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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.




147 - Tales from the Perilous Green Room: An Interview with Brian Sibley

Alan and Shawn are thrilled to welcome back Brian Sibley for his first full-episode interview! A writer and broadcaster, Brian has been responsible for beloved adaptations of Tolkien’s work such as the BBC radio dramatizations of The Lord of the Rings and Tales from the Perilous Realm. He’s also written several books on Peter Jackson’s films, for which he had rare access behind the scenes during production. We talk to Brian about the history behind these projects, hear inside stories about...


146 - Bring It on Home

The Council of Elrond draws to a close, and options are finally debated about what to do with the One Ring. But the easy way is obviously the wrong way, the hard way seems impossible; and frankly, you know the committee is running out of ideas when “give the doomsday weapon to the guy in the yellow boots who sings all the time” is a proposal under serious consideration. But in Tolkien’s world, small hands often move the wheels of the world… and fortunately, there are a lot of small hands...


145 - What Is and What Should Never Be

Frodo finally learns why Gandalf never came as promised: Saruman the (Until Recently) White has turned to the dark side! The betrayal sinks in as the wizard tells the tale of his imprisonment at Orthanc and his rescue by Gwaihir, swiftest of the Great Eagles. With the Council finally caught up, they turn to the real question: what to do with the Ring? (And no, Gwaihir isn’t taking it anywhere.) We celebrate an important Tolkien birthday, go on tour with the Dreadful Nine, and wonder what...


144 - Nobody's Fault but Mine (and Yours, and Isildur's)

Gandalf and Elrond come to terms with their own past mistakes while Aragorn reveals the lengths to which he’s gone to repair the faults of Isildur. As the story continues to unfold, the truth becomes clear to all at the Council of Elrond: Frodo’s ring is the One Ring cut from the hand of Sauron, and Gandalf isn’t afraid to use strong words — in the Black Speech — to prove it. We meet Radagast (in flashback), get word nerdy on a rather condescending name for Hobbits, and look for...


143 - Whole Lotta Lore

The Council of Elrond continues with a brief history of Arnor and Gondor since Isildur’s time, and Boromir begins to learn the meaning of the riddle that brought him to Rivendell. He takes the revelation of Aragorn’s identity surprisingly well; but he still has questions, prompting another tale from Bilbo about the finding of the Ring. We hear back from some listeners we met at Tolkien 2019, revisit a meaningful comment by Elrond from last episode, and learn disturbing truths about the...


142 - Confustication Breakdown (with special guest Corey Olsen)

The Council of Elrond begins, and to help us bring the meeting to order, we welcome Corey Olsen — the Tolkien Professor himself — to the Prancing Pony Podcast! We start with a conversation about the nature of Rivendell itself, then dive into the text to untangle the various accounts at a pace none of us are quite used to. Along the way, we revisit the making of the Rings of Power, the Last Alliance, and Elrond’s less-than-exemplary committee chairing skills. Plus, what really happened when...


141 - Starship Trooper

With his friends all gone, Frodo stays in the Hall of Fire listening to the minstrels of Rivendell. The Elvish singing speaks to him in sweet accustomed ways, and he wanders enchanted for longer than time can remember... returning only when he hears a familiar voice chanting. We give Bilbo’s Song of Eärendil the full Prancing Pony Podcast treatment, explore its origins in an earlier Tolkien poem, and start assembling our best playlist as the starship mariner goes sailing on by. But first,...


140 - I've Seen All Good People

Now taking a straight and stronger course to recovery, Frodo feels it’s time for food, drink, and merrymaking. He has a brief reunion with Sam, then with Merry and Pippin before they’re all moved on to the hall for a feast. Each way he turns his head, Frodo is surrounded by fair and powerful folk; but he has a pleasant (if cautious) dinner conversation with Glóin, after which he’s on his way to the Hall of Fire for a very merry meeting in the corner of the room. Plus Elves are singing!...


139 - Close to the Edge

We return to the text of The Lord of the Rings with the first chapter of Book II! Frodo awakens in Rivendell after the incident down by the river to find Gandalf beside him. Now that it’s all over and done, Frodo is relieved to find that he and his friends are alive and whole, but as he learns more about events since Weathertop, he realizes how close he came to becoming a wraith himself. We get up to a Tolkien Quote of the Day about children, and get down to why the Barrow was “the most...


138 - Questions After Nightfall 8

Alan and Shawn welcome a cozy group of listeners to the common-room for another round of live, unscripted questions about Tolkien, the podcast, and more! We return to the Ford of Bruinen to figure out exactly what happened, and even look back on the early adventures of the Hobbits in Book I of The Lord of the Rings. We court controversy with questions about Balrog wings and whether we really are too hard on Fëanor (spoiler: no). Plus, what happened to the greatest Elvish poets of the First...


137 - Go Back to the Beginning

That’s what Vizzini told us to do, so we have. As we shake off the jet lag and learn to live again without full English breakfasts and a steady supply of fish and chips, we look back at Book I of The Lord of the Rings, revisiting the recurring themes in the story so far. Then we look ahead to Book II, and the new themes and tone that will emerge as Frodo continues on the ever-darkening road to Mordor. We shake the dust off Barliman’s Bag with a few questions from our summer hiatus, finally...


136 - Live from Tolkien 2019

Alan and Shawn reunite in person for a live recording from Tolkien 2019 in Birmingham, England! We interviewed several special guests at the conference, including returning guests (Marquette University archivist Bill Fliss, authors Dimitra Fimi and John Garth) and some first-timers: legendary artist Ted Nasmith, Richard Medrington — the man behind the one-man theatrical production of Leaf By Niggle — and dramatist Brian Sibley of the Lord of the Rings BBC radio play! Plus live questions...


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 see...