The Prancing Pony Podcast

By The Prancing Pony Podcast

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Subscribers: 857
Reviews: 7

 Feb 22, 2023
Just brilliant, love listening to this whilst driving around, my work involves a lot of driving and PPP is a perfect listen.

pure genius!
 Sep 18, 2022

 Jan 7, 2022
I wanted to enjoy it. The segments are too long. 7 minutes in and they still haven't started actually discussing The Hobbit on that episode. Also one of them always talks over the other making it difficult to hear. And the ads!

 May 3, 2020
Totally awesome podcast with some of the funniest hosts! They might have a penchant for musty musical references and dusty dry humour but man, this is a must if you are slightly interested in Tolkien. 👍

 Oct 16, 2019


The Prancing Pony Podcast is a weekly show about the Middle-earth legendarium of J.R.R. Tolkien, hosted - for six seasons - by Alan Sisto and Shawn E. Marchese. As the show returns for its seventh season, Alan welcomes an all-star cast of co-hosts to join him as he explores the first part of The Return of the King!

Alan and all his co-hosts are passionate Tolkien enthusiasts, and they invite listeners to enjoy their detailed exploration of Tolkien’s work, with smart but straightforward discussion and a healthy dose of self-effacing humor, pop-culture references, and bad puns. These are the folks you'd want to hang out with at a pub and talk Tolkien with.

Episode Date
284 – Tolkien Reading Day 2023
Pack your bags and renew your passports as you join us for the PPP’s eighth annual celebration of Tolkien Reading Day, observed every March 25 in honor of the destruction of the Ring and the fall of Barad-dûr. This year’s theme, as chosen by the Tolkien Society, is Travel and Adventure! Alan and his new co-host Marcel, the Tolkienist, go through some of their favorite Tolkien passages to highlight the theme, from the Great Elven Road Trip to the Fellowship’s Final Journey. Plus, a correction about Dol Goldur and #ambitiousorc starts trending. Also, there may be singing.
Mar 19, 2023
283 – He Won’t Back Down
The forces of Mordor begin their assault on the city of Minas Tirith, as Alan and Matt begin their assault on your patience. Join us as The Heathen Kings of Old open for us in today’s episode, and we finish The Siege of Gondor! Denethor seeks an end to his despair, Pippin seeks Gandalf’s help, and Grond seeks a door to smash. We are joined one more time by Bret Devereaux, who reminds us that war elephants are “hmmmmm… yikes.” We review The Fall of Númenor, say farewell to the Nerd of the Rings, and bring you a very special treat from Jordan’s ‘A Long-Expected Soundscape’.
Mar 12, 2023
282 – Runnin’ Down a Rout
Imrahil and Gandalf save the day, along with Faramir’s body; who will ride out to save Alan and Matt? Join us as we follow Gandalf’s Magic Flashlight™, as we near the end of The Siege of Gondor! Gandalf is unveiled, Imrahil has words for Denethor, the Witch-king’s forces prepare, and Denethor abdicates his role. Once again, we are joined by our favorite pedant and military historian, Bret Deveraux, who teaches us all we could ever want to know about siege warfare (which is a lot). Finally, we spend far too much time working out what Denethor saw in the palantír, and what Barad-dûr’s HR department is like.
Mar 05, 2023
281 – Don’t Come Around Here No More
Faramir goes off to earn his father’s grudging admiration, while Alan and Matt continue to work to earn yours. Join us, and all the captains, as we continue The Siege of Gondor! Read along as Pippin pesters patiently, Denethor dissuades diligently, and Faramir flies fatefully. Also, we are joined by special guest Dr. Bret Deveraux, a military historian and author of A Collection of Unmitigated Pedantry, who shines Gandalf’s magic flashlight on our lack of knowledge.
Feb 26, 2023
280 – Don’t Do Him Like That
Denethor submits his application for Father of the Year, making Alan and Matt feel great about their parenting skills in the process. Join us as we celebrate the seventh anniversary of The Prancing Pony Podcast, and Matt’s first digression as co-host, as we continue The Siege of Gondor! Faramir speaks of Frodo’s peril, Gandalf freaks out a little bit, and we learn that Denethor wasn’t always this way. Alan interviews the Nerd of the Rings - conveniently, since he’s already here - and we don’t talk about Nazgûl no, no.
Feb 19, 2023
279 – You Got Lucky
Pippin is asked to sing by the Steward of Gondor; Alan and his new co-host, Matt from The Nerd of the Rings are begged not to sing by everyone else. Join us as we commiserate with Pippin over the lack of second breakfast, as we begin The Siege of Gondor! Pippin gets to wear silver and black without having to play for the Las Vegas Raiders, Beregond explains the darkening skies, and we talk about pterodactyls - thrilling 8-year old boys everywhere. The Lord of the Mark returns for a Philology Faire once again, while Matt and Alan agree with a listener that Fëanor is still a jerk.
Feb 12, 2023
278 – The Lion & Unicorn: Another Visit with John Garth
Alan and James welcome John Garth in his return to the Common Room here at The Prancing Pony Podcast! We talk about everything in this one: his landmark work Tolkien and the Great War, his essay in The Great Tales Never End, his talk at the J.R.R. Tolkien: The Art of the Manuscript exhibition, his thoughts on The Fall of Númenor, and more. Bonus bits: A lion and unicorn provide convincing proof, John stops James from snoring, Tolkien falls down the stairs, and the expert misspells a headline.
Feb 05, 2023
277 – I Will Follow
Merry is given his pink slip, but refuses to pack up his desk and leave: a security guard by the name of Dernhelm will escort him out. Join Alan and James as we marshal the riders — and James’ humble singing talents — for the concluding episode on The Muster of Rohan! We speculate about the extent of Éowyn’s secret plans, welcome the Professor for a special reading, and point out another of Tolkien’s wonderful spoilers. Alan talks to James about his classes on The History of Middle-earth, and we ever so slightly bash the French. Again.
Jan 29, 2023
276 – With or Without You, Rohan
The Red Arrow arrives: do we turn right after coming to a complete stop, or wait? Join Alan and James as we continue The Muster of Rohan (ignoring the Mayonnaise of Rohan, as it’s been left out too long). Éowyn brings news of Aragorn, Théoden buries the lede, and Alan likes old drafts. We take a close look at This Week in Tolkien History, and discover that the folk of Harrowdale become extreme introverts when the grim grinning ghosts come out to socialize.
Jan 22, 2023
275 – Who’s Gonna Ride Your War Horses?
Merry’s not big enough to ride one of the Rohirrim’s steeds, while Alan and his co-host, James Tauber, aren’t exactly keen to try. Join us as we ride into Harrowdale with Théoden to find a host of men - and one determined woman - ready to ride off to war as we start the Muster of Rohan! Merry recognizes some words in slow sonorous speech, Théoden dismisses his nephew’s advice, and we notice some old statues on the side of the road. The Lord of the Mark returns for a Philology Faire on those old statues, and James and Alan talk about the other condiments of Rohan.
Jan 15, 2023
274 – Live from PPP Moot!
Join Alan and Shawn and an all-star panel of guests in an episode recorded live at PPP Moot 2022! Matt from Nerd of the Rings, Luke Shelton from The Tolkien Experience Podcast, and Corey Olsen ,the Tolkien Professor, all join our hosts on stage to talk about their favorite moments from the legendarium that reflect perseverance, boldness, and courage in the face of impossible odds and waning strength. Or, as we finally decided to call it, “incredible stubbornness”. ‘What-if’ scenarios, Viking invasions, and a mithranium sighting — all in this very special live episode!
Jan 08, 2023
273 – Questions After Nightfall 21
Join Alan and Don, as we send Don back (for now, at any rate) to TikTok, where they apparently need their Obscure Lord of the Rings Facts Guy. But before Luke leaves Vader in charge, it’s time to welcome some of our listeners to join us in the common-room for our latest Q&A episode, now with less perishing! We answer questions about fading in Valinor, the Doors of Night, and Malbeth’s first prophecy. We discover that one need not boggle about certain things, and decide that - for the most part - the Vanyar don’t have to worry about getting stepped on. Finally, Alan makes a grievous error in agreeing to let Don take him clothes shopping.
Dec 18, 2022
272 – Bad Company
They say bad company corrupts good character; we’ll leave it to you to decide whether the title refers to the Dead Men of Dunharrow, or your hosts, Alan and Don, as we finish our journey through the Paths of the Dead! We talk about Tolkien’s ability to write genuinely terrifying moments, Alan wonders why the Grey Company didn’t bring more torches, and Gimli thinks about raindrops on roses and whiskers on kittens — anything to get him through this dark place. Alan let’s Don try his hand at writing an intro sequence, and, finally, the King of the Dead leaves you with this chilling challenge… to find a way out!
Dec 11, 2022
271 – Feel like Breakin’ Love
Alan has walked this podcast land ere Don was born to grace it — just getting the old jokes out of the way, folks. Join Alan and Don as we listen in on a difficult conversation: Aragorn breaks hard news to Éowyn; Éowyn debates and argues, but eventually breaks down in tears; finally, Éowyn breaks with tradition in her forms of address. Alan chats with Don about TikTok and possibilities for the PPP, and we take a moment to compare Éowyn with a famous Valkyrie. Finally, we answer a fun question about adaptations!
Dec 04, 2022
270 – Run With the Pack
So much alike are Elladan and Elrohir that few could tell them apart; not so with Alan and his co-host, Don Marshall! Join us as Aragorn breaks hard news to Théoden, has a moment of foresight about Éomer, and bids farewell to Merry, who misses Pippin’s unquenchable cheerfulness. The Lord of the Mark returns to bring us a Philology Faire (which might also mean a random Pooh sighting), and we take a close look at Malbeth the Seer. Finally, we learn what a rascal of a rebel dwarf is worth in trade.
Nov 20, 2022
269 – It’s All Part of My Gondorian Fantasy
Here come the jesters, one, two… well, two. Alan is joined by Don Marshall, The Obscure Lord of the Rings Facts Guy from TikTok, as we join Aragorn and his friends in Rohan. An hour long prepared approaches, we meet 30 guys that look a lot like Aragorn, and definitely get the message that the days are short. We offer our intro segment to The Tolkien Professor to talk about a book, while Merry offers his sword and service to Théoden. Finally, Alan yada-yada-yadas the Tale of Aragorn and Arwen.
Nov 13, 2022
268 – Waiting for the Son
Alan and Shaun finish their time in Minas Tirith waiting for Bergil to decide whether to take Pippin’s lunch money. Hard, bold, and wicked, Pippin can’t choose between ‘Prince of the Halflings’ and ‘Devil of a Hobbit’; Minas Tirith orders its troops from a catalog, and we offer up a sidebar on the Thain of the Shire. We take some time to see what’s going on with the rest of the Fellowship, and spend a bit of time on WW2 blackouts. Finally, Shaun and Alan agree on something: 29 isn’t really old.
