A Journey in the Dark

From Tolkien Gateway
A Journey in the Dark
Chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring
EventThe Company enters Moria; they discover that Balin is dead.
Date13-14 January 3019
LocationThe Mines of Moria
PerspectiveFrodo, Samwise, and Pippin
Preceded byThe Ring goes South
Followed byThe Bridge of Khazad-dûm

A Journey in the Dark is the fourth chapter of the second book in The Fellowship of the Ring.


Gandalf told the fellowship that the only way under the mountains was through the Mines of Moria, underground tunnels in which a group of Dwarves led by Balin had disappeared years ago.

When they reached the gates of Moria, the gate-stream had been dammed and the entrance was flooded. Gandalf let the pony free and sent it back to Rivendell. Finding the runes on the gate, the Fellowship pondered a riddle: the quote, "Speak 'friend', and enter." Merry alone of the fellowship was on the right track, and he helped Gandalf find the answer. Gandalf used the secret password, "mellon", to gain them entrance. Before they could go in, though, they were attacked by a tentacled water creature, the Watcher in the Water, that particularly targeted Frodo. To escape, they all went into the Mines, but the Watcher destroyed the entrance behind them. They had no choice but to go forward through the Mines.

Fissures and chasms made their path treacherous. Samwise was reminded that he should have carried rope with him. At one point, they entered a stone doorway and found a deep well inside it. Pippin threw a stone into it out of impulse, and they began to hear a tapping, as if someone was using a hammer. They walked on for as long as they could, coming to many paths and crossroads, resting little and eating less. The Mines of Moria were famous for silver mithril and it was in search of this that Balin and his Dwarves had come to Moria. Gandalf told them that Bilbo had a coat of mail armour made of mithril and Frodo marvelled when he realised that Bilbo had gifted him with a suit of armour with a value worth the whole of the Shire.

When they continued on their journey the next day, they came upon a tomb and Gandalf read what was written on it. They realise that the tomb belonged to Balin son of Fundin. Frodo was sorry when he realised that Bilbo's good friend and companion was dead.


Tolkien probably composed the chapter (then called "The Mines of Moria") in 1939, and when the Fellowship found the Tomb, Tolkien stopped writing for a long time, and probably resumed around August 1940. In The Lord of the Rings Foreword (written more than 20 years later) Tolkien mistakenly recollects this hiatus a year later.[1][2]

In his revision c. 1941, Tolkien rewrote the first part of the episode, eventually past the point of the Tomb, and moved to the next chapter where the Fellowship exits Moria.[1]


  1. 1.0 1.1 Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull (eds), The Lord of the Rings: A Reader's Companion, p. xxiii
  2. J.R.R. Tolkien, Christopher Tolkien (ed.), The Return of the Shadow, "The Story Continued: XXV. The Mines of Moria", p. 461