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The Prancing Pony Podcast

Literature

As they explore the 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. Alan and Shawn engage in plenty of in-depth study of Tolkien's books, but with a healthy dose of self-effacing humor, pop-culture references, and bad puns. These are the two guys you'd want to hang out with at a pub and talk Tolkien with.

As they explore the 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. Alan and Shawn engage in plenty of in-depth study of Tolkien's books, but with a healthy dose of self-effacing humor, pop-culture references, and bad puns. These are the two guys you'd want to hang out with at a pub and talk Tolkien with.

Location:

United States

Description:

As they explore the 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. Alan and Shawn engage in plenty of in-depth study of Tolkien's books, but with a healthy dose of self-effacing humor, pop-culture references, and bad puns. These are the two guys you'd want to hang out with at a pub and talk Tolkien with.

Language:

English


Episodes

199 – Pretty Spry (For a Grey Guy)

2/28/2021
Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli follow the trail of the missing hobbits, gradually drawing closer to the forbidding fringes of Fangorn Forest. They find new signs that give them hope, but the Dwarf can’t forget about the mysterious old man, and the trees don’t seem to be taking too kindly to his axe. Soon the old man appears again, leading to a surprisingly nimble confrontation. We revisit The Silmarillion for a look at Sauron’s phantom-conjuring skills, wonder if the Eagles are Gandalf’s...

Duration:01:30:29

198 – Never Enough Tolkien: An Interview with Ted Nasmith

2/21/2021
We welcome the acclaimed illustrator Ted Nasmith back to The Prancing Pony Podcast for his first full-length interview! We catch up with Ted about life, art, and everything else since we last spoke to him at Tolkien 2019, including the recent publication of the illustrated edition of Unfinished Tales and teasers about the new illustrated edition of The Silmarillion. Ted also shares the encouraging (and entertaining) story of his first big break… and the unfinished Middle-earth tale he’d love...

Duration:01:23:55

197 – Birnam Wood as It Should Have Been

2/14/2021
Waiting for the Ents to make a decision turns out to be an exercise in patience for Merry and Pippin, until Treebeard mercifully excuses them from the proceedings. He leaves them in the company of Quickbeam: a younger, hastier Ent who’s about as hobbitish as they come (admittedly, a low bar). We get to the rocky bottom of the relationship between Ents and Trolls, revisit the marital strife of Aulë and Yavanna, and see the Ents get barking mad about Saruman’s destruction of the forest. Plus,...

Duration:01:41:26

196 – Branch Managers' Meeting

2/7/2021
At Wellinghall, Merry and Pippin learn more about the Ents’ hope for the future (in song form!) and get some sleep — horizontally — before leaving in the morning for Entmoot under the protective bough of Treebeard. Ents soon arrive in a startling variety of shapes, sizes, and likenesses, and begin a meeting to get to the root of the Saruman problem. We call The Council together as we dig deeper into the irreconcilable differences between the Ents and the Entwives, ponder mysterious...

Duration:01:32:53

195 – The Birches and the Beeches

1/31/2021
After hearing Merry and Pippin’s account of their recent adventures, Treebeard starts talking (and doesn’t stop) about wizards, ecopolitics, and “the one that got away”. Unfortunately, spokesplants for Fimbrethil and the Entwives have not responded to requests for comment, and we won’t hold our breath waiting for them to. But at least now Treebeard seems motivated to do something about Saruman, if only he can find enough Ents to form a posse. Plus, a letter to Barliman offers possible...

Duration:01:53:17

194 – Tree’s Company

1/24/2021
Merry and Pippin travel deeper into Fangorn Forest with a guided tour (really more of a picked-up-and-carried tour) provided by Treebeard. Their host may be more wooden than Alan and Shawn, but he’s both informative and entertaining, singing songs and telling stories about the forest and the Ents themselves. Soon they arrive at Wellinghall, where he sets them down and offers them jars of some potent drink that we can only hope he has a license to make and distribute. Hopefully, the...

Duration:01:35:58

193 – Out on a Limb

1/17/2021
Escaping from mortal danger into deadly peril, Merry and Pippin wander into Fangorn Forest. The place seems more strange than scary, but it’s far from welcoming; and an offhand comment by Pippin about almost liking the forest attracts the attention of the local plant life. Is the mysterious Ent all bark and no bite? Or will it tear the hobbits limb from limb, mistaking them for little Orcs? We discuss the importance of real names, offer a sidebar on the late appearance of the Ents into...

Duration:01:44:07

192 - Race, Tolkien, and Middle-earth, Revisited

1/10/2021
Following up on our previous examination of race in Tolkien’s work in Episode 114, today we welcome listeners of different racial and ethnic backgrounds to join us and share their experiences of Tolkien’s works and fandom. By looking beyond the author's own views and intentions, we hope to gain a better understanding of the actual impact of Tolkien’s treatment of race from people who have experienced racism directly. We urge all listeners to tune in for this special, which challenges our...

Duration:01:51:20

191 - A Trick of the Took

12/20/2020
Now ringed in by the Rohirrim, the Orcs wait for reinforcements, all the while continuing their civilized parliamentary deliberations. On the committee agenda: 1. You’re a maggot. 2. That guy’s an ape. 3. Consideration of a motion for a vote of no confidence in Uglúk. Grishnákh seizes an opportunity — and the prisoners — but Pippin thinks quickly and devises a Tookish (and very, very dangerous) ruse to take advantage of the Mordor Orc’s secret plot. Who’s a fool now, Gandalf? All this, plus...