Nov 06, 2022
267 – This is the End, My Hobbit Friend
Alan and Shaun continue their extended visit to Minas Tirith, spending most of their time with a fellow named Beregond. Pippin asks good questions, the man of Gondor gives good answers, and we give big sidebars on the history of Osgiliath and the origin story of the Corsairs of Umbar. A very special guest (to Alan, at any rate) brings back Questions Before Bedtime, and we debate Aragorn’s ability to disguise himself. Finally, we find out what Pippin and the Black Knight have in common.
Oct 30, 2022
266 – People Are Strange When You’re a Halfling
Shaun Gunner of The Tolkien Society begins his service to the PPP, just as Pippin begins his service to Denethor in what is clearly an unacceptable analogy. Gandalf reminds the Steward what it means to really be a steward, Pippin seeks a little validation for his choice, and we meet a valiant man of Gondor. The Lord of the Mark returns for a tasty, and hilariously inappropriate, Philology Faire, and Pippin enjoys a picnic with a view. Finally, Alan agrees to stop booing the Norman Invasion — eventually.
Oct 23, 2022
265 – Hello, I Loathe You
Alan and Corey tread carefully as they walk with Pippin and Gandalf into the Hall of Kings to meet the Steward. We watch as Denethor plays a rhetorical game with Gandalf, weep as we remember Boromir, and smile as Pippin shocks both old men by offering his sword to the grumpier of the two. More time is spent on the palantíri, and we say farewell to The Tolkien Professor. Finally, we discuss how “or the world end” is either an unnecessary redundancy, or a great addition to wedding vows!
Oct 16, 2022
264 – Riders on the Storm
Alan and Corey continue their journey towards Minas Tirith, riding with Gandalf and Pippin on the wings of the storm. We study the architecture of the White City, do maths, and begin the inevitable comparisons between Denethor and Théoden - even before we meet the Steward of Gondor. The Lord of the Mark makes the first of his guest appearances - and there was much rejoicing, and questionable jokes. Finally, what does the Tower of Ecthelion have in common with the Swamp Castle?
Oct 09, 2022
263 – Come on Gondor, Light That Fire
Alan and Corey introduce Book Five, and with no time to wallow in the mire, journey with Gandalf and Pippin towards Minas Tirith, as the beacons try to set the night on fire. Pippin is scared of the moon, the beacon fires, and the dragons - especially the dragons. It turns out Strong Bad might just be a hobbit. Oh, and Alan manages to leave Corey speechless, so there’s a reason to come back.
Oct 02, 2022
262 – Questions After Nightfall 20
Alan welcomes The Tolkien Professor himself, Corey Olsen, to the Prancing Pony - just in time for us both to join our listeners in the common-room for our latest Q&A episode! We discuss the choices made by Elrond and Elros, whether the Three Hunters would have made good ultramarathoners, how artwork and film impacts our reading imagination, and much more. Oh, and Túrin and Nienor because we can't always be happy.
Sep 25, 2022
261 – Drinking the Cup of Farewell
The time has come for Shawn to drink the cup of parting, but not before we take a moment to celebrate his time in the Common Room! We look back on how this thing got started in the first place, talk about some of the amazing guests that have joined us, honor our community of listeners, and commemorate six years of friendship, hard work, learning, and laughter. Alan shares his exciting plans for this season of the PPP (think “all-star co-hosts”), and Shawn gives an unexpected answer to one last mailbag question. Farewell now, Lord of the Mark! Ride to good fortune, and ride back soon to our welcome!
Sep 18, 2022
260 – Hanging Out with Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan
Real hobbits arrive at the Prancing Pony, as Alan and Shawn welcome Billy Boyd and Dominic Monaghan (better known as Pippin and Merry) for our season finale! We talk about their time working on Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings movies, their new podcast The Friendship Onion, and everything in between. They digress along with us on friendship, favorite podcasts, tinned oysters, cowboy hats, and a lot more. All this plus hilarious stories from their many years as friends, and experienced advice for the cast of Amazon’s The Rings of Power series. Warning: some mature language.
Jul 24, 2022
259 – Scary Monsters (and Super Creeps)
Sam desperately tries to get through the blocked passage while the Orc captains — oblivious that their eaves are being dropped — continue complaining about their bosses (side note: we’re seriously creeped out by the fact that the Nazgûl actually give Orc officers the creeps). But when one of the captains reveals some new information, Sam suddenly realizes that getting to Frodo is more urgent than he thought. All this, plus Orc dialogue delivered with increasingly sore throats, a long sidebar on the moral code of Orcs, and an excerpt from our recent interview on the Rings of Power Wrap-up podcast with dialect coach Leith McPherson.
Jul 17, 2022
258 – We Can Be Heroes, Just for One Day
Letting logic guide him rather than emotion, Sam has made up his mind to leave Frodo’s body where it is and take the Ring to Mount Doom all by himself… except that he hasn’t, and soon the arrival of Orcs in the passage spurs him to go back and protect his fallen master from the defilements of Sauron’s servants or die valiantly in the attempt. We see the Ring find a new bearer, offer word-nerdery on a slightly less vulgar Orc insult, and discuss parallels in this chapter to Húrin’s last stand (and Beorhtnoth’s). Plus, who really put the words in Sam’s mouth to invoke Elbereth?
Jul 10, 2022
257 – There’s a Star, Man
Samwise returns to where he left Frodo in the pass of Cirith Ungol, only to discover his master already defeated and being dragged away by Shelob. Acting on instinct, Sam leaps into action, armed with his guts, the elven-blade, and the Phial of Galadriel — which proves to be a valuable weapon for bringing actual starlight into the darkness of Shelob’s Lair. We see Sam go through his darkest moment yet, discuss how spiders are not like dragons, and power through lots of talk of spider-stench (and spider droppings, because of course we did). [Trigger Warning: this episode includes discussion of suicide.]
Jun 26, 2022
256 – Questions After Nightfall 19
Alan and Shawn welcome listeners once again to join us in the common-room for our latest Q&A episode! Dwarf-fans rejoice as we answer questions about the Book of Mazarbul, and the other kindreds of the Dwarves besides the Longbeards of Durin. We tackle a few what-if questions such as how Faramir would have fared in the Fellowship instead of his brother, and revisit the Witch-king, the giants of The Hobbit, and more. Also, what positions would each of the Fellowship play on, uh, a different kind of fantasy baseball team?
Jun 19, 2022
255 – She Never Begs, She Knows How to Choose Them
The appearance of the biggest cobwebs he’s ever seen gives Sam some hope that he’s at least dealing with something he understands, and fortunately cutting through them is easy enough with the right tools (such as an ancient Elvish sword from Gondolin). But soon Frodo is wild with (false) hope of his own, and rushes headlong into what Sam knows can only be more danger. We dig deeper into Shelob’s history and her mutual understanding with Sauron, learn how much of an arachnophile Gollum really is, and discuss how the One Ring is — and is not — like a palantír.
Jun 12, 2022
254 – She’s Got (Eight) Legs, She Knows How to Use Them
Frodo and Sam follow Gollum into the tunnel, but they’re greeted by a stench and a palpable darkness that are far from welcoming. Soon they are lost in a maze in the dark, unsure how long they’ve been there or how to get out… and something seems to be watching them with more than the usual number of eyes (and following with more than the usual number of legs). All this, plus medieval ideas on the nature of good and evil revisited, and Alan and Shawn each weigh in on the question of which Middle-earth character their co-host most resembles.
Jun 05, 2022
253 – …That Leads to Mordor
The hobbits take a quick rest stop before the last leg of the journey down into Mordor, and in a moment of contemplation, Sam imparts some newfound wisdom about the nature of adventures and the stories that inspire us. But while he recaps the first season of the Prancing Pony Podcast, Gollum slips away unnoticed for some reason that can’t be good. All this, plus we consider Frodo’s pity towards Gollum as a parallel to Bilbo’s, offer word-nerdery on “man” and “human”, and break down Samwise Gamgee’s biggest mistake.
May 29, 2022
252 – The Long and Winding Stair…
Overcome by despair at the sight of the Witch-king’s army, Frodo fears that his quest has already failed. But ever-practical Samwise snaps him out of it, and Frodo continues on with determination despite his lack of hope. Gollum leads them up two sets of stairs that are definitely not up to code, and finally to a passage that… uh, might not be watched. After cooling off from this cardio session with Middle-earth’s least motivating personal trainer, we investigate Elvish pronunciation — and a Biblical allusion found in the Phial of Galadriel — in Barliman’s Bag.
May 22, 2022
251 – Don’t Stop and Don’t Smell the Flowers
When the lights go down near the city of the Ringwraiths, Gollum is anxious to continue east as quickly as possible. Frodo and Sam follow, heedless of the danger — which is all around in this place where even the flowers are twisted and foul, the watchtower inexplicably revolves, and an evil army is about to issue from the gates any minute now. All this, plus weather-nerdery about lightning, nightmare-inducing word-nerdery about charnel houses, and your hosts’ presumptuous ideas for changes to Tolkien’s books and the movies based on them.
May 15, 2022
250 – In the Sunshine of Your Love
A new day begins, but doesn’t quite “dawn”, and Gollum leads the hobbits down to the cross-roads. They clearly aren’t in decent places anymore, with loud noises and orc graffiti keeping them all on edge (not to mention no decent tea house for miles). But a ray of sunshine at the right time and place reminds them that not all hope is lost. We discuss Sam’s actual pipe dream and the Gaffer’s old belief that where there’s hunger, there’s hope… but first, a new installment of our collecting segment Kingly Gifts, with guest Chad High.
May 08, 2022
249 – Down to the Crossroads
Frodo, Sam, and Gollum leave Henneth Annûn and continue on their quest with Faramir’s blessing and two (not three) shiny new hobbit-sized walking sticks. Gollum is totally over that betrayal business at the pool and surely isn’t planning any kind of revenge, which is nice; and there’s nothing at all creepy about the fact that they have to stay off the road because, y’know, invisible things may be watching. Also in this episode: blindfolds, wood-nerdery (not a typo), plus, what special object would we want for our Tolkien collections if money was no object?
May 01, 2022
248 – Much More Than Skin Deep: An Interview with Clifford Broadway
Be hasty to tune in as Alan and Shawn welcome Clifford Broadway to The Prancing Pony Podcast! Clifford (also known as Quickbeam) has been on staff at since 1999, nearly from the beginning. We catch up with him for a conversation about the history of TORn, his work co-writing and co-producing the documentary film Ringers: Lord of the Fans, and the enduring legacy of Peter Jackson’s adaptations. Plus, a look ahead to Amazon Prime’s The Rings of Power series and the changing face of Tolkien fandom.
Apr 24, 2022
247 – Everybody Out of the Pool
Frodo convinces Gollum to leave the Forbidden Pool, not without some feelings of regret at his betrayal of the wretched creature. After a brief interrogation, Faramir is satisfied that Gollum knows nothing and won’t come back to this secret place, and hands him into Frodo’s keeping along with a decree that Frodo himself may walk free in Gondor for a year and a day. But the news of where the party is going next is not good, for the name “Cirith Ungol” is one of dread among Gondor’s loremasters. For the life of us, we can’t figure out why Faramir doesn’t explain this more clearly.
