The Taming of Sméagol

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The Taming of Sméagol
Chapter of The Two Towers
EventFrodo and Samwise meet Gollum and tame him.
Date26-30 February 3019
LocationEmyn Muil
PerspectiveFrodo and Samwise
Preceded byThe Palantír
Followed byThe Passage of the Marshes

The Taming of Sméagol is the first chapter of the second book in The Two Towers.


The narrative returns to Frodo and Sam on the third day after they departed from their companions at the end of The Fellowship of the Ring. The Hobbits wandered the barren slopes of the mountains called Emyn Muil, striving to make their way to Mordor, but frequently getting lost and having to retrace their steps. Standing on the edge of a tall cliff, they could see the way down into Mordor, but had no way to descend the cliff. Sam complained to Frodo about their desperate situation. He had been lugging cooking gear for days, but there was nothing to cook. The Hobbits survived only on old lembas cakes, and Sam yearned for a pint of beer and a chunk of bread. He expressed his hope that they had lost Gollum, the creature who had been pursuing them for some time. Frodo agreed, but said that he was more troubled by the unending hills of the landscape, which tortured his feet. He observed that there was no turning back, as Orc warriors now patrolled the banks of the river they had crossed.

Sam and Frodo continued to follow the cliff northward for several more days, finally arriving at a spot where it appeared they might be able to climb down. Sam insisted on going first, against Frodo’s objections. Sam lowered himself down the cliff without looking first to see where he was going, only to be pulled back to the edge by Frodo. The latter then began to climb down himself, when suddenly a great dark shape appeared far overhead with a horrible wind and a crack of thunder. Frodo tried to hide his face in fear, but he lost his foothold and fell down onto a ledge below. It began to rain. Sam suddenly remembered that he had a strong, thin Elf-rope in his bag. He measured it out, and found that it was long enough to allow the two hobbits to lower themselves to the ground below.

After descending safely, Sam and Frodo prepared to go onward to Mordor. Sam regretted abandoning the rope, which was still attached to a rock overhead and could not be untied. Suddenly, as if by magic, the rope was released and fell into his hands. Frodo suspected that the knot was not tied well, but both wondered whether it was perhaps enchantment that had freed the rope.

As the hobbits huddled in the cold, Frodo spotted a crawling insect-like creature on a distant cliff, clinging to the wall by its hands. Sam realized the creature was Gollum. As the creature drew nearer, he leapt on Sam. They wrestled. Frodo drew his knife Sting from its sheath and thrust it against Gollum's neck, forcing him to free Sam and demanding obedience from the creature. Gollum was suddenly subservient and vowed total servitude, but Frodo did not trust him entirely. Gollum suddenly bounded away, attempting escape. The hobbits got him back and harnessed him with the Elf-rope, which caused him great pain. Gollum again vowed obedience, and this time he seemed sincere. The creature led his Hobbit masters onward to Mordor.


After a long hiatus (Tolkien didn't progress the book during 1943) he resumed in Spring 1944, picking up the adventures of Frodo and Sam, and did some "painful work" on this chapter.[1][2]