Wednesday, September 21, 2016

Gimli cast his hood over his face.

The Company stood silent beside the tomb of Balin. Frodo thought of Bilbo and his long friendship with the dwarf, and of Balin's visit to the Shire long ago. In that dusty chamber in the mountains it seemed a thousand years ago and on the other side of the world.

At length they stirred and looked up, and began to search for anything that would give them tidings of Balin's fate ...

'I fear the book had ill tidings to record ...' said Gandalf. 'The first clear word is sorrow, but the rest of the line is lost, unless it ends in estre. Yes, it must be yestre followed by day being the tenth of novembre Balin lord of Moria fell in Dimrill Dale. He went alone to look in Mirror mere. an orc shot him from behind a stone. we slew the orc, but many more ... up from east up the Silverlode. ... Poor Balin! He seems to have kept the title that he took for less than five years.'
--from The Fellowship of the Ring

I'm a bit of a night owl. This admission is no surprise to people who know me, but it also means that I'm used to the night sky and darkness in general. There were days at a previous job when I'd go to work early (3 AM local time) and leave at 7 PM, and in the winter I'd never see the sun in the sky.*

But after a few weeks of Moria, I've started craving the sun.

Although I may play one on LOTRO, I'm no elf. I don't mind urban environments, and as a kid I wanted to be an astrophysicist**, so I was fine with staying up all night working on telescopes. Khazad-dum, however, is a completely different animal.

Sure, there are places where there are wide open caverns that give the impression of space, but you're still enclosed under a mountain of rock.***

At least somebody has a sense of humor in this Valar forsaken place.
There's plenty to enjoy about the Mines of Moria, however, I can't shake the sense of impending doom. Sure, I know what happened to Durin's Bane courtesy of The Fellowship of the Ring, but that doesn't mean that the devs don't have more tricks up their sleeves. After all, the last third of Shadows of Angmar was a case study in an increasingly futile attempt to stop Angmar's inevitable victory in the North.

Having just completed the Waterworks (minus the raid part), all I can think of is that Balin and Company certainly weren't unprepared, and Balin himself was a shrewd and wise Dwarf. Was he simply blind to the reality of Durin's Bane, or did he think he'd marshaled enough forces to overcome what the entire Dwarf city of Khazad-dum could not? Of course, the expedition in the Expac is fortuitous in that a major obstacle (the Balrog) is removed, but the Balrog itself didn't destroy Balin's expedition; it was everyone else who'd moved into the Mines since the Dwarves fled who did it in.

(One of these days I should just go look up Stephen Colbert and shoot the breeze with him about whether he thought that Moria was reclaimed in the Fourth Age.)

*I would get in early so I could actually, you know, get work done. the 4-5 hours of (almost) nobody around meant that nobody would stop by and talk to me about stuff, so it meant I could focus on my large pile of work to do.

**I figured that since I was nearsighted --and consequently unable to sign up to be a fighter pilot-- going the science route would be the best way to qualify for the astronaut corps. There's one family story about when my grandmother asked me what I wanted to be when I grew up and I said "An Astrophysicist!" A puzzled look crept across her face, and she turned to my mom. In a loud whisper, she asked "What IS that?" "I don't know!" my mom whispered back.

***I've visited a couple of artificial caverns created by mining limestone (and Detroit has underground salt mines that I've not visited but are similar in scope), and the spaces created are similar but on a smaller scale. The closest I can describe it is the 21st Hall in terms of columns preventing the ceiling from collapsing, as I doubt Tolkien had the mining knowledge to understand how to tie the ceiling into the bedrock above and prevent the ceiling from collapsing. Tolkien could understand columns, however.

No comments:

Post a Comment