Apr 10, 2022
246 – Return of the Giant Squirrel
Frodo is awakened by Faramir in the middle of the night to be treated to a sight he did not expect: a familiar-looking creature fishing in the pool below the waterfall. After Faramir pokes more gentle fun at Anborn’s inability to distinguish an emaciated hobbit from a squirrel or kingfisher, Frodo asks for mercy for the creature, whom he reveals to be his guide on the way to Mordor. We also speculate on the question “What if Faramir never met Frodo” and share highlights from TexMoot 2022, Alan and Shawn’s first in-person moot appearance in over two years.
Apr 03, 2022
245 – Questions After Nightfall 18
Alan and Shawn once again welcome listeners to the common room for our latest Q&A episode! This time we answer questions about themes in Tolkien’s legendarium, talk about favorite niches in Tolkien fandom, and even discuss what keeps characters going when hope fails. Also, why did it take so long for the king to return to Gondor? Why do some characters get better results out of the palantíri than others? And why are the Elves of the First Age always getting lost? All this, plus an exciting what-if about Faramir going to Rivendell instead of his brother.
Mar 27, 2022
244 – Tolkien Reading Day 2022
Bring a friend and come along with us for our seventh annual celebration of Tolkien Reading Day, observed every March 25 in honor of the fall of Barad-dûr. This year’s theme chosen by the Tolkien Society is Love and Friendship. We’ve selected some of our favorite passages from the legendarium to showcase the theme, including friendship that spans generations, romantic love that blooms in wartime, the loyalty of lifelong companionship, and the unlikely love between would-be enemies. Plus, a reading from outside the legendarium reminds us that it’s never too late to reach out to another in friendship.
Mar 20, 2022
243 – Just a Little Bit of Peril
Faramir continues wowing the hobbits with his knowledge of Gondorian history, prompting Sam to one-up him with a recitation of his new spoken word piece “Fifty Things I Love About Galadriel”. But the talk of Lórien opens the door to a conversation about the lesser qualities of Faramir’s brother, and Sam (disarmed by the freely flowing wine) lets slip what really happened between Boromir and Frodo at Parth Galen. All this, plus Faramir reveals he’s already got a thing for the Rohirrim… and we speculate on whether Gollum robbed graves as well as cradles.
Mar 13, 2022
242 – And the People Did Feast
It’s supper time at Henneth Annûn, and Faramir‘s men set out the evening meal. Soon the plates and the goblets are full (then empty, then full again) and Frodo and Faramir are chatting away about ancient history and current events, minus one or two topics that are best avoided at the dinner table. We observe the only real religious ceremony in The Lord of the Rings — and sidebar on why Tolkien left it that way — and Anborn’s poor eyesight (or judgment) raises serious questions about whether he should be allowed to carry a ranged weapon.
Mar 06, 2022
241 – There Are Some Who Call Me… Tharkûn
Frodo learns the identity of the wandering wizard Faramir calls the Grey Pilgrim, and it’s exactly who he thinks (which is to say it’s not John Cleese in horned headgear). But that just means there’s more bad news to share, this time the news of Gandalf’s fall in Moria. As Faramir learns more, he gets closer to the dark secret carried by the halfling… but will Frodo be able to trust him with the full truth, or is the memory of Boromir’s betrayal still too near? All this, plus more blindfolds for Frodo and Sam, and an interview with composer and guitarist Dave Brons.
Feb 27, 2022
240 – Bereft of Life, He Rests in Peace
Too soon? Probably so, because Frodo’s just learned that Boromir is dead — oh, and the guy interrogating him is the brother of the deceased. He questions Faramir’s vision of the funeral boat, but Faramir has no doubt of what he’s seen… fortunately, over the course of their conversation, he manages to dispel all doubts about Frodo’s honesty as well. We revisit the Perilous Realm, learn which of Denethor’s sons actually paid attention in school, and cover the history of the Stewards of Gondor. Also, some killer word-nerdery on the word bane.
Feb 20, 2022
239 – Nobody Expects the Mannish Inquisition
Sam awakens from his nap (honestly, the guy can sleep anywhere) to find Frodo standing before the Rangers of Ithilien, as if on trial. Faramir presses the witness for information about his quest, but the conversation keeps coming back to Boromir as Sam listens in steadily rising anger at the implications being made towards his master. We see what happens when a hobbit gardener gets his fill of “sauce”, discuss Faramir’s quality (not for the last time), and learn just how special the wild Kine of Araw really are… but are their horns actually that loud?
Feb 13, 2022
238 – Gondor Calling
With Gollum missing in action, Frodo and Sam get ready to flee from whoever is making the mysterious bird-calls. Soon they’re trapped by tall men with tall spears and tall bows, and explaining themselves is going to be a tall order. But before the hobbits can give the Rangers of Ithilien a full account of who they are, what they’re doing, and whether they know anything about the skinny, toothless guy in the area fishing without a license, a skirmish begins with a passing regiment of Haradrim. All this, plus Sam reflects poignantly over the body of a fallen foe.
Feb 06, 2022
237 – Should I Stew or Should I Go Now
While Frodo rests, Gollum is away hunting for something to eat besides lembas. He returns with two rabbits, which Sam is happy to make a meal out of — but two cooks in this kitchen is too many, and Gollum objects to Sam’s plan to stew the rabbits instead of eating them raw... not to mention build a fire to do so, and make Gollum do all the grocery shopping. We discuss Sam’s love for Frodo (not for the last time), learn the fascinating history of the word coney, and recount the unfortunate tale of Lalia Took. But first, author Simonetta Carr joins us to talk about her new book, J.R.R. Tolkien for Kids.
Jan 30, 2022
236 – Go Straight to Smells, Boys
After the sun sets on the Black Gate, Frodo, Sam, and Gollum set out and take the road south towards Minas Morgul. They soon find themselves in the “garden of Gondor”: Ithilien, a land of fragrant herbs and other exotic flora that even Sam does not have names for in the horticultural word-hoard of his mind. We let the sensory imagery wash over us as Tolkien mentions one new plant after another, many of which never appear anywhere else in the legendarium. But Gollum thinks something stinks, and it’s not just the pits of Orc filth to be found along the road.
Jan 23, 2022
235 – All Along the Watchtower
There must be some kind of way out of here… and in fact, it’s right down the road to the south, to the side door into Mordor near Minas Ithil (which Gollum doesn’t seem to realize has been renamed under the new management). But it is guarded, of course — and not just by Orcs. We investigate an apparent discrepancy in Gollum’s recollection of where the Silent Watchers actually are, get a description of Sauron’s very physical hand, and feel Gandalf’s mind as it seeks for Frodo. Also, Sam’s pachyderm poem makes Frodo cheer and Gollum fear.
Jan 16, 2022
234 – Knockin’ on Sauron’s Door
Move over, Saruman! There’s a new contender in the running for Worst Curb Appeal in Middle-earth, and he’s got noise coming out of the place at all hours to boot. But after taking in the awesome unpleasantness of Sauron’s front porch and the utter certainty of capture and death, Frodo realizes with grim determination that he has to continue with his quest, and that this is the only way in… unless Gollum has something he’d like to tell him? Explore more word-nerdery on Mordor place names than you thought possible, and does Frodo finally go too far with a threat?
Jan 09, 2022
233 – Questions After Nightfall 17
Just in time for the holidays, it’s the gift that keeps on giving: a new Q&A episode! We answer timely questions about Frodo, Sam, and Gollum as they make their way to Mordor, and offer up our brutally honest opinions about whether every member of the Fellowship actually did something important (we’re looking at you, Legolas). Plus many more, including questions about the history and future of the PPP, and a question we can’t believe it’s taken so long for someone to ask: why does Shawn like Eärendil so much?
Dec 19, 2021
232 – Don't Stand So Close to Me
The wraith on wings is gone, and our heroes appear not to have been noticed. But as the marshes come to an end and the walls of Mordor loom closer, Sméagol is at odds with himself — literally — on what to do next. Sam watches quietly as the two personalities within Sméagol-Gollum’s mind argue with each other, and intervenes just in time to ensure Frodo’s safety… but it’s likely he won’t be fully closing his eyes around Gollum anytime soon. All this, plus Alan and Shawn weigh in on their favorite background noises of Middle-earth in Barliman’s Bag.
Dec 12, 2021
231 – Spirits in the Material World
Frodo and Sam follow their travel guide Gollum through the Dead Marshes — it’s not the tour package we would have chosen, but who are we to judge? — and are far more shaken up than Gollum is by the fact that the marshes actually have, y’know, dead in them. But never mind the terrifying things below, because there’s a new terrifying thing above making its appearance, and that one is going to get Gollum pretty shaken up indeed. Also, just in time for the holidays, a new installment of Kingly Gifts, with Tolkien Collector’s Guide moderator Andrew Ferguson.
Dec 05, 2021
230 – Choking on a Crust of Bread
Sméagol proves to be willing and able to show Frodo and Sam the way to Mordor, now that his promise on the Precious keeps him from running away (though Sting is still at hand to police him if necessary). But Gollum proves he’ll always be king of pain when he totally overreacts to the elf-smell coming off the lembas his companions are eating. Once his diva moment passes, though, they’re back on the road… but there’s a much worse smell than Elvish cooking ahead. Plus, a look into the Gaffer’s paternal word-hoard has us wondering if Sam is really okay, deep down.
Nov 21, 2021
229 – Always Reaching: An Interview with John Howe
Alan and Shawn welcome John Howe to the Prancing Pony Podcast! Over the past several decades John has established himself as one of the most enduringly popular Middle-earth artists, and his work has appeared in numerous books and calendars (including the Tolkien Calendar 2021), and earned him a role as a conceptual artist for Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings movies. We talk to him about artistic inspiration, capturing reality through fantasy, and his new not-a-how-to book, John Howe’s Ultimate Fantasy Art Academy.
Nov 14, 2021
228 – Where Sméagols Swear
Gollum is disinclined to acquiesce to Frodo’s request to lead them to Mordor, and he tries to escape when he thinks the hobbits aren’t looking. Sam has thirty ells’ worth of good reasons for Gollum to stay put, but the Elvish rope burns his skin (as of publication, Lothlórien Ropeworks has not issued a recall, and neither Haldir nor “One of Those Folk” could be reached for comment). Finally, Sméagol comes up with a promise that Frodo can trust… for now. All this, plus a closer look at swearing (not that kind) and a Middle-earth/Marvel mashup in the mailbag.
Nov 07, 2021
227 – Where Sméagols Dare
Three episodes into the chapter, we finally meet Sméagol… and the other fellow sharing his brain. Sam jumps the creeping, crawling creature at the bottom of the cliff, which goes about as well for Master Gamgee as one might expect. Fortunately, Frodo’s got his back, and the sight of Sting convinces Gollum that if he loves some precious, he should set Sam free. We take a closer look at pity and mercy for the most wretched creature in Middle-earth, wonder about the truth of the worst stories about him, and dive into word-nerdery on his original name.
Oct 31, 2021
226 – Places High
The shrieking cry of what might sound like a Ringwraith if they weren’t destroyed forever at the Ford of Bruinen (They were, right? Right!?) makes Frodo lose his grip and his sight while climbing down a cliff. He manages to land on his feet on a ledge not far below, but he can’t get back up or down without a rope, which Sam just so happens to have, and knows how to use. We ponder (and worry slightly about) Alan’s fondness for ropes, Shawn’s fondness for booze, and Sam’s therapy bills thanks to the Gaffer’s old-fashioned parenting methods.