Duration:01:34:25

190 - Follow Uruks, Follow Me

12/13/2020
The Hobbits continue their zero-star walking tour of Rohan, trudging along with the Orcs in an endless tunnel of misery with nary a pub nor a B&B in sight. But the feel of wet grass between his hairy toes gives Pippin an idea, and he breaks away from the beaten path for just long enough to leave a message for any friend who may be following them: a token that may or may not idly fall. We wonder about Orc parents’ baby naming practices, revisit The Fall of Gondolin, and imagine Ulmo talking...

Duration:01:24:22

189 - Supper’s Ready

12/6/2020
Looks like meat’s back on the menu as we pick up the tale of Pippin and Merry and their delightful hosts: an army of Orcs on their way to Isengard. Merry is apparently down for the count, but Pippin takes in their surroundings and gradually begins to piece together an escape plan. We learn way more about Orkish medicine than we ever wanted to, offer a sidebar on the history of the Black Speech, and speculate about whether there are some things even Orcs won’t eat (probably not). Plus, how to...

Duration:01:44:11

188 - Questions After Nightfall 13

11/22/2020
While Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli look for their horses, we welcome listeners to the common-room for our last live Q&A episode of 2020! As always, the questions are unrehearsed, so hearing us muddle through head-scratchers like “Do Orcs have free will?” is as entertaining as expected. We speculate on what Lobelia might have done if the One Ring had fallen into her hands along with Bilbo’s spoons, get into chains and bondage with Beren and Lúthien, and more. Plus, what were the guys hoping to...

Duration:01:26:28

187 - The Old Man and the Coconuts

11/15/2020
Éomer bends the rules “just this once” to let the wanderers go free in Rohan, and even lends them cocon— uh, horses* to ride, on the condition that after they find the bodies— uh, their friends*, they return the rentals to Edoras in good condition and hand the keys back directly to Théoden King. They ride quickly to the Entwash and camp near the edge of Fangorn Forest, where a mysterious visitor appears and makes them wish they’d sprung for the loss damage waiver. (*We apologize for the...

Duration:01:37:04

186 - A Man That Has No Coconut

11/8/2020
Éomer, Third Marshal of the Riddermark, demands proper identification from the Three Hunters, and Aragorn gives it to him by name-dropping a lineage going back three thousand years and unsheathing a sword even older than that. In one of the greatest “okaayyy” moments in Tolkien’s legendarium, Éomer accepts their explanation and proceeds to catch them up on current events in this region where Saruman’s betrayal is more than just a rumor. Also, word-nerdery on another Old English word for a...

Duration:01:31:15

185 - Proud Riders on Proud Coconuts

11/1/2020
The Three Hunters continue their pursuit across the plains, their hearts growing wearier due to the physical effects of Saruman’s opposing will. A new sunrise brings new counsel, and a chance meeting (if chance you call it) with an éored of Rohan’s finest; but the Riders are strong and bold, much like the cocon— er, horses they ride, and they don’t take too kindly to strangers in Elvish cloaks. Join us for a behind-the-scenes look at our character voices, a sidebar on the history of Rohan,...

Duration:01:41:53

184 - The Land of the Coconut-Lords

10/25/2020
Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli pursue the Orcs taking Merry and Pippin through Rohan, where the folk of Eorl raise the greatest cocon— uh, horses. Real-life horses. But the Orcs are moving quickly, not stopping by night or by day; and for the three weary hunters to stop and rest might mean losing their trail. We pause to remember some late-October dates in a new This Week in Tolkien History, and pick out Halloween costumes for the Fellowship. Plus, no African or European swallows here, just an...

Duration:01:39:44

183 - Wind and Brothering

10/18/2020
The three remaining members of the Fellowship of the Ring (as far as they know) prepare Boromir for his last journey down the Anduin, and as the son of Denethor floats away they eulogize their fallen comrade… in song form! Then it’s back to business as they solve the riddle of what happened to the hobbits, and as they weigh their decision of which way to go, Aragorn steps into the leadership role he was born for. Plus, how to write a touching elegy for a friend in just a few minutes, and we...

Duration:01:21:58

182 - And Then There Were Three

10/11/2020
Still searching for Frodo after the chaotic events of the previous chapter, Aragorn is interrupted by the sound of Boromir’s horn. He arrives on the scene just in time to bid farewell to the fallen hero, and for Shawn to atone for all the Boromir-bashing he did last season. Soon Legolas and Gimli arrive, and the trio investigate the scene to determine their next move. We talk about Tolkien’s use of interlacing as a narrative technique (not for the last time), root for Aragorn to get his...

Duration:01:37:25

181 - Two Shall Be the Number of the Towers

10/4/2020
And the number of the towers shall be two. Or three. Or… five? If it’s not clear yet, we’ll clear it up in this introduction to Book III of The Lord of the Rings, and the second volume of the not-really-a-trilogy that happens to be named after some arbitrarily chosen pair of very tall buildings. We also look back at the story so far and learn that Tolkien himself was the first person to leave Tom Bombadil out of an adaptation of his work. Plus, what we did over our summer break: including...

Duration:01:58:07

180 - Questions After Nightfall 12

9/27/2020
Before we return to The Lord of the Rings with Book III, we welcome guest listeners to the common-room for our first Q&A episode of the season! As always, we don’t know the questions ahead of time, but we get a timely look ahead with questions about Ents and the Hobbits who love them. Also: Galadriel unfriended Fëanor, but was Gandalf a new friend or some guy she remembered from high school? We get metaphysical about Sauron, Ringwraiths, and Gollum… and wonder if Aragorn ever considered...

Duration:01:25:04