my-new-skills Wizard manages to get his attention, and the parley begins. But although Sar…
 
It’s time for another live Q&A episode, this time with more questions than ever before heard on a single episode of the Prancing Pony Podcast! Join Alan and Shawn as we field questions on Entish names, thralldom in Valinor, the unbearable vagueness of Gandalf, and the powers of the Elven Rings. A conversation about the importance of refuge in Middl…
 
The epic flashback continues as Pippin and Merry continue their story with a play-by-play account of the destruction of Isengard, expertly managed by their new partners at Fangorn, Bregalad and Associates. We catch up on Wormtongue’s whereabouts since being forcibly relocated, and see why Treebeard’s not giving up his day job to be a swim instructo…
 
The reunited members of the Fellowship of the Ring (minus Gandalf, who’s off hobnobbing with kings and trees) get some valuable bro time amid the flotsam and jetsam of Isengard. Merry and Pippin have a lot to account for — and an angry Dwarf to appease — so they ply their friends with salted pork and pipe-weed while catching them up on the story si…
 
The company reaches Isengard and discovers that property values have tanked in recent months, and it’s no wonder why when they see how poorly Saruman’s been maintaining his yard. Holes in the ground fume and glow with unnatural light, the place is flooded, and piles of stone and broken masonry hint at some recent battle. But strangest of all to the…
 
As the company exits the mysterious forest, Legolas looks back and is enchanted by the trees and their eyes — a perfectly ordinary thing for trees to have, obviously. Before Gimli makes a run for it out of pure self-preservation, Legolas is snapped out of it by Gandalf, who offers no real explanation (again) and urges them to press on along the roa…
 
After a long night, the heroes of Helm’s Deep reunite on the grass by a stream near a forest that, uh, wasn’t there yesterday… but we’ll get to that later. Legolas and Gimli check the final score of Uruk Slayfest 3019, showing the Dwarf ahead by a head, but less interested in bragging rights than in the Glittering Caves he found in the Deep. Gandal…
 
If you missed out on the PPP’s first-ever digital moot, here’s a chance to hear what you missed — or relive it, if you were there — in this episode recorded live during the second day of the moot! Alan and Shawn invited all attendees to join and ask any question, and they did… from fate and free will in Tolkien’s works (again), to underwater SPBMI,…
 
An explosion rocks the Deeping Wall, and soon there are more as Saruman’s blasting fires make what little hope the heroes had go up in smoke. But as dawn approaches, Aragorn still believes that victory may come with the new day, and Théoden realizes it’s better to burn out than fade away. We see Gimli’s martial prowess on display, investigate what …
 
The Rohirrim, led by Théoden and Éomer (with lots of help from Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli), man the Deeping Wall and the Hornburg as Saruman’s assault on Helm’s Deep begins. A quick flash of lightning in the darkness reveals overwhelming odds, but Aragorn and Éomer draw swords together and keep morale high, even while rammers nearly break through …
 
Théoden and Gandalf lead the host of the Rohirrim towards the fords of the Isen to strengthen the forces holding back Saruman’s army. But when they meet a rider coming back from the front line with news of defeat, Théoden takes Gandalf’s counsel and changes course for Helm’s Deep and the mighty fortress of the Hornburg. We look at Unfinished Tales …
 
Théoden offers Wormtongue one last chance to redeem himself, but the counsellor is disinclined to acquiesce to his lord’s request. As Gríma’s stain is (literally) washed away, Gandalf and the king catch up on the history of Saruman’s treachery and the damage already done in Rohan before riding out to do something about it, leaving the fearless and …
 
Upon entering the Golden Hall, Gandalf is challenged once again; this time by Wormtongue, the king’s counsellor who may not exactly have Rohan’s best interests in mind. Gandalf puts the worm in its place (before Gimli can dissect it for smack-talking Galadriel) and then leads Théoden out into the light, to healing and hope for victory against Iseng…
 
Our heroes ride up the long and winding road that leads to Théoden’s door, but first they have to get through two sets of guards. Fortunately, Gandalf’s polyglottal talents get them through the first gate into Edoras, and they’ll be allowed into Meduseld itself just as long as they check their weapons at the door… their ancient, irreplaceable, pric…
 
Before we return to The Lord of the Rings for the further adventures of The White Rider and Friends in Rohan, we spend some time in the common-room with listeners for another quarterly live Q&A episode! Current events with Saruman at Isengard are clearly on the minds of many, as we field questions about Ol’ Many Colors himself and the Ents who’ve u…
 
Happy Tolkien Reading Day! On March 25 every year — the date of the fall of Barad-dûr — Tolkien lovers worldwide celebrate by reading the Professor’s works. A theme is chosen by The Tolkien Society every year, and for 2021 the theme is Hope and Courage. Join us for our sixth annual celebration of this international event, as Alan and Shawn courageo…
 
The newly-minted Gandalf the White advises the Three Hunters to leave the Hobbits in the strong, twiggy hands of Treebeard and go to Edoras. They agree, but Legolas still wants to know how Gandalf is — y’know, not dead — launching the wizard into a brief account of his fight with Durin’s Bane, and your hosts into an epic series of sidebars about Ga…
 
The old man is revealed to be an old friend: Gandalf the (Formerly) Grey, returned beyond hope from death in battle with the Balrog of Moria. Enhanced in power and in insight, Gandalf gets caught up on the news he missed while he was out; and then offers some wisdom to his companions about Sauron, Saruman, and the power hidden in the forest. Danger…
 