Oct 24, 2021
225 – Strangers in a Strange Land
We finally begin our readthrough of Book IV of The Lord of the Rings with “The Taming of Sméagol”! All alone after fleeing Parth Galen, Frodo and Sam are lost among the barren slopes of the Emyn Muil, seeking a way down to the stinking bog below (zero stars for this hiking tour). But how alone are they, really? Are the two eyes following them attached to the head they think, and will Sam be able to get a tight enough grip on the neck below it to, uh, “handle the situation”? All this, plus a new segment welcoming our youngest listeners: Questions Before Bedtime.
Oct 17, 2021
224 – Whose Story Line Is It Anyway?
One does not simply walk into Mordor without a recap, so before we start our readthrough of Book IV of The Lord of the Rings, we’re reviewing previous chapters to reacquaint ourselves with a couple of characters we haven’t seen for a while (no one special; just Frodo and Sam, the guys whose mission really matters here). After a look back at the story so far, we look ahead to the themes we’ll explore in the coming season. But first, dragons rejoice! We welcome Jeremy Edmonds of the website Tolkien Collector’s Guide to the common room for a little Tolkien Collecting 101.
Oct 10, 2021
223 – Questions After Nightfall 16
It’s our first live Q&A episode of the season, which means Alan and Shawn have got our speculating caps on for another round of questions from our guests! We field questions on the married life of the Valar (but not in the way you’re thinking), the size of Hobbit feet, and an almost forgotten fight between Galadriel and Dol Guldur. Plus, opinions on The Nature of Middle-earth, a booth review of the cutting of the Ring from Sauron’s finger… and wings, schmings! We want to know: do Balrogs have the power of speech?
Oct 03, 2021
222 – Double Nelson: The 222nd Episode Extravaganza
For the second time in history, Alan and Shawn throw a party of special magnificence to celebrate a milestone: 222 episodes of the PPP! Once again, we look back at some of our best moments from the past eleventy-one episodes, as chosen by our listeners. From foolish digressions to inappropriate pop culture references, smart observations to great readings, relive them all on this trip down memory lane with a few surprises along the way (and some bits you’ll see coming a mile away). Plus, what did Tolkien really think of cricket?
Sep 26, 2021
221 – Dancing Bears: An Interview with Carl F. Hostetter
We start our sixth season in style by welcoming Carl F. Hostetter to the podcast! In addition to his role as chief editor of Vinyar Tengwar, Carl has authored articles on Tolkien’s languages for decades. We catch up with him about his lifetime of scholarship and his highly anticipated new edition of unpublished manuscripts by Tolkien himself: The Nature of Middle-earth. Learn how the new volume came to publication as well as a sneak peek of what’s inside from Elvish biology, to the metaphysical nature of Arda, to — yes, you read correctly — dancing bears.
Sep 19, 2021
220 – The Worst of Times
While Gandalf and Aragorn ponder the evening’s events and finally identify the object of Pippin’s affections as the palantír of Orthanc, a Nazgûl flies overhead — which means it’s time for Gandalf and the sticky-fingered Took to exit, stage east. And as Shadowfax carries them over the plains at breakneck speed (not that any necks will be broken, we hope) we bring Book III of The Lord of the Rings to a close. But before we wrap the fifth season, a mailbag question about the podcast and listener expectations gets Alan and Shawn into introspective mode.
Aug 01, 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’?
Jul 25, 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.
Jul 18, 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).
Jul 11, 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!
Jul 04, 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.
Jun 27, 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.
Jun 20, 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.
Jun 13, 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.
Jun 06, 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.
May 30, 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.
May 23, 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.
May 16, 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.
May 09, 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.
May 02, 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.
Apr 25, 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.
Apr 18, 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.
Apr 11, 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!
Mar 28, 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.
Mar 21, 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.
Mar 14, 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.
Mar 07, 2021
199 – Pretty Spry (For a Grey Guy)
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 personal charter bus, and ask the improbable question: do Hobbits have wings?
Feb 28, 2021
198 – Never Enough Tolkien: An Interview with Ted Nasmith
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 to know more about. Plus, an unexpected bit of word-nerdery that connects Tolkien with classic cars.
Feb 21, 2021
197 – Birnam Wood as It Should Have Been
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, Ent-versions of classic rock songs you never knew you wanted.
Feb 14, 2021
196 – Branch Managers' Meeting
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 evergreens, and engage in idle speculation (again) about Mrs. G. Bombadil.
Feb 07, 2021
195 – The Birches and the Beeches
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 alternatives to the *cough* old-fashioned way of making baby Ents.
Jan 31, 2021
194 – Tree’s Company
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 ent-draught won’t have any long-term effects on the young hobbits.
Jan 24, 2021
193 – Out on a Limb
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 Tolkien’s legendarium, and Pippin branches out into writing his own lyrics.
Jan 17, 2021
192 - Race, Tolkien, and Middle-earth, Revisited
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 assumptions while keeping at heart the love of Middle-earth that unites us all.

Alan and Shawn wish to sincerely thank our listeners who came forward to let their voices be heard for this episode. Your stories have inspired us and opened our eyes. 'Eglerio! A laita te!'
Jan 10, 2021
191 - A Trick of the Took
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 a Tolkien Christmas surprise, in our last episode of 2020!
Dec 20, 2020
190 - Follow Uruks, Follow Me
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 like a Cockney street tough in a Victorian melodrama.
Dec 13, 2020
189 - Supper’s Ready
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 make a holiday Orcmanbit.
Dec 06, 2020
188 - Questions After Nightfall 13
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 do if they actually caught up to the Uruk-hai?
Nov 22, 2020
187 - The Old Man and the Coconuts
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 fault in the blurbs. Those responsible have been sacked.)
Nov 15, 2020
186 - A Man That Has No Coconut
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 horse… hint: it’s not coconætt.
Nov 08, 2020
185 - Proud Riders on Proud Coconuts
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, and a closer examination of just what Legolas’ elf-eyes see.
Nov 01, 2020
184 - The Land of the Coconut-Lords
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 eagle… and why is Aragorn lying down on the job?
Oct 25, 2020
183 - Wind and Brothering
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 beat Tolkien to the punch with a little interlacing of our own.
Oct 18, 2020
182 - And Then There Were Three
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 groove back, and delve into an early Prancing Pony Pondering for thoughts on repentance and redemption.
Oct 11, 2020
181 - Two Shall Be the Number of the Towers
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 favorite moments from this year’s online Oxonmoot and Mythmoot.
Oct 04, 2020
180 - Questions After Nightfall 12
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 settling for a nice mortal girl instead.
Sep 27, 2020
179 - A Pandemic of Moots
In response to the COVID-19 pandemic, organizations like the Tolkien Society and Signum University have held their annual gatherings (Oxonmoot and Mythmoot) online in 2020. Alan and Shawn begin the new season by interviewing some of the people who made those moots possible — including Tolkien Society chair Shaun Gunner, Signum University President Corey Olsen, and more — to learn about the challenges and advantages of bringing these events into the digital space, glimpse the changing face of Tolkien fandom, and remember the importance of fellowship in difficult times.
Sep 20, 2020
178 - Hard Choices and Strange Voices: An Interview with Verlyn Flieger
Alan and Shawn welcome Verlyn Flieger back to The Prancing Pony Podcast to finish out our fourth season! We catch up with her on Beowulf, free will, and the mistakes of Túrin (because who can resist?). We also ask her thoughts on some of our favorite moments from Book II of The Lord of the Rings, like Lothlórien, Galadriel, and the “tra-la-la-lally”–free version of Rivendell. Finally, we discuss — and are treated to a sneak preview reading from — her new book Arthurian Voices, a series of monologues from the characters of Camelot.
Aug 09, 2020
177 - Exit... Stage Left
While Frodo and Boromir are away “talking”, the Company (still not officially called “the Fellowship", but that won’t stop us) attempt to reach a decision about where to go — or rather, who’s to go where. Each member of the party speaks his piece, and Samwise explains to them all what’s on Frodo’s mind… but when Boromir returns, Aragorn realizes that it may be too late to influence events at all. Join us as we finally close the book on The Fellowship of the Ring with word-nerdery, hope, despair, and a little bit of Madness. Plus, is The Lord of the Rings too long?
Aug 02, 2020
176 - Grace Under Pressure
The Fellowship stop at Parth Galen to rest and make the decision they’ve been putting off since Lórien: to go west to Minas Tirith, or east to Mordor. Frodo asks for an hour alone to make his decision, but Boromir (not taking the hint, or not wanting to) follows him, and manages to persuade him that he needs to get as far away from Boromir as possible. All this, plus we push the limits (again) on how many music references we can squeeze into a single podcast, and we background check Sauron’s resume to confirm his Necromancer credentials.
Jul 26, 2020
175 - Time Stand Still
Gimli gives mad props to Legolas for shooting down the — whatever that thing was — while Frodo (who knows exactly what that thing was) deals with some stuff. Sam’s perplexed at having lost count of days in Lórien, leading to a debate about the nature of time that would make Doc Brown proud, while Boromir is getting creepier by the day. All this, plus a look ahead to The Two Towers with a news report from the Fords of Isen, and a look back into the history of Gondor as the Fellowship pass by everyone’s favorite riverside rocks.
Jul 19, 2020
174 - Drifting by the Limlight (The Universally Creepy Dream)
Floating down the Anduin, the Fellowship put off their next move for a few days after leaving Lórien. Sam’s not sure if he’s most scared of the trees, the lack of trees, or the curiously Gollum-shaped log that’s following them down the river (which Aragorn has known about, like, forever). Before anyone can say “failure to communicate”, the Company are attacked by Orcs… and something worse. We talk Entwives, vehemently defend Tolkien’s use of the word “eyot”, and watch what happens when a wood-elf trades his slender bow for a great one.
Jul 12, 2020
173 - Questions After Nightfall 11
Join us once again as we welcome guest listeners to the common-room for our eleventh unscripted Q&A episode! Looks like Elves are back on the menu (that came out way weirder than we meant it to) as we answer live questions about Galadriel, the fading of the Eldar, and whether Elrond has Thranduil on his speed dial. Also, Alan and Shawn read favorite passages from The Lord of the Rings to shine a light of hope through the darkness, and go deep into the dictionary and Tolkien’s works to discover the difference between and “oath” and a “vow”.
Jun 28, 2020
172 - Bye, Company (Till the Day You Die)
Galadriel says farewell with a few extra-special gifts for the extra-special members of the Fellowship while the others sit back and grumble about their belts and stuff. Gimli — unfazed by Celeborn’s presence — sweet-talks the Lady into giving him something incredibly personal, and Frodo and Sam receive gifts that seem nice, but aren’t something they’ll be using every day. We remember our painful teenage years with some weepy ‘80s love songs, whack the Fëanor piñata again (because why not), and interview James Tauber of the Digital Tolkien Project.
