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The Prancing Pony Podcast
114 minutes | Jul 25, 2021
219 – Crystal Ball
With the Saruman situation handled, Gandalf settles in for a leisurely journey back to Helm’s Deep with Merry dangling behind him. Pippin, however, is obsessing over the shiny, round and apparently indestructible object Wormtongue threw out the window… and when nightfall comes, his Fool-of-a-Tookishness gets the better of him. We begin to investigate the palantír, word-nerd out on its (not yet used) name, and discuss its powers and limitations. Plus, what is the airspeed velocity of a winged Nazgûl… and why would a Dark Lord use the word ‘dainty’?
121 minutes | Jul 18, 2021
218 – Renegade
Unable to persuade Théoden, Saruman now tries to sway Gandalf, not realizing his former underling has gotten a promotion and executive sponsorship for his project since the last time they touched base. As before, Saruman totters between slick sweet-talking and explosive rage until finally Gandalf — amused/not amused — strips him of his staff and place on the White Council. We read Treebeard dialogue for almost the last time; unpack, hang, and whack the Fëanor piñata; and ponder what good Saruman might still have done for the war effort… if only.
107 minutes | Jul 11, 2021
217 – Fooling Yourself (The Angry Old Man)
Fully fed, fully caught up, and fully reeking of pipe-weed, our heroes enter Isengard, where Gandalf demands to speak with Saruman at the foot of Orthanc. The Until-recently-white Wizard refuses to come down or let visitors in, but the White-now-and-check-out-my-new-skills Wizard manages to get his attention, and the parley begins. But although Saruman has lost his armies and devices, he still has some weapons left: his voice, bitter anger, and possibly some kind of Vorlon powers (because it’s been too long since we got in a Babylon 5 reference).
90 minutes | Jul 4, 2021
216 – Questions After Nightfall 15
It’s time for another live Q&A episode, this time with more questions than ever before heard on a single episode of the Prancing Pony Podcast! Join Alan and Shawn as we field questions on Entish names, thralldom in Valinor, the unbearable vagueness of Gandalf, and the powers of the Elven Rings. A conversation about the importance of refuge in Middle-earth stirs our hearts, and a thought-provoking question about Rivendell in the Fourth Age gets us into speculation mode. Plus, another chance to look back on PPP Moot 2021… and much, much more!
85 minutes | Jun 27, 2021
215 – (Flash)Back in Black
The epic flashback continues as Pippin and Merry continue their story with a play-by-play account of the destruction of Isengard, expertly managed by their new partners at Fangorn, Bregalad and Associates. We catch up on Wormtongue’s whereabouts since being forcibly relocated, and see why Treebeard’s not giving up his day job to be a swim instructor for exiled traitors anytime soon. All this, plus a famous lecture, a celebrated biography of the Professor, and the Battle of the Somme in This Week in Tolkien History.
108 minutes | Jun 20, 2021
214 – Dirty Deeds Done Dirt Cheap
The reunited members of the Fellowship of the Ring (minus Gandalf, who’s off hobnobbing with kings and trees) get some valuable bro time amid the flotsam and jetsam of Isengard. Merry and Pippin have a lot to account for — and an angry Dwarf to appease — so they ply their friends with salted pork and pipe-weed while catching them up on the story since Parth Galen… glossing over the dirty deeds done to them by the Uruk-hai. Before this episode goes up in smoke, though, we get into the etymology of Huorn: a word as mysterious as the creatures themselves.
99 minutes | Jun 13, 2021
213 – Let There Be (Lots of Broken) Rock
The company reaches Isengard and discovers that property values have tanked in recent months, and it’s no wonder why when they see how poorly Saruman’s been maintaining his yard. Holes in the ground fume and glow with unnatural light, the place is flooded, and piles of stone and broken masonry hint at some recent battle. But strangest of all to the Rohirrim is what looks like two small people smoking on a rubble-heap. Are they some new monsters? A reason to call child protective services? Maybe we can ask who they are, if Gimli doesn’t strangle them first.
94 minutes | Jun 6, 2021
212 – Highway to Dell
As the company exits the mysterious forest, Legolas looks back and is enchanted by the trees and their eyes — a perfectly ordinary thing for trees to have, obviously. Before Gimli makes a run for it out of pure self-preservation, Legolas is snapped out of it by Gandalf, who offers no real explanation (again) and urges them to press on along the road to Isengard. We speculate on what Middle-earth would be like if there were no Dwarves, dust off our Gollum voices, and prove once again that we’ll grasp at any flimsy excuse to make a Rush reference.
94 minutes | May 30, 2021
211 – For Those About to (Rave About a) Rock, We Salute You
After a long night, the heroes of Helm’s Deep reunite on the grass by a stream near a forest that, uh, wasn’t there yesterday… but we’ll get to that later. Legolas and Gimli check the final score of Uruk Slayfest 3019, showing the Dwarf ahead by a head, but less interested in bragging rights than in the Glittering Caves he found in the Deep. Gandalf has returned, and — oh, right! — that forest that appeared overnight is not his doing, but he won’t say whose it was. Plus, a Tolkien Fun Fact about recovery, escape, and consolation among POWs in the 1970s.
71 minutes | May 23, 2021
210 – Live from PPP Moot 2021
If you missed out on the PPP’s first-ever digital moot, here’s a chance to hear what you missed — or relive it, if you were there — in this episode recorded live during the second day of the moot! Alan and Shawn invited all attendees to join and ask any question, and they did… from fate and free will in Tolkien’s works (again), to underwater SPBMI, to the future of the podcast, and much, much more! There’s even a surprise question from a familiar guest who now holds the new record for most appearances on The Prancing Pony Podcast.
