July 1–30HomeSeptember 22

September 18–21, S.R. 1418 (T.A. 3018)

The month of August is so quiet that neither the main narrative of The Lord of the Rings nor the Tale of Years provides us with any dated events. Frodo arranges the sale of Bag End, Boromir winds his way slowly north through Eriador, and Gandalf spends the month pacing anxiously on the pinnacle of Orthanc.

It’s only with the arrival of September that events get underway again. The Tale of Years dedicates this entire four-day span to the rescue of Gandalf and his desperate search for a horse that can carry him north:

  1. Gandalf escapes from Orthanc in the early hours. The Black Riders cross the Fords of Isen.
  2. Gandalf comes to Edoras as a beggar, and is refused admittance.
  3. Gandalf gains entrance to Edoras. Théoden commands him to go: ‘Take any horse, only be gone ere tomorrow is old!’
  4. Gandalf meets Shadowfax, but the horse will not allow him to come near. He follows Shadowfax far over the fields.

Although these descriptions are quite spare, they supply several details that we would never have known if we possessed only the brief narrative Gandalf offers at the Council of Elrond.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 18 · 3:00 am

The great eagle Gwaihir reaches Orthanc in the moonlight to deliver news—of wolves, Orcs, and Gollum’s escape—but finds treachery: Gandalf stranded on the pinnacle, a prisoner. He carries the wizard away.

‘I will bear you to Edoras, where the Lord of Rohan sits in his halls.’

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 18 · 5:00 pm

Having learned that the land called ‘Shire’ lies north-west, near the elvish Grey Havens, the nine Nazgûl cross the river Isen—entering Eriador for the first time since the Witch-king’s defeat at the Battle of Fornost 1,043 years ago.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 19 · 10:00 am

Gandalf tries to enter Edoras disguised as a beggar, but isn’t allowed to enter the walled town.

Thanks to one specific date given in the main narrative—‘September 20th’—we do get to add one event from the Shire itself into these four days focused on Gandalf and Rohan.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 20 · 9:45 am

Two covered carts packed full of Frodo’s belongings leave Bag End. They take the East Road towards the Brandywine Bridge and, beyond it, Frodo’s new house in Crickhollow.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 20 · 4:45 pm

Gandalf is finally admitted to Edoras. King Théoden refuses to gather his full strength, lest it spur Saruman to open war. The king’s patience with Gandalf ends: ‘Take any horse, only be gone ere tomorrow is old!’

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 21 · 8:25 am

Gandalf visits the horse-sheds of Rohan and chooses Shadowfax: one of the Mearas, the horses descended from the horse of Eorl, that are only supposed to be ridden by the King of the Mark himself.

Shadowfax, untamed, runs away into the fields.

The Shire-Reckoning · Sep 21 · 7:06 pm

As the sun sets and the evening draws down on the eve of his birthday, Frodo is anxious. Gandalf had promised that ‘At the very latest I shall come back for the farewell party’—which is tomorrow.

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