Jun 21, 2020
171 - Can't Get Enough of Your Leaves
Now outfitted with boats, travel gear, and road snacks, the Fellowship leave Lothlórien. They make it just a little way down the river before they’re attacked by a gargantuan swan (which is just a big boat! Whew. And obviously we all totally knew that... who’s freaked out? We’re not freaked out) and invited to finally have a meal with the Lord and Lady of the Galadhrim. After an epic picnic on the grass, Celeborn — typical dad — gives directions, and Galadriel gives the Company “personalized” gifts that prove exactly who her favorites are.
Jun 14, 2020
170 - Feel Like Bakin' Loaves
Galadriel and Celeborn test the Fellowship once again by kindly inviting them to leave Lothlórien and not let the light plaited screen hit them on the way out. The Company are all ready to move on, but not sure where to go — fortunately, a few boats delay the need to make a decision for at least another week. Pippin gets confused looks for saying the M-word around Elves; Sam might have warned him if he wasn’t so busy geeking out on ropes. And your hosts get word-nerdy on lembas and the ladies who make it (warning: this podcast may contain gluten).
Jun 07, 2020
169 – The Grand Illusion
Galadriel welcomes Frodo and Sam to come on in and see what’s happening with her Mirror. Sam receives a vision of some devilry at work in the Shire; but the Mirror is dangerous as a guide of deeds, and Sam is forced to choose between going on and going home. Frodo catches a glimpse of someone who fortunately can’t see him just yet, and Galadriel faces a temptation of epic proportions. Eärendil shows up to shine a little light on the situation, and we speculate about everything from ring resizing to Irish linguistics.
May 31, 2020
168 - Too Much Time on Their Hands
The Fellowship pass “some days” in Lórien as guests of Galadriel and Celeborn (though not the kind of guests who actually get to see or speak to their hosts), and get plenty of recovery, escape, and consolation from their travels and their grief. With nothing to do but eat, drink, rest, and walk, they are content — but life in a time bubble can’t last forever, and even Sam knows they’ll have to be leaving soon. Frodo remembers Gandalf in song, Pippin gets awfully protective about his blankets, and your hosts graciously accept corrections offered by actual experts in their fields.
May 24, 2020
167 - You're My Lady
The Fellowship comes to Caras Galadhon — the city of Lothlórien — where lights twinkle like stars in trees as tall as skyscrapers. After climbing to a high a and enormous flet they are greeted by Middle-earth’s #1 power couple: Lord Celeborn and Lady Galadriel. Celeborn’s welcome is warm at first, but cools when he learns the Company awoke something very warm (and wingless) in Moria. But when the Lady comes to their defense, even Gimli starts to feel all gooey inside. All this, and a sidebar illustrates the dangers of research in the murky waters of Tolkien’s unfinished material.
May 17, 2020
166 – Inspiration in Unlikely (and Likely) Places: An Interview with John Garth
Alan and Shawn are pleased to welcome John Garth back to the podcast to talk about his upcoming book, The Worlds of J.R.R. Tolkien. It gives us an unprecedented look at the places that inspired Tolkien, from locations close to home in England to cultural traditions around the world. Listen in as Garth explains the origins of the book and his approach to the topic, shares surprising connections between the legendarium and the real world, and even debunks a few myths. We close with a look back at Christopher Tolkien and legacy owed to him by fans of his father.
May 10, 2020
165 - Just a Little Bit of Peril
The Fellowship are led through Lothlórien blindfolded, and yes, Legolas is still complaining. Deprived of his sight, Frodo’s heightened senses take in the sounds, the smells, and the feel of the world around him; and we bask in the beauty of Tolkien’s prose all the way to Cerin Amroth — the heart of elvendom on earth — where the blindfolds are finally removed. We ease up on our criticism of Haldir (once he finally does the right thing), contemplate Galadriel’s punk phase, and offer up word-nerdery on the Elvish name of Sam’s (and Alan’s) favorite flower.
May 03, 2020
164 - Nobody Expected the Elvish Insinuation
Haldir of Lórien greets the Fellowship (the less beardy fellows, at least) as friends and invites them to spend the night in his magic treehouse. Poor Gimli is deemed a spy just for being a Dwarf in an Elvish forest, but nobody tells him. And while the others sleep, Frodo awakens in the middle of the night to the sound of Orcs… and something else. We expose the casual racism of the Galadhrim, discuss surprising connections to a recently unearthed Tolkien Christmas poem, and go back to the Bovril well (trying hard not to fall in) for more jokes.
Apr 26, 2020
163 - Strange Women Singing in Streams
No basis for a system of government, maybe, but it’s a perfectly good reason for an Elf to wax poetic about the good old days (or the bad ones… but it’s not the Dwarves’ fault). After Legolas tells the story of Nimrodel and Amroth, the Fellowship continue through the Golden Wood until they are halted by mysterious voices from above. We get word-nerdy on the language of the Silvan Elves, contemplate Wizard staffs (staves?), and run off after Thorin’s dad in This Week in Tolkien History. Plus, Amazon series predictions that will be hilarious in a few years.
Apr 19, 2020
162 - 'Tis but a Scratch
The Fellowship mourns Gandalf quickly before moving on to put as much distance as possible between themselves and Moria. Gimli makes a quick stop at a legendary Dwarvish tourist attraction, but Aragorn leaves the car running, hoping to make it to Lothlórien before dark (he’s got rewards points, and all the rooms are Orc-free). Legolas suddenly remembers that, oh yeah, Frodo almost died… so Aragorn pulls over to tend to the wounded, and to deliver an alarming joke about Hobbit-poaching which must draw at least four slightly terrified stares.
Apr 05, 2020
161 - Questions After Nightfall 10
Pull up a seat near the log-fire as we welcome a few guest listeners to our tenth quarterly unscripted Q&A episode! It’s a small gathering in the common-room tonight, and we take our time answering some deep and nuanced questions about Tolkien’s legendarium. Let’s get metaphysical as we speculate about the Ainur, the limits of their power, and their lasting impression on the physical world. We geek out on Old English (no surprise there) and eucatastrophe (ditto), and more... including a brave attempt to answer a one-word question.  
Mar 29, 2020
160 - Tolkien Reading Day Special 2020
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 2020 the theme is: Nature v. Industry. Join Alan and Shawn for more reading and less talking than usual as we read some of the best-known passages on the topic, and hopefully a few curve balls too. All that, plus a Barliman’s Bag question that may not be appropriate for young Entings (par-Ental discretion advised).
Mar 22, 2020
159 - A Farewell to Wings
On a very special episode of the Prancing Pony Podcast, we come to the most divisive question in Tolkien fandom: are Balrogs left-handed? No, wait, it’s the other one about Balrog physiology, and we finally, definitively* answer it here. The answer we land on may surprise you... but only if you’ve never listened to us before. But first, there’s a chapter to finish! Join us for a free-for-all of fear, foes, and fellowship for Frodo and his friends, before a fiery face-off with a (flightless) First Age fiend and the fatal fall of a fan favorite, and his final “Fly, you fools!” * Not definitively.
Mar 15, 2020
158 - Troll the Bones
Gandalf discovers a damaged book documenting the Dwarves’ doomed attempt to retake Moria. They read with growing horror about the fates of Balin, Ori, and others; but at least they now know where they are and how to get out. Before they can leave, though, a killer drum solo begins in the depths far below, and soon they are attacked by Orcs, bigger Orcs, and even (say it with us) a cave-troll. Also: bad-luck names for library buildings, Tolkien’s commitment to realistic illustrations, and adventuring undergarments that offer more than just comfort.
Mar 08, 2020
157 - Don't Stop Believin'
Following an insensitive remark about the “darksome” halls of Khazad-dûm by Samwise at bedtime, Gimli delivers an impassioned defense of his people’s lifestyle choices — in verse — and Gandalf gives a history lesson about Moria and mithril. Safe in his (really valuable) mail-shirt, Frodo takes the first watch… and starts to believe he may not be the only one doing the watching. We revisit the ill will of Caradhras, spoil Gimli’s family reunion plans, and terrify our vegetarian listeners (and Alan) with way too much talk of meat extract.
Mar 01, 2020
156 - Any Way You Want It (Just Not the Middle Way)
Frodo feels a sense of growing dread — and hears faint footsteps behind them — as the Fellowship marches across the long dark of Moria, navigating the twists and turns with only Gandalf’s memory as their guide. But when they reach a fork in the road that the wizard can’t remember, what then? Maybe throwing a rock down this well will help. A passing reference to Middle-earth’s most notorious cat lady gets us chasing our tails in a screeching good sidebar, but before any of that, an interview with the acclaimed Tolkien artist Jenny Dolfen.
Feb 23, 2020
155 - Lovin', Touchin', Squeezin'
The Fellowship has found the Hollin Gate! But before they can enter Moria, they need to figure out the password. Merry stumbles upon a clue quickly, but no one notices, and Gandalf proceeds to shout spells at the door while something in the water waits for a chance to get handsy (tentaclesy?) with Frodo. Impulse control, Lovecraftian horrors, and an unusually high number of Monty Python references lie within (recorded prior to the passing of the great Terry Jones). Plus, word-nerdery about the worst password a Tolkien fan can use, friend.
Feb 16, 2020
154 - Separate Ways
After the warg attack the weather changes again, becoming sunny and clear. That’s terrible news, of course, since now the Fellowship is visible to any unfriendly eyes that may be watching. They must get under the mountains quickly, but first they have to find the Elven Door into Moria; and someone still needs to tell Sam that he can’t take his little pony underground. We examine the implications of separate doors for guests, talk about Tolkien’s flexibility with moon phases, and call a lifeline for a question about Dwarvish word-nerdery that is beyond our skill to nerd.
Feb 09, 2020
153 - When the Lights Go Down
Defeated by Caradhras, the Fellowship regroups and discusses what to do next. Going back — though supported by the second-breakfast faction — is not a viable option. Boromir, who was apparently napping through that part of the Council, continues to push for the Gap of Rohan. Finally, Gandalf makes a motion to go through Moria, and is seconded by a pack of hungry wargs. Amazingly, we do not revisit the whole warg/wolf/werewolf thing again (just kidding; we totally do). Plus, a heartwarming letter from the Professor to the Tolkien Society in This Week in Tolkien History.
Feb 02, 2020
152 - Trampled Under Snow
The crossing of cruel Caradhras is hindered by snow, wind, and falling stones that seem to be sent by some supernatural force. Who or what is against them is unclear, but it is clear that continuing on is not an option… and going back is not going to be easy. Fortunately, a few members of the company aren’t quite as short as the rest, and Gandalf has something in his flask that will keep their spirits up. Also: the 1911 hiking trip that inspired Tolkien’s perilous mountain crossings, Elf-jokes, and profound listener insights about the varying tones in the Red Book of Westmarch.
Jan 26, 2020
151 - Misty Mountain Hop
The Fellowship is forced to leave Hollin early when “no sign of life nearby” turns into “giant evil crows filling the sky”. Certain they are being watched, they get moving as soon as possible and make for the Misty Mountains, but Gandalf and Aragorn bicker like an old married couple about the best way to get across — if you’re more familiar with the movies, Gandalf’s choice may surprise you. Barliman brings us a welcome follow-up on a listener’s question about the friend who dismissed Tolkien as “nerdy”, and we seriously try to make “brupper” a thing, because the alternative is far worse. In memory of Christopher Tolkien, 1924 – 2020.
