I hosted a group read over the summer of The Hobbit and Lord of the Rings called Puttin' the Blog in Balrog. It was a lot of fun and many people participated. Condensed below are my posts for this book. If you'd like to read the rest (or see what the other participants posted), you can find links to everything here.When we left our little group, they'd started to fracture. Boromir tried to steal the Ring from Frodo, so Frodo and Sam took off for Mordor by themselves. Boromir came back and gave a fictional recounting of what had happened atop the hill and Aragorn sent him to follow Pippin and Merry to keep them safe.Here, we find out that Boromir TRIED to keep them safe, but the halflings were taken by orcs and Boromir was killed. But not before he admits to Aragorn that he tried to take the Ring and that he feels WAY BAD about it. The song Aragorn and Legolas sing for Boromir makes me cry, but Gimli's comment that they've left the East Wind for him ALWAYS makes me sob.Aragorn decides to keep this information to himself. He, Gimli and Legolas decide it will be easier/quicker to give him a burial at sea river with all of his weapons than to try to light a pyre or build a cairn.They then take off RUNNING after the group of orcs that absconded with Merry and Pippin.Summary of the next thirty pagesrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunrunMuch running, then talking about whether to keep running, then MORE running, then MORE talking about running - am I the only one imagining the conversation happening while they're jogging in place? [shrug]So, they find hobbit prints and one of the little brooches given to them in Lothlorien. What does this mean? Are they safe, or were they killed. Only one way to find out. MOAR RUNNING!Before they actually catch up with the band of orcs and Uruk-hai (bearing the mark of Saruman, no less), they meet a bunch of Rohirrim. ROHAAAAAN!We meet Éomer [sigh] who tells them. The Rohirrim have already killed all the orcs. There were no little people among them. They shouldn't go bandying around Gandalf's name, cos he's kind of persona non grata after taking off with Shadowfax.There's some palavering, and Éomer gives them two horses (because Gimli doesn't like to ride anymore than Samwise likes boats), which our three ride to the pile of burnt orc carcasses.BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO PIPPIN AND MERRY?!Well! They were forced to run and drink Orcish energy drinks to keep running and they were almost eaten several times AND they witnessed several orc fights, but! The Rohirrim show up and pen them all in and there's a mighty fight. Pip and Merry only just escape because an orc that was trying to take off with them made the mistake of pulling out his knife (not a euphemism) and was killed by one of Éomer's men.Their awesome cloaks allow them to escape detection, and they go crawling off into Fangorn EVEN THOUGH Elrond told them way back in Rivendell that it was a stupid idea.This is where they meet.... TREEBEARD!(Yes, I know we've used this picture before, shut up - it makes us happy.)So, Treebeard is an Ent. What's an Ent?Man-like, almost Troll-like, figure, at least fourteen foot high, very sturdy, with a tall head, and hardly any neck. Whether it was clad in stuff like green and grey bark, or whether that was its hide, was difficult to say. At any rate the arms, at a short distance from the trunk, were not wrinkled, but covered with a brown smooth skin. The large feet had seven toes each. The lower part of the long face was covered with a sweeping grey beard, bushy, almost twiggy at the roots, thin and mossy at the ends. But at the moment the hobbits noted little but the eyes. These deep eyes were now surveying them, slow and solemn, but very penetrating.Not to be confused with Huorns, which Treebeard doesn't like to talk about, but they appear to have been Ents that became more treeish? It's all very confusing.Anyway, Treebeard comes across a little Dread Pirate Roberts-y at first.Good night, Pippin and Merry. Good work. Sleep well. I'll most likely kill you in the morning.Okay, so maybe he didn't say that, but this whole first section here is mostly just set up for the stuff that's coming later, so you can't blame me for trying to make it a little funnier, can you?Treebeard takes Pippin and Merry back to his Enthouse, gives them a drink of something that will come into play later on and has them tell him all about everything that's happened so far. Ents take a long time to do anything, but Treebeard is quick to anger when he learns of Saruman's dastardly deeds, so he calls an Entmoot. Before people started misusing 'mute' for 'moot,' it actually meant a meeting, so it's exactly what it