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli follow the trail of the missing hobbits, gradually drawing closer to the forbidding fringes of Fangorn Forest. They find new signs that give them hope, but the Dwarf can’t forget about the mysterious old man, and the trees don’t seem to be taking too kindly to his axe. Soon the old man appears again, leading to a surprisi…
 
We welcome the acclaimed illustrator Ted Nasmith back to The Prancing Pony Podcast for his first full-length interview! We catch up with Ted about life, art, and everything else since we last spoke to him at Tolkien 2019, including the recent publication of the illustrated edition of Unfinished Tales and teasers about the new illustrated edition of…
 
Waiting for the Ents to make a decision turns out to be an exercise in patience for Merry and Pippin, until Treebeard mercifully excuses them from the proceedings. He leaves them in the company of Quickbeam: a younger, hastier Ent who’s about as hobbitish as they come (admittedly, a low bar). We get to the rocky bottom of the relationship between E…
 
At Wellinghall, Merry and Pippin learn more about the Ents’ hope for the future (in song form!) and get some sleep — horizontally — before leaving in the morning for Entmoot under the protective bough of Treebeard. Ents soon arrive in a startling variety of shapes, sizes, and likenesses, and begin a meeting to get to the root of the Saruman problem…
 
After hearing Merry and Pippin’s account of their recent adventures, Treebeard starts talking (and doesn’t stop) about wizards, ecopolitics, and “the one that got away”. Unfortunately, spokesplants for Fimbrethil and the Entwives have not responded to requests for comment, and we won’t hold our breath waiting for them to. But at least now Treebeard…
 
Merry and Pippin travel deeper into Fangorn Forest with a guided tour (really more of a picked-up-and-carried tour) provided by Treebeard. Their host may be more wooden than Alan and Shawn, but he’s both informative and entertaining, singing songs and telling stories about the forest and the Ents themselves. Soon they arrive at Wellinghall, where h…
 
Escaping from mortal danger into deadly peril, Merry and Pippin wander into Fangorn Forest. The place seems more strange than scary, but it’s far from welcoming; and an offhand comment by Pippin about almost liking the forest attracts the attention of the local plant life. Is the mysterious Ent all bark and no bite? Or will it tear the hobbits limb…
 
Following up on our previous examination of race in Tolkien’s work in Episode 114, today we welcome listeners of different racial and ethnic backgrounds to join us and share their experiences of Tolkien’s works and fandom. By looking beyond the author's own views and intentions, we hope to gain a better understanding of the actual impact of Tolkien…
 
Now ringed in by the Rohirrim, the Orcs wait for reinforcements, all the while continuing their civilized parliamentary deliberations. On the committee agenda: 1. You’re a maggot. 2. That guy’s an ape. 3. Consideration of a motion for a vote of no confidence in Uglúk. Grishnákh seizes an opportunity — and the prisoners — but Pippin thinks quickly a…
 
The Hobbits continue their zero-star walking tour of Rohan, trudging along with the Orcs in an endless tunnel of misery with nary a pub nor a B&B in sight. But the feel of wet grass between his hairy toes gives Pippin an idea, and he breaks away from the beaten path for just long enough to leave a message for any friend who may be following them: a…
 
Looks like meat’s back on the menu as we pick up the tale of Pippin and Merry and their delightful hosts: an army of Orcs on their way to Isengard. Merry is apparently down for the count, but Pippin takes in their surroundings and gradually begins to piece together an escape plan. We learn way more about Orkish medicine than we ever wanted to, offe…
 
While Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli look for their horses, we welcome listeners to the common-room for our last live Q&A episode of 2020! As always, the questions are unrehearsed, so hearing us muddle through head-scratchers like “Do Orcs have free will?” is as entertaining as expected. We speculate on what Lobelia might have done if the One Ring had …
 
Éomer bends the rules “just this once” to let the wanderers go free in Rohan, and even lends them cocon— uh, horses* to ride, on the condition that after they find the bodies— uh, their friends*, they return the rentals to Edoras in good condition and hand the keys back directly to Théoden King. They ride quickly to the Entwash and camp near the ed…
 
Éomer, Third Marshal of the Riddermark, demands proper identification from the Three Hunters, and Aragorn gives it to him by name-dropping a lineage going back three thousand years and unsheathing a sword even older than that. In one of the greatest “okaayyy” moments in Tolkien’s legendarium, Éomer accepts their explanation and proceeds to catch th…
 
The Three Hunters continue their pursuit across the plains, their hearts growing wearier due to the physical effects of Saruman’s opposing will. A new sunrise brings new counsel, and a chance meeting (if chance you call it) with an éored of Rohan’s finest; but the Riders are strong and bold, much like the cocon— er, horses they ride, and they don’t…
 
Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pursue the Orcs taking Merry and Pippin through Rohan, where the folk of Eorl raise the greatest cocon— uh, horses. Real-life horses. But the Orcs are moving quickly, not stopping by night or by day; and for the three weary hunters to stop and rest might mean losing their trail. We pause to remember some late-October dat…
 
The three remaining members of the Fellowship of the Ring (as far as they know) prepare Boromir for his last journey down the Anduin, and as the son of Denethor floats away they eulogize their fallen comrade… in song form! Then it’s back to business as they solve the riddle of what happened to the hobbits, and as they weigh their decision of which …
 
Still searching for Frodo after the chaotic events of the previous chapter, Aragorn is interrupted by the sound of Boromir’s horn. He arrives on the scene just in time to bid farewell to the fallen hero, and for Shawn to atone for all the Boromir-bashing he did last season. Soon Legolas and Gimli arrive, and the trio investigate the scene to determ…
 
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