Jan 19, 2020
150 - Time to Ramble On
On a cold grey winter evening, Frodo sets out on the Quest of Mount Doom with eight companions. Boromir blows his horn to make sure everyone for miles around knows about their “secret” departure, and Gimli debates the value of oaths with Elrond before the Fellowship of the Ring says goodbye to the Last Homely House. We get knee-deep in Dwarvish word-nerdery, investigate Tolkien’s (unintentional?) symbolism in choosing Christmas Day as the start of the quest, and pass ourselves off as a couple of hoopy froods who really know where our towels are.
Jan 12, 2020
149 - Good Times Bad Times
We resume the narrative with the first part of “The Ring Goes South”, as Frodo and his friends come to terms with the decisions made at the Council of Elrond. But the Ring isn’t going anywhere for a couple of months; and that leaves time for scouts to scout, smiths to smith, and Bilbo to get all nostalgic. As the roster of the Fellowship is filled and Frodo and Aragorn get (not really) new swords, we take another look back at the “incident” in the Hall of Fire, and lament the endless abuse piled onto Pippin by everyone’s favorite wizard.
Jan 05, 2020
148 - Questions After Nightfall 9
Alan and Shawn once again open the doors of the common-room to our listeners for live, unscripted Q&A! We shoot from the hip on questions about “wild men”, Frodo’s mental resilience, and whether Fëanor really is just too melodramatic (spoiler: yes). Also, what is it that makes Tolkien’s work so enduringly popular, and does Tom Bombadil have a personal teleportation device? Answers to these questions and more inside… plus, great ideas about where to wear your Prancing Pony Podcast T-shirt.
Dec 15, 2019
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 your favorite hobbit actors, and learn why producers try (and often fail) to keep the writers out of the studio.
Dec 08, 2019
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 going up around the table.  
Nov 24, 2019
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 lucky person in Rivendell got picked to hang the Ring on Frodo’s neck.
Nov 17, 2019
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 eucatastrophes in our favorite non-Tolkien stories.
Nov 10, 2019
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 teenage preoccupations of one of our hosts.
Nov 03, 2019
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 Frodo showed Bilbo the Ring? And what's up with Boromir's hair?    
Oct 27, 2019
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, Shawn takes the helm in an intro segment that he’s way too excited about.
Oct 20, 2019
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! Dwarves are blinging! And Elrond makes a claim for the title of Best Elf Father-in-Law to a Man (your move, Thingol).
Oct 13, 2019
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 dangerous moment of all”. Also, another chance to talk about werewolves? Yes.
Oct 06, 2019
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 Age, and wouldn’t it be nice if they were still around?
Sep 29, 2019
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 put Tolkien 2019 behind us with a brief discussion of our favorite moments, and explore the answer to the burning question: Who’s more goth than Morgoth?
Sep 22, 2019
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 from our panel audience, questionable wardrobe choices, and some other unquestionably good stuff!
Sep 15, 2019
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 to be given a special project by Christopher Tolkien himself, and receive a comforting reminder that anyone can make a mistake.
Aug 04, 2019
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, and hip-but-casual footwear options for the discerning demiurge.
Jul 28, 2019
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 Shawn once again wonders about the smells of Middle-earth.  
Jul 21, 2019
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 is like a cell phone battery.
Jul 14, 2019
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 behind the poster for some obscure 1970s movie called Star Wars.
Jun 30, 2019
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 just be the next hot culinary trend.      
Jun 23, 2019
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.
Jun 16, 2019
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 how many quotes from The Princess Bride we can squeeze into a short amount of time. 
Jun 09, 2019
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 of Power, and word-nerdery on the itchiest place name in Middle-earth.
Jun 02, 2019
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 his exciting new project: the J.R.R. Tolkien Fandom Oral History Collection. 
May 26, 2019
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 bards, and reveal there’s more in our CD collections than just classic Rush albums. SPOILER ALERT: Our review of the new biopic film Tolkien is (of course) full of spoilers, and (also of course) went longer than we planned. If you haven't seen the film and don't want it spoiled, skip ahead to just before the 59-minute mark for our chapter discussion.
May 19, 2019
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 announce a Double Sidebar on an underlying theme in Tolkien’s poetry.
May 12, 2019
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, and walk in the Professor’s footsteps to the nearest pub.    
May 05, 2019
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 audience, and even trotted out a few old favorites.
Apr 28, 2019
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 Bombadil really is. A day may come when your hosts have an epic disagreement… is it this day?
Apr 14, 2019
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 to Call Your Pony” for $200, Alex.  
Apr 07, 2019
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 Rings–inspired parody songs that deserve better singers.
Mar 31, 2019
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 question from Barliman’s Bag.
Mar 24, 2019
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 Fëanor and Eöl have been buds?  
Mar 17, 2019
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 “Tom” so often, and just what is Goldberry washing anyway?   
Mar 10, 2019
115 - Fetch the Comfy Chairs
Frodo and friends get comfortable in the first half of “In the House of Tom Bombadil,” and Alan and Shawn finally begin to unwrap the enigma that is Tom and his wife Goldberry. While the hobbits eat and drink as only famished hobbits can, we dive into Tolkien’s letters, poetry, and more for clues to the nature of our mysterious hosts and their relationship; but don’t hold your breath for any conclusions just yet. We also answer a listener question on why Tom has been cut out of every screen adaptation so far, and get word-nerdy on one of Gandalf's most memorable lines.
Mar 03, 2019
114 - Race, Tolkien, and Middle-earth
For the first time ever, the Prancing Pony Podcast is proud to release one of our patron-exclusive episodes to our general audience. In this special originally released in October 2018, we take a serious look at a topic that’s not always easy to address. Tolkien’s work has occasionally been labeled as racially insensitive or (in some cases) outright racist. It’s something no Tolkien fan wants to hear, but is there any truth to it? We take a close look at the texts and Tolkien’s letters to attempt to dispel some myths… and confront some real concerns. 
Feb 24, 2019
113 - Trouble with the Trees
It’s nap time in the Old Forest as our heroes gradually succumb to the power of an ancient and angry willow. Sam rolls a natural 20 to resist the spell and manages to save Frodo, but Merry and Pippin are trapped inside the enormous tree. Just when all seems hopeless, a merry old fellow comes hopping along with a unique fashion sense and some very delicate lilies. We remember J.R.R. Tolkien’s brother Hilary and speculate about Old Man Willow; we’ll also answer all your questions about the enigmatic figure in the blue jacket and yellow boots… just not today.
Feb 17, 2019
112 - Unrest in the Forest
Frodo and his companions enter into the Old Forest in the first part of Book I, Chapter 6 of The Lord of the Rings. Merry has been beyond the Hedge before and does his best to guide them, but it’s hard to navigate a forest when the trees won’t stop moving. Something or someone is making a path before them, leading them inexorably into the deepest, strangest part of the forest. We answer more questions about the One Ring from Barliman’s Bag, discuss the Hobbits’ ruthless deforestation campaign, and get schooled by a listener on basic fractions.
Feb 10, 2019
111 - Eleventy-first Episode Extravaganza
Alan and Shawn are celebrating their eleventy-first episode with a party of special magnificence! But instead of inviting you to a feast and risking a possible appearance by the Sackville-Bagginses, we’re looking back at a few dozen of our best clips from the first three seasons of the PPP, nominated by our listeners. From the silliest jokes to the most tragic readings, from great insights and character voices to the most ridiculous mistakes imaginable, it’s all here in a special that goes ever on and on.
Feb 03, 2019
110 - With a Little Help from My Friends
A conspiracy is finally unmasked in the second half of “A Conspiracy Unmasked”! Frodo’s dread turns to relief when he learns his friends already know much more than he gave them credit for. They insist on leaving with him and promise to stick to him through thick and thin — all except for Fredegar, who finds those creepy, sniffing Black Riders far less scary than… uh, trees. We take time to analyze Frodo’s mysterious dream, wax poetic about the importance of fellowship, and get our hearts full of hobbitry with an uplifting Tolkien Quote of the Day.
Jan 27, 2019
109 - Hello, Goodbye
In the first half of Book I, Chapter 5 of The Lord of the Rings, the Hobbits cross the Brandywine and come to Frodo’s new digs at Crickhollow, where a hot bath and all the comforts of home await them. Frodo does his best to enjoy a well-earned second supper and good company, but a dark cloud hangs over him as he dreads having to tell his friends he won’t be staying. Also in this episode: architectural musings, more mushrooms, and speculation on why ordinary Hobbits like Maggot and the Gaffer don’t go all Sir Robin when face-to-face with a Ringwraith. 
Jan 20, 2019
108 - Ain't Gonna Walk on Maggot's Farm No More
The second half of “A Short Cut to Mushrooms” finds Frodo almost as scared of Farmer Maggot as he is of the Black Rider following him. His fears are quickly eased, however, and he finds a good friend in an unexpected place. We discuss the hospitality of hobbits (and their mistrust of outsiders), talk with our North Wing guest about the value of finding one’s tribe among the Tolkien community, and answer questions from Barliman’s Bag about Sauron’s tactical decisions. Also, how to make mushroom soup sound even less appetizing.
Jan 13, 2019
107 - The Nazgûl is Wailin' in the Wind
We begin the new year with a Tolkien Fun Fact in honor of the Professor’s birthday before starting on Book I, Chapter 4 of The Lord of the Rings, “A Short Cut to Mushrooms.” Frodo, Sam, and Pippin wake up after the Elf-party refreshed and encouraged, and soon fall into a false sense of security… but a piercing cry on the wind reminds them that danger is still very near. We discuss the Ringwraiths in an extended sidebar, and go back to all our old wells of pop culture referentiality. Admit it: you totally expected the Spanish Inquisition.
Jan 06, 2019
An Evergreen PPP Holiday Event - The Father Christmas Letters
In what has officially become an annual event, join Alan and Shawn as they use the wayback machine to revisit episode 028 in this special director's cut re-release of our episode on Letters From Father Christmas. Marvel at how far we've come since our early days, but mostly enjoy the charming adventures of Tolkien's creations at The North Pole!
Dec 23, 2018
106 - Questions After Nightfall 5
It’s time once again for Alan and Shawn to welcome several visitors to the Prancing Pony! Hear us stay mostly on topic as we attempt to answer live, unscripted “Ask Me Anything”–style questions about The Lord of the Rings and much more. We revisit recent mailbag questions on Bilbo’s wealth and the Dead Men of Dunharrow, say a few premature words about Tom Bombadil (whom we’ll be getting to soon enough, we promise!), and demonstrate that the only thing worse than Alan’s Tom Hanks impression is Shawn’s Tim Allen impression.
Dec 16, 2018
105 - Who Wants to Leave Forever?
Now with more Elves — for a limited time only! Book I, Chapter 3 of The Lord of the Rings concludes with a meeting between our hobbit heroes and the company of Gildor Inglorion in the Woody End. We reach back into The Silmarillion for a recap of the Elf kindreds, and turn to one of Tolkien’s letters (guess which one!) for a reminder of their destiny: to fade and leave Middle-earth to Men. We also take a look at This Week in Tolkien History, and our extended discussion about the stars may send you venturing into the attic to find your old telescope. 
