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The Black Gate is Closed

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The Two Towers chapters
Book III
  1. The Departure of Boromir
  2. The Riders of Rohan
  3. The Uruk-hai
  4. Treebeard
  5. The White Rider
  6. The King of the Golden Hall
  7. Helm's Deep
  8. The Road to Isengard
  9. Flotsam and Jetsam
  10. The Voice of Saruman
  11. The Palantír
Book IV
  1. The Taming of Sméagol
  2. The Passage of the Marshes
  3. The Black Gate is Closed
  4. Of Herbs and Stewed Rabbit
  5. The Window on the West
  6. The Forbidden Pool
  7. Journey to the Cross-Roads
  8. The Stairs of Cirith Ungol
  9. Shelob's Lair
  10. The Choices of Master Samwise

The Black Gate is Closed is the third chapter of the fourth book in The Two Towers.


Frodo, Sam, and Gollum finally arrive at the gates of Mordor. They behold the Teeth of Mordor, the tall towers built earlier by the Men of Gondor after the fall of Sauron, but then later reoccupied by the Dark Lord upon his return to power.

At the sight of the closely guarded gate, Sam wonders how they will enter. Gollum replies that they must not enter, prompting Sam to ask why they bothered traveling to Mordor in the first place if they cannot go inside. Gollum replies that he fulfilled his part of the agreement, guiding the Hobbits to the gate. Sam is angry, again asking why they bothered going to Mordor at all. Frodo affirms that he must enter Mordor at all costs. At the Hobbits’ insistence, Gollum admits that there is another way into the kingdom, a secret way that he discovered earlier. Sam distrusts Gollum, but the Hobbits have little choice but to follow the creature’s lead. Frodo reminds Gollum that he has sworn by his “Precious” to guide them safely and not betray them. Gollum directs Sam and Frodo toward a road that bends south around Mordor, telling them that the road extends for a hundred leagues, but warning that they should not go that way. Frodo asks if there is a third way. Gollum admits that there is a third path running around to the back of the kingdom, past a fortress built long ago by tall Men with shining eyes. Frodo realizes that Gollum refers to the former fortress of Isildur, the warrior who defeated Sauron and won the Ring from him. Part of the fortress is a tall tower called the Tower of the Moon. Sam asks whether the tower is occupied, and Gollum replies that it is guarded by Orcs and by even worse creatures called Silent Watchers. Sam remarks that this third path sounds just as risky as the first one, but Gollum says the Dark Lord is focusing his attention elsewhere. Gollum admits that the rear path past the Tower of the Moon is dangerous, but that it is worth trying. The hobbits are suspicious, but they accept Gollum’s advice. Four Nazgûl appear in the sky overhead, and the hobbits know that Sauron is observing them. Frodo and Sam grab their knives, but they know that escape is impossible. Gollum senses that other Men are heading toward Mordor too—Men with long dark hair, gold rings, and red flags. He describes them as very fierce, saying that he has never seen anything like them. There are always Men entering Mordor now. Sam asks whether the men have Oliphaunts with them, as he has heard the creatures described in old poetry. Gollum has never seen an Oliphaunt. He urges the hobbits to sleep through the daylight hours, and proceed again at night.