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Exploring the life and work of J. R. R. Tolkien. Hosts Alan Sisto and Shawn E. Marchese welcome readers of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and the other works in the Middle-earth legendarium to tune in as they discuss favorite passages from the books and films that started the worldwide fantasy phenomenon.

Exploring the life and work of J. R. R. Tolkien. Hosts Alan Sisto and Shawn E. Marchese welcome readers of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and the other works in the Middle-earth legendarium to tune in as they discuss favorite passages from the books and films that started the worldwide fantasy phenomenon.
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Exploring the life and work of J. R. R. Tolkien. Hosts Alan Sisto and Shawn E. Marchese welcome readers of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and the other works in the Middle-earth legendarium to tune in as they discuss favorite passages from the books and films that started the worldwide fantasy phenomenon.




135 – Things You Don’t Want to Say No To: An Interview with Wayne Hammond & Christina Scull

We end Season 3 by welcoming Wayne G. Hammond and Christina Scull to the podcast! This renowned husband-wife team have co-authored some of the most essential books in Tolkien studies. In addition to several volumes on Tolkien’s art (such as J.R.R. Tolkien: Artist and Illustrator) they’ve given the world The Lord of the Rings: A Reader’s Companion, the recently-expanded J.R.R. Tolkien Companion and Guide, and much more. We talk about their many award-winning publications, hear how it feels...


134 – White Horses Could Drag Me Away

Strider is remarkably not disappointed that the Elf who’s overtaken them on the road is not his girlfriend. It’s Glorfindel of Rivendell; and for listeners who remember our episodes on the fall of Gondolin, we’ll not only answer the question of whether this Glorfindel is really that Glorfindel, we’ll also delve into Tolkien’s essays to understand what makes him so special. Plus, more questions about Elvish rebirth, a booth review on who attacked the Prancing Pony in the previous chapter,...


133 - It's Only Rock (Not Trolls) But I Like It

Strider’s path to Rivendell leads the hobbits through rough terrain; all the while, the days get colder and Frodo gradually succumbs to the evil effects of the Witch-king’s blade. A bad situation starts to look even worse when Pippin and Merry catch a glimpse of three trolls ahead — and if that sounds familiar to you, then you scored higher than they did. Sam surprises everyone again with a bit of his own poetry, we talk about the power of textual ruins with a Tolkien Quote of the Day, and...


132 - Ranger's Little Helper

Frodo awakens, wounded and bewildered, after the attack on Weathertop. Believing they’ve been led into a trap, Sam is certain (again) that Strider is not to be trusted, but the Ranger proves himself useful (again) by treating the wound with athelas, a healing herb of the Dúnedain. The wonder drug doesn’t work wonders, but it eases Frodo’s pain enough to resume the journey to Rivendell. We ponder the possibilities of troll architecture, celebrate a podcast milestone, and consider how Sauron...


131 - Visualizing Middle-earth: An Interview with Greg Hildebrandt

Alan and Shawn are pleased to welcome Greg Hildebrandt to the Prancing Pony Podcast! An iconic artist and illustrator, Greg (together with his twin brother Tim as the Brothers Hildebrandt) helped a generation of readers visualize Middle-earth in the Ballantine Books J.R.R. Tolkien Calendars from 1976 to 1978, and continues to create fantasy and sci-fi art to this day. Greg talked to us about his art and shared some incredible stories from his long and celebrated career, including the story...


130 - Questions After Nightfall 7

It’s our most Bombadilicious episode yet! Once again, Alan and Shawn open the common-room to listeners for live, unscripted questions that we answer on the spot as best we can. This time around we tackle several questions about Rings of Power (and the people who wear them), the optics of invisibility, and how not to purloin poultry. Also, some pre-finale Game of Thrones predictions that will seem absolutely hilarious now… and move over, Carolinas and Texas: Tuckborough-style barbecue might...


129 - Fooled on the Hill

Evening falls on Weathertop, and our heroes make camp beneath the stars with the Black Riders not far away. Strider tells stories to chase away their fears, covering most of The Silmarillion in a lot less time than we did. But in the darkest night, the Black Riders sneak up on the camp, and Frodo is suddenly overcome by a desire to disappear. We revisit the story of Beren and Lúthien, Alan alliterates again, and we solve several surprisingly similar listener questions about Ringwraiths.


128 - Magical Mystery Tour

Strider leads the hobbits through the mysterious (and not entirely comforting) ruins of ancient kingdoms of Men along the road to Weathertop, with the hope of meeting Gandalf there. The Ranger’s knowledge of ancient lore surprises the hobbits nearly as much as Sam’s does; and as they roll up to the hill, they discover they’re not the only ones to have been here recently. Plus, Strider still needs to lighten up, a listener shares a pro tip about reading Tolkien to kids at bedtime, and we...


127 - Twelve-Penny Lane

Black Riders attack the inn during the night, so Strider opts for an early check-out to get out of Bree quickly. They soon discover that Merry’s ponies are missing, delaying their departure; but Barliman, uh, ponies up the money to compensate their losses and buys them one underfed beast of burden for the road. Bill Ferny (now twelve silver pennies richer) sees the heroes off on their way out of town, and Sam repays his kind gesture with an apple. Also: more listener questions on the Rings...