Dec 09, 2018
104 - I See a Little Silhouetto of a Man
We return to Book I, Chapter 3 of The Lord of the Rings to find Frodo, Sam, and Pippin still in high spirits as they stroll through the Shire. Before long, though, they realize that they’re being followed by a shadowy, sniffing black rider. We talk about the “unpremeditated turn” that transformed Tolkien’s Hobbit sequel into something darker and more adult, investigate trouble with the Big People, and even receive alarming news about Lobelia’s questionable plantation income. Oh, and if you hear surf guitars, get to high ground immediately. 
Dec 02, 2018
103 - Goodbye Everybody, I've Got to Go
We begin Book I, Chapter 3 of The Lord of the Rings, “Three is Company”. After months of preparation, Frodo sells Bag End. He leaves home with Sam and Pippin on a pretense of moving back to Buckland, but before they even get to the bottom of the Hill, there are already hints that he is being followed. A new installment of Meanwhile, Elsewhere in Middle-earth uncovers why Gandalf ran off in such a hurry, and a listener question about Sauron's motives gives us a chance to meet the new Dark Lord (not quite the same as the old Dark Lord).
Nov 18, 2018
102 - Arthur of the Century: An Interview with Sørina Higgins
Draw the sword from the stone and light the grail-shaped beacon as we welcome Sørina Higgins — editor of the award-winning book The Inklings and King Arthur — to the Prancing Pony Podcast! We discuss the various ways each of the Inklings adapted the Arthurian legend for the twentieth century, including Tolkien’s incomplete poem The Fall of Arthur. We learn more about Tolkien’s relationships within the famous literary group and even get an up-close look at Charles Williams, whom Sørina writes about at her blog The Oddest Inkling. Warning: some mature content.
Nov 11, 2018
101 - Now I Need a Place to Hide Away
In the final pages of Book I, Chapter 2, “The Shadow of the Past”, Gandalf recounts how he found Gollum and filled in the gaps in the Ring’s history. Frodo begins to understand what he must do; and while he’s not exactly eager to do it, he won’t have to do it alone. We spend some time on Gandalf’s words to Frodo about the importance of pity, and flip ahead to Book IV of The Lord of the Rings for a chilling account of Gollum’s torture at the hand of Sauron. Plus, a listener question leads us into a conversation about magic, Morgoth, and MacGuffins.
Nov 04, 2018
100 - There's a Shadow Hanging Over Me
In the second of three episodes on Book I, Chapter 2, “The Shadow of the Past”, Gandalf gives Frodo a brief history of the Rings of Power and the tragic tale of how the One Ring came to Sméagol, better known as Gollum. But Frodo finds some parts of the story hard to swallow, especially the one that wanders around making a gurgling sound in its throat. We answer a question about Middle-earth’s walking dead just in time for Halloween, talk with Shaun Gunner of the Tolkien Society about Oxonmoot, Tolkien 2019, and reveal a big announcement about the PPP!
Oct 28, 2018
099 - Yesterday, All My Troubles Seemed So Far Away
Years have passed since the farewell party, and as the first part of Book I, Chapter 2, “The Shadow of the Past” unfolds, Frodo has come into his own as the new resident oddball at Bag End. But rumor begins to reach the Shire about a growing shadow in the East, and soon Gandalf returns (after not quite seventeen years) with foreboding news about Bilbo’s magic ring. Tolkien meets Jane Austen in an eye-opening mailbag submission, and a brief but most excellent appearance is made by Messrs. Preston and Logan of San Dimas.
Oct 21, 2018
098 - Questions After Nightfall 4
Once again, Alan and Shawn are joined live by several visitors to the Prancing Pony for some “Ask Me Anything”-style unscripted questions! Topics include the representation of women in Tolkien’s works, SPBMI in the Third Age, Tom Bombadil, and more! Plus, corrections to our first The Lord of the Rings chapter discussion just keep piling up… and we breathe a sigh of relief over a welcome softball question about the enduring appeal of Monty Python.
Oct 14, 2018
097 - A Hard Day's Night
Book I, Chapter 1 of The Lord of the Rings concludes with the aftermath of the birthday party. Bilbo has left behind gifts for friends and family ranging from the sincere to the brilliantly snarky, but no trace of gold or “jools”. As the Sackville-Bagginses come to terms with their meager inheritance, Frodo settles in as master of Bag End… and owner of a certain magic ring. We name unnamed dwarves, speculate wildly about the Dúnedain of the North (despite Tolkien’s best efforts), and remember another legendary hero with the initials F.B.: Ferris Bueller.   
Oct 07, 2018
096 - I Don't Want to Spoil the Party, So I'll Go
As Book I, Chapter 1 of The Lord of the Rings continues, the Baggins binary birthday bash begins with food, fireworks, and no unwanted poetry. Bilbo actually has something far more noteworthy in mind: a dramatic and immediate departure. As the flabbergasted guests eat and drink away their confusion, Gandalf confronts Bilbo about… well, you know. We discuss Tolkien’s comments on the longevity of Ringbearers, bring out the Fëanor piñata once again, and introduce a brand-new segment: Meanwhile, Elsewhere in Middle-earth. 
Sep 30, 2018
095 - They Say It's Your Birthday
In the first pages of Book I, Chapter 1 of The Lord of the Rings, “A Long-Expected Party”, we see Bilbo Baggins through the eyes of the hobbits of the Shire, not all of whom view him kindly. Seeming eccentric to some and suspicious to others, Bilbo is nevertheless the chief topic of conversation as the occasion of his eleventy-first birthday approaches. While the Gaffer gabs in the Ivy Bush, we discuss the secret ambitions of the Sackville-Bagginses, admire Tolkien’s intractability towards proofreaders, and have fun with numbers in Old English.
Sep 23, 2018
094 - This Shire is Your Shire
Never ones to skip over the pages with Roman numerals, we begin reading The Lord of the Rings at the famous Foreword, where Tolkien offered his most well-known comments on his own work, including his thoughts about allegory. Next, the Prologue explains in rich detail the history of the Shire, pipe-weed, and the sticky story of how Bilbo found his ring. Along the way, we discuss the origins (and, uh, the 'final destination') of Hobbits, the Red Book of Westmarch, and lob more classic movie references than your best friend from high school on a Saturday night.
Sep 16, 2018
093 - We're In the Same Tale Still!
At long last, we finally… really this time… begin The Lord of the Rings! In this episode, we introduce the novel (not a trilogy) with the epic story of its composition and publication. Almost immediately after The Hobbit was published, Tolkien’s publishers demanded a sequel; but the road from idea to publication took the Professor seventeen long years, with more twists and turns than a goblin-tunnel. Plus, the story of the Professor’s appearance at a hobbit-themed dinner in 1958 in a combined Tolkien Quote of the Day / Tolkien Fun Fact.
Sep 09, 2018
092 - We're Not Saying It's Monsters, But It's Monsters
Before turning to The Lord of the Rings, Alan and Shawn gain some needed insight with a look at Tolkien’s influential essay “Beowulf: The Monsters and the Critics.” Tolkien’s response to the prevailing theories of his day about the Old English poem ushered in a new era in Beowulf scholarship; and like “On Fairy-Stories,” its concepts help us better understand the Middle-earth legendarium. As the battle rages between humanity and the forces of darkness, some beloved children’s characters enter the fray… and we remember a key lesson from Galaxy Quest.
Sep 02, 2018
091 - Laughing Shall We Die: An Interview with Tom Shippey
Season 3 is here, and we begin by welcoming Tom Shippey to The Prancing Pony Podcast! We discuss his classic works The Road to Middle-earth and J. R. R. Tolkien: Author of the Century, and the remarkable story of his personal meeting with Professor Tolkien in 1972. We also talk about his new book Laughing Shall I Die, an exploration of the Viking heroic mindset and their grim (often inappropriate) sense of humor. Plus, the shocking link between Beowulf and a young woman searching for the perfect bowl of porridge.
Aug 26, 2018
090 - Between Light and Dark: An Interview with Verlyn Flieger
Alan and Shawn are honored to welcome Verlyn Flieger, author of There Would Always Be a Fairy Tale, to The Prancing Pony Podcast! We discuss her new book, her work co-editing the annual journal Tolkien Studies, and of course, her classic study of the legendarium, Splintered Light. We also learn about the best way to read Tolkien’s letters, drool over reports from the recent Bodleian Library exhibition, and applaud the way Dr. Flieger turns the tables and interviews us for a change.
Jul 08, 2018
089 - Questions After Nightfall 3
It’s time for the latest Prancing Pony Podcast Q&A episode! This time around, Alan and Shawn attempt to answer live questions from guest patrons on life lessons in Tolkien’s works, symbolism in the story of Beren and Lúthien, The Lord of the Rings Online, and more! We revisit a recent Barliman’s Bag question about Middle-earth heroes breaking into song, and boldly try to work out whether the most memorable line in Bilbo’s birthday speech is a compliment. Plus, a recent comment about Thorin Oakenshield incites one listener to school us on ancient history.
Jul 01, 2018
088 - Live From Mythmoot Five
Alan and Shawn finally draw swords together in person for a live recording from Mythmoot V in Leesburg, Virginia! We interview this year’s special guests, including Signum University president Corey Olsen, Tolkien and the Great War author John Garth, The Annotated Hobbit editor Douglas A. Anderson, and Klingon conlanger Marc Okrand. We look back at the history of the podcast, answer questions from the audience (many of whom have never had to suffer through our jokes for an entire podcast before), and finally revisit pantsless bears, Schrödinger’s Dwarf, and “when to swipe left” in our first-ever live trivia competition.
Jun 27, 2018
087 - No Shrubberies: The Hobbit Retrospective
Oh, what sad times are these when Tolkien podcasters can make it through an entire season without a single reference to shrubberies? For our final episode on The Hobbit, we return with a retrospective: one that sounds nice (of course!) and not too expensive. First, we cut down the mightiest themes in the story wiiith… a revisiting! Then we answer your questions in an extra-long Barliman’s Bag segment, placed beside the first segment, so we get the two-segment effect with a little path running down the middle. You must listen or else you will never pass through this season… alliiive! 
Jun 17, 2018
086 - Not Quite Dead
Having survived trolls, goblins, wolves, spiders, riddles with Gollum and Smaug, the horror of battle, and the rude awakening of Elvish singing, Bilbo Baggins makes it back home again in the last chapter of The Hobbit. All of his neighbors are surprised to find him alive, some are disappointed; and even Gandalf knows Bilbo is not the hobbit he was. We discuss the “mere luck” of “a little fellow in a wide world,” discover Tolkien's philological hint at the snobbery of the Sackville-Bagginses, and sing way too many classic rock radio hits.