sounds like. An Ent Meeting.All the Ents meet and talk for three or four days and the hobbits are entertained by the youngest Ent, whose mind is already made up. AND THEN! DECISION MADE! The ents go to war! YAY!Back with our running trio, they've found Pippin and Merry's footprints heading into Fangorn, and decide to also ignore Elrond's advice because they go into the forest after them.This turns out to not be such a bad idea, though, because guess who they meet?GANDALF, YAY! Only, he is no longer Gandalf the Grey, he's all in white now and makes a comment about how he's there to replace Saruman.I am Saruman, or rather Saruman as he should have been.But wait, Gandalf! We totally saw the Balrog take you down? What happened there?Well, there was a huge fight with the Balrog that lasted a VERY long time (eight days, I think?). The Balrog DID die (and destroyed the side of the mountain when he fell), but Gandalf died as well. He spent an undetermined time wandering the void before he was resurrected as Gandalf the White.Then there's a bit of an argument with Aragorn about going to Minas Tirith or ROHAAAAAAN! Gandalf wins, obvs, and calls to Shadowfax to bring some other horses with them so they can ride.SOOOOOOOOOOO, Gandalf, Legolas, Gimli and Aragorn were all riding to ROHAAAAAAAAAN. There's a lot of enmity towards Gandalf there for a few reasons. He's usually seen as the bearer of bad news. Wormtongue.Okay, seriously. Why does anyone give any credence to anything someone named WORMTONGUE says? Really? Why. I don't get this.Háma lets Gandalf take his staff into meet Théoden, even though HE'S BEEN TOLD NOT TO. This can probably be attributed to the silver tongued deviltry we see later at Isengard between Gandalf and Saruman, yes? Anyway. What follows puts nothing in my head so much as a good old fashioned tent revival. Théoden, King of the Mark, has obviously been twisted and aged prematurely, but Gandalf yells at him and suddenly he's all better. I know it's horrible. I made it myself so of course it is. No, but seriously, it does make me laugh.Then, um...I just realized that my reading for comprehension was crap this week, guys. That means that instead of a total summary, I'm going to talk about things I want to talk about. *Battle of Hornburg. I know we haven't watched the movie yet, but Legolas clearly WISHES FOR MIRKWOOD ARCHERS THAT HE DOES NOT GET. I don't understand why it was necessary to have a billion elves show up at Helm's Deep, and then have most of them die. That. Did. Not. Happen. So, my reading of this part was totally clouded over by my anger at the movie. Also, PJ killed Haldir. WTS DID HALDIR EVER DO TO YOU, PJ?! Grrr. *Aragorn's "parley" with the Uruk-hai. "WE ARE THE FIGHTING URUK-HAI!" Um, yeah. We get it. You fight, that's what you do. Good for you guys, but, um...yeah - you're still about to get destroyed by the Huorns. Ha! Jerks. Also, the whole "We are the fighting Uruk-hai!" over and over made me think of this. *HUORNS KILLING ORCS! Loved this. So much. *Háma dies offscreen and we find out about it after the fact. This made me sadder this time because it reminded me of why I hated JKR for killing Lupin and Tonks and just showing us their bodies. I get that it's showing us what war is like, but fuuuuuuuuuuuuuu. [sad face] *Everyone else loved Pippin and Merry smoking their pipe-weed and Merry trying to give Théoden a history lesson when they meet him, right? Good. *Legolas would totally be one of those passive aggressive anti-smokers who fake coughs at people that are smoking across the street, I just know it. "I'm gonna go outside and watch the clouds while you smoke, even though I totally want to hear the story. HINTHINT." See? Meg's much better at bringing the funny. *Please keep in mind the Mystery of Halfling's Leaf at Isengard. It becomes kind of important later on. Seriously. *I know Kate talked about this a little today on her post, but I'm pretty sure that the Palantir is the first inanimate object we've seen that's actually immediately malevolent and exerts outside force. I don't buy this whole "BUT THE RING MADE HIM DO IT JUST BY BEING AROUND!" garbage for Boromir, and I don't remember having this discussion with anyone ever before the movies came out. This leads me to believe that everyone's mind has been corrupted by Peter Jackson's writing team. I still heart you even if you disagree with me, but I'm not going to talk about that because I'll get shouty. You can talk about it in the comments if you wish. *Oh, and Saruman's cloak that they couldn't tell what colour it was? Totally put this song in my head.Shut up. I love Dolly Parton.Once again, not enough room for everything. The recap/discussion is continued here.