126 - Noble Enough to Know What's Right

Frodo reads Gandalf’s letter, more concerned than ever at the wizard’s absence and the delay caused by Barliman. But at least the letter confirms Strider’s identity, and Frodo is wise enough to choose to trust him. Sam’s continued protests give the Ranger a chance to be tempted by the Ring, but he keeps his self-control; and before long Merry returns with a report that the Black Riders are much closer than they think. Also, we welcome Marquette University archivist Bill Fliss to talk about...


125 - A Writer and a Ranger

We begin with a review of the new biographical film Tolkien (spoilers: see below) before moving on to the first half of Book I, Chapter 10. Frodo, Sam, and Pippin retire to their parlor after the “accident” in the common-room, only to find the mysterious Ranger called Strider there with them. Strider seems to know a lot about their errand, but before Frodo can find out how, Barliman comes in with a not-exactly-rush delivery. We investigate the peculiar names of inns, mock the poverty of...


124 - Living in the Limelight

Cast in his unlikely role as “Mr. Underhill”, Frodo tries to keep a low profile at the Prancing Pony. But the attention he’s getting from a shady-looking Ranger approaches the unreal, and someone has to distract the room from the loose-lipped Pippin. Frodo handles the situation with insufficient tact, delivering a speech and a song that offer the Ring an opportunity to keep itself intact. Shawn gets on with the fascination of etymology, and Alan has way too much fun using sound effects to...


123 - Be Cool or Be Cast Out

Frodo and his friends make their way to Bree, and to an inn with a strangely familiar name, in the first half of “At the Sign of the Prancing Pony”. The Men of Bree are an independent people, cheerful and friendly as a rule… but Sam is nervous with all these Big Folk and bigger buildings about, and Frodo stays on his guard while Pippin makes friends with the Little Folk among the locals. We revisit the role of forests in the legendarium, offer tips on which Tolkien moot is right for you,...


122 - The Digital Mead-Hall: TexMoot 2019 Keynote Presentation

In January, Alan and Shawn were honored to be the keynote speakers at Signum University’s second annual Texas Literature & Language Symposium (“TexMoot”) in Waco, Texas! Our talk, recorded live, explored podcasts as modern-day mead-halls providing a virtual place for communities to come together around a work of literature. We shared our experience of seeing a community of Tolkien fans build up around our own podcast, cracked the kind of jokes that can only happen in front of a live...


121 - Comfortably Tom

In the final pages of “Fog on the Barrow-downs”, the hobbits — now armed with nice, shiny daggers — reluctantly take their leave of Tom Bombadil. Before we say goodbye to Tom, we give the greatest enigma in Middle-earth the full Prancing Pony Podcast treatment! We answer listener questions, respond to popular theories, and assemble a council’s worth of comments from our favorite scholars (including an unpublished letter by Tolkien himself) before making our final conclusions about what Tom...


120 - Wish You Weren't Here

As we resume “Fog on the Barrow-downs”, Frodo comes to and finds himself trapped in a barrow with his friends unconscious beside him, arrayed eerily in the buried treasures of long-dead lords. For a moment, Frodo is tempted to flee with the Ring and leave his friends behind, but there is a seed of courage hidden in the heart of every hobbit, and Frodo isn’t just any hobbit. Also: halfling streaking, a listener question about Sauron’s massive blind spot, and we’ll take “Unflattering Names...


119 - The Dark Side of the Tomb

We begin the chilling chapter “Fog on the Barrow-downs” on the hobbits’ last morning in the house of Tom Bombadil and Goldberry. Soon they must be off again and into the haunted hills beyond; but they should be safe if they just keep to the west side of the barrows and get out of the downs before sunset, so let’s just see how that works out for them. Plus, more about wights than you ever wanted to know, another prophetic dream for Mr. Frodo Baggins, and a pair of incredible The Lord of the...


118 - Tolkien Reading Day Special 2019

Happy Tolkien Reading Day! On March 25 every year – the date of the fall of Barad-dûr – Tolkien lovers worldwide celebrate by reading the Professor’s works. A theme is chosen by The Tolkien Society every year, and for 2019 the theme is Tolkien and the Mysterious. Join Alan and Shawn as we read favorite passages from The Lord of the Rings and Unfinished Tales about mysterious people and places in the legendarium. We’ll even investigate one of Middle-earth’s great unsolved mysteries with a...


117 - Questions After Nightfall 6

Alan and Shawn once again welcome several of our listeners to the Prancing Pony Podcast for live, unscripted “Ask Me Anything”–style questions. In this episode, we give our best on-the-spot answers to questions about the power of the Elven Rings, Tolkien’s maps of Middle-earth, Gandalf, Sauron, and even the dreaded Watcher in the Water, with nothing more than our memories and a few hasty ebook word searches to help us along. Plus the answer to a question we’ve never considered before: would...


116 - Does Goldberry Float in Water?

The hobbits experience a rain delay the morning after their first night in the house of Tom Bombadil, and Frodo couldn’t be happier. While Goldberry does her “washing”, Tom regales his guests with stories, but after supper Frodo starts telling his own tale, even the parts about the Black Riders and the Ring. What will happen when the “Eldest” crosses paths with the most dangerous weapon of the Third Age? Well, not that much, actually, and we’ll discuss why. Plus, why did Tolkien use the name...