96 minutes | May 16, 2021
209 – Pyromania
An explosion rocks the Deeping Wall, and soon there are more as Saruman’s blasting fires make what little hope the heroes had go up in smoke. But as dawn approaches, Aragorn still believes that victory may come with the new day, and Théoden realizes it’s better to burn out than fade away. We see Gimli’s martial prowess on display, investigate what makes a parley a parley, and hear the horn of Helm Hammerhand sound in the Deep (and keep sounding and sounding…). Plus, Legolas defies the laws of physics in a new mailbag question.
111 minutes | May 9, 2021
208 – White Lightning
The Rohirrim, led by Théoden and Éomer (with lots of help from Aragorn, Legolas, and Gimli), man the Deeping Wall and the Hornburg as Saruman’s assault on Helm’s Deep begins. A quick flash of lightning in the darkness reveals overwhelming odds, but Aragorn and Éomer draw swords together and keep morale high, even while rammers nearly break through the Hornburg gates. Also, Gimli and Legolas begin a contest to see who can take down the most Orcs. Legolas starts out strong, but our money’s on Gimli, who is deadly when he’s bored.
100 minutes | May 2, 2021
207 – Rock of Ages
Théoden and Gandalf lead the host of the Rohirrim towards the fords of the Isen to strengthen the forces holding back Saruman’s army. But when they meet a rider coming back from the front line with news of defeat, Théoden takes Gandalf’s counsel and changes course for Helm’s Deep and the mighty fortress of the Hornburg. We look at Unfinished Tales for an account of the recent battle, learn way too much about military supply chains, and discuss Tolkien’s visits to Cheddar Gorge… which leads to far fewer cheesy jokes than might be expected.
98 minutes | Apr 25, 2021
206 – I Saw Her Standing There
Théoden offers Wormtongue one last chance to redeem himself, but the counsellor is disinclined to acquiesce to his lord’s request. As Gríma’s stain is (literally) washed away, Gandalf and the king catch up on the history of Saruman’s treachery and the damage already done in Rohan before riding out to do something about it, leaving the fearless and high-hearted Éowyn in charge. All this, plus we discuss Rohirric lines of succession, close the book on the color of Shadowfax, and investigate the meaning of pity in a new Philology Faire.
117 minutes | Apr 18, 2021
205 – Here Comes the Sun
Upon entering the Golden Hall, Gandalf is challenged once again; this time by Wormtongue, the king’s counsellor who may not exactly have Rohan’s best interests in mind. Gandalf puts the worm in its place (before Gimli can dissect it for smack-talking Galadriel) and then leads Théoden out into the light, to healing and hope for victory against Isengard, without a single exorcism. We watch and learn as Tolkien takes down criticisms of his archaic style, revisit an Old English greeting, and discuss an alternate draft in which Tolkien shipped Éowyn and Aragorn.
105 minutes | Apr 11, 2021
204 – The Long and Winding Road
Our heroes ride up the long and winding road that leads to Théoden’s door, but first they have to get through two sets of guards. Fortunately, Gandalf’s polyglottal talents get them through the first gate into Edoras, and they’ll be allowed into Meduseld itself just as long as they check their weapons at the door… their ancient, irreplaceable, priceless weapons. Inspired by Tolkien’s skill with Latin and Greek, Shawn takes a stab at speaking Old English; and a sidebar on Helm Hammerhand sends a chill down our spines.
70 minutes | Mar 28, 2021
203 – Questions After Nightfall 14
Before we return to The Lord of the Rings for the further adventures of The White Rider and Friends in Rohan, we spend some time in the common-room with listeners for another quarterly live Q&A episode! Current events with Saruman at Isengard are clearly on the minds of many, as we field questions about Ol’ Many Colors himself and the Ents who’ve unexpectedly shown up on his doorstep. We take another look at the Secret Fire and Tolkien’s theological inspirations for it, opine on some mysterious words to Aragorn from his new in-laws, and more!
135 minutes | Mar 21, 2021
202 – Tolkien Reading Day 2021
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 2021 the theme is Hope and Courage. Join us for our sixth annual celebration of this international event, as Alan and Shawn courageously battle their way through readings on the topic from The Children of Húrin, The Lay of Leithian, and The Lord of the Rings... and find hope in a non-legendarium reading like nothing we’ve done before, brought to life with a little help from our producer, Jordan Rannells.
110 minutes | Mar 14, 2021
201 – A Nice Day for a White Wizard
The newly-minted Gandalf the White advises the Three Hunters to leave the Hobbits in the strong, twiggy hands of Treebeard and go to Edoras. They agree, but Legolas still wants to know how Gandalf is — y’know, not dead — launching the wizard into a brief account of his fight with Durin’s Bane, and your hosts into an epic series of sidebars about Gandalf’s resurrection, mythology, and religion. All this, plus a Tolkien Quote of the Day about sacrifice, and a couple of mailbag stumpers that make Alan question the wisdom of letting Shawn pick the questions.
102 minutes | Mar 7, 2021
200 – A Whiter Shade of Grey
The old man is revealed to be an old friend: Gandalf the (Formerly) Grey, returned beyond hope from death in battle with the Balrog of Moria. Enhanced in power and in insight, Gandalf gets caught up on the news he missed while he was out; and then offers some wisdom to his companions about Sauron, Saruman, and the power hidden in the forest. Danger is all around, not least in Barliman’s Bag where we pull a hardball question about the inevitably of marring in Tolkien’s world… and also in a surprising connection back to C.S. Lewis.
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