Jun 10, 2018
085 - Bilbo "Two Chests" Baggins
Bilbo wakes up after the Battle of Five Armies in Chapter 18 of The Hobbit, dazed, confused, and very much invisible. Returning to camp, he has a bittersweet reunion with Thorin Oakenshield and realizes that his adventure has finally come to an end. He bids a fond farewell before turning back for home with the friendship of both Elves and Dwarves, and a pretty decent retirement lined up. We estimate the value of Bilbo’s take-home pay, investigate the limits of the One Ring’s invisibility effect, and speculate on Aulë’s possible resemblance to his most bearded creations.
Jun 03, 2018
084 - The Violence Inherent in the System
As Chapter 17 of The Hobbit begins, the Lonely Mountain is under siege. Thorin — hanging on to outdated imperialist dogma which perpetuates the economic and social differences in Middle-earth — refuses to negotiate, knowing Dain is on his way. When Bilbo’s plot is revealed, Thorin goes into a rage and orders him gone (“‘Order’, eh? ‘Oo does ‘e think ‘e is?”); but just as all looks hopeless, goblins attack, and we see the… well, you know. The Battle of Five Armies begins, and we look back at Tolkien’s famous essay “On Fairy-Stories” to explain the sudden turn of events.  
May 27, 2018
083 - Oh Yes, Ees Very Nice-uh
In Chapter 16 of The Hobbit, little Bilbo takes matters (and the Arkenstone) into his own hands and makes a deal with Bard and the Elvenking, who presumably don’t already have one, in an attempt to end the standoff peacefully. We consider just how short-sighted Thorin’s position really is, discuss how Bilbo totally owns the whole “honest burglar” thing, and finally welcome the return of one of Tolkien’s most beloved characters. Plus still more raven voices, and a question from Barliman’s Bag about Gandalf’s D&D character sheet that makes us reach for a lifeline.
May 20, 2018
082 - What is the Airspeed Velocity of a Decrepit Old Raven?
In Chapter 15, birds again show that their value in The Hobbit far outweighs their inability to carry a coconut. Bilbo and the Dwarves learn of Smaug’s death from the wise old raven Roäc, but they also learn that a host of Elves and Men is on its way to the Lonely Mountain —probably not to help redecorate. Will Thorin give charity to those in need, or has the dragon-sickness already taken root? We discuss the surprising similarities between Thorin and some of Tolkien’s greatest villains, and croak our way through more avian dialogue than ever before (or again, we hope).
May 13, 2018
081 - Always Look on the Bright Side of Life
We cut away to Lake-town for Chapter 14 of The Hobbit, as the people of Esgaroth slowly realize that the lights coming from the Lonely Mountain are not the triumphant King Thorin flooding the river with gold, but a very angry dragon. The town worrier turns town warrior and leads the people in a valiant defense, but the cost is high… and everyone looks to the Mountain for compensation. We discuss how Bard the Bowman narrowly escaped death by a stroke of Tolkien’s pen, and try one last time to resolve the question of thrush-language.  
May 06, 2018
080 - And There Was Much Rejoicing
Trapped in the side-door tunnel at the beginning of Chapter 13 of The Hobbit, “Not at Home,” Bilbo leads the party in the only direction they can go: down. At the bottom they find no sign of Smaug, and the Dwarves rejoice at the recovery of their lost treasure. Only Mr. Baggins realizes that the celebration is premature and wonders where the dragon is. We examine the Arkenstone and the many meanings of a deceptively complex chapter title, and if you thought cram was hard to eat, wait until you hear how hard it is to figure out its etymology.
Apr 29, 2018
079 - Smaug Gets Quite Irate
In the second half of Chapter 12 of The Hobbit, Bilbo returns to Smaug’s lair to find the dragon waiting for him. Luckily he has on his ring, but the dragon senses his presence, and soon he is locked in a battle of wits with the wily worm. Bilbo’s Tookish side comes out as he plays at riddles, but Smaug quickly turns from cunning to cranky, and looks for someone to take out his aggression on. Before any of that, however, we have a little fun with young Tolkien’s first dragon story, explore a rare biblical reference in Middle-earth, and engage in some wild speculation on the identity of the mysterious King Bladorthin.
Apr 22, 2018
078 - Every Worm is Sacred
As we begin Chapter 12 of The Hobbit, Bilbo the burglar is finally ready to enter Smaug’s lair alone, if only to get away from yet another self-important speech by Thorin. Braving the sleeping dragon, he manages to remove one piece of treasure from the hoard. But one piece at a time won’t cut it, and Smaug knows when something has been stolen. We delve into a Middle English proverb, Tolkien’s translation of Beowulf, and the life expectancy of dragons. Plus, we get to know another special guest in our second-ever North Wing segment.
Apr 15, 2018
077 - Questions After Nightfall 2
In our second Prancing Pony Podcast Q&A episode, Alan and Shawn answer live questions from guest patrons on diverse topics, from the fate of Dwarves after death to which character we’d cosplay as… if either of us ever left the house, of course. Hear your hosts attempt to pronounce Eorl and wax philosophical about who the true hero of The Lord of the Rings really is (hint: not Eorl). Plus, a friendly warning that some of the youngest Tolkien fans are not happy with a recent answer to Barliman’s Bag. 
Apr 08, 2018
076 - The Ministry of Silly Locks
In Chapter 11 of The Hobbit, Bilbo and the Dwarves finally reach the Lonely Mountain, but they don’t know where the hidden door is. Then they find the door, but they don’t know how to open it. Fortunately, they do have an ancient map and a very lucky Hobbit with them, and they’ve arrived just in time. While Bilbo looks back to the west, missing his hobbit-hole, we talk once again about how he is the only person keeping this quest afloat. Plus a foolish Tolkien Fun Fact, and astronomical calculations to confusticate your average Dwarf… or podcast host.
Apr 01, 2018
075 - Tolkien Reading Day Special 2018
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 aloud. The theme for 2018 is Home and Hearth: the many ways of being a Hobbit. From the Shire to Cirith Ungol and back again, Alan and Shawn rattle on like Gaffer Gamgee at the Ivy Bush, reading passages from The Lord of the Rings that illustrate Hobbit ways.
Mar 25, 2018
074 - A Mandate From the Masses
Please keep your arms and legs inside the barrels at all times, until the ride comes to a complete stop in Lake-town where our heroes arrive, barely, in Chapter 10 of The Hobbit. Most of the Lake-towners have forgotten the past, but some still sing about the return of a nigh-legendary King under the Mountain. While Thorin soaks up the town’s adoration, only Bilbo seems to realize that the Mountain has not been won yet, and the most dangerous part of the journey is yet to come. We take a moment to appreciate the vast improvement in the depiction of Dwarves from Tolkien’s earliest writings, and look again at fate and free will.
Mar 18, 2018
073 - Some Farcical Aquatic Ceremony
It’s the world’s worst whitewater rafting trip in the second half of Chapter 9 of The Hobbit! Bilbo reveals his plan for escaping the Elvenking’s halls. His friends are, quite understandably, less than enthusiastic, but with both time and ideas running out, it’s into the barrels they go! As they float away to freedom (or death), we learn more about Elvish wine, Dwarvish claustrophobia, and Hobbits’ legendary fear of water. Also, an excuse to talk about Eärendil (as if Shawn needed one), and historic moments from the War of the Ring remembered in a special Tolkien history segment.
Mar 11, 2018
072 - King Name-Not-Appearing-In-This-Book
The rest of the Dwarves are taken by the Elves in the first half of Chapter 9 of The Hobbit. Bilbo avoids capture thanks to his ring, only to get stuck hiding for weeks in the Elvenking’s halls. Fortunately, Mr. Invisible Baggins keeps busy with more than just pilfering food, and soon an escape plan begins to take shape in the king’s impressive wine cellars. A listener question leads us to consider the difference between burglars and thieves, and Tolkien’s unfinished poetry offers another classic tale of Elves under the influence.
Mar 04, 2018
071 - Fortress Around Your Hoard
In our final episode on Chapter 8 of The Hobbit, Bilbo dispatches the Mirkwood spiders and rescues his friends, though it must be said that one beard sadly perishes in the effort. Thorin, however, has already been taken prisoner by the Elvenking, whose name is conspicuously missing from the pages of this book. We revisit the early chapters of The Silmarillion for a quick reminder about the difference between Wood-elves and the High Elves of the West, and finally learn why baby Tolkien was tougher than our kids will ever be.
Feb 25, 2018
070 - If You Love Somebody, Cut Them Free
The second of three episodes on Chapter 8 of The Hobbit. As Mirkwood continues with no apparent end, our heroes get desperate and stray from the path when they see Elves feasting in a clearing nearby. They try three times to crash the party, but each time chaos ensues, and soon Bilbo finds himself alone in the dark with several Spiders of Unusual Size. We witness Bilbo’s most Tookish moment yet, learn about several games of the aiming and throwing sort, and rack up a number of reasons to apologize to Mr. Gordon Sumner.
Feb 18, 2018
069 - Be Still My Fleeting Hart
In the first episode of our trilogy on Chapter 8 of The Hobbit, Bilbo and the Dwarves enter Mirkwood and quickly learn the true meaning of the term "pitch-dark.” As the days drag on, their hunger and desperation grow, and there seems to be no end to the forest… but at least the spiders here are just small ones of Ordinary Size. We discuss Tolkien's folklore inspirations for the dark wood on the edge of the world, the enchanted stream, and more, then lighten the mood with an imaginary photographic tour of Middle-earth.
Feb 11, 2018
068 - Exit, Pursued by a Bear
We resume Chapter 7 of The Hobbit. Bilbo and the Dwarves spend a few days as the guests of Beorn, comfortable despite the occasional late-night sounds of a hungry bear on the other side of the door. After verifying their story personally, Beorn agrees to help the party with food, advice, and more… but he still doesn’t trust the Dwarves completely. We go further into the nature of Beorn and his place in the overall legendarium, and a Tolkien Fun Fact gives us a much-needed reason to revisit our favorite ursine from the Father Christmas letters.
Feb 04, 2018
067 - Forget About Your Worries and Your Strife
Chapter 7 of The Hobbit begins with a rude awakening in an Eagle’s eyrie. But our heroes are soon off on their way again, and find themselves at the home of Beorn the skin-changer. Is he a man that changes into a bear, or a bear that changes into a man? Find out as we explore the linguistic and mythical inspirations for one of Middle-earth's most enigmatic characters. We also remember a poignant letter J.R.R. once received from a friend on This Week in Tolkien History, and ask you to bear with us as we discuss our favorite music inspired by the legendarium.
Jan 28, 2018
066 - A Slaying Song Tonight: An Interview with Michael Drout
Alan and Shawn are delighted to welcome Michael Drout to The Prancing Pony Podcast! As co-founder and co-editor of the journal Tolkien Studies and multiple books on the Professor, Drout is one of the most prolific Tolkien scholars in the field today. We talk to him about his personal discovery of Tolkien, the future of Tolkien studies and fandom, and Beowulf. Plus, we discuss the very highest quality of The Lord of the Rings Online players, and how to write a new Old English poem more well-known than some of the originals.
Jan 21, 2018
065 - Lobbest Thou Thy Holy Pine Grenade
We pick up Chapter 6 of The Hobbit with our heroes literally up a tree. Gandalf keeps the wolves at bay by playing with fire, but when the goblins arrive, things quickly heat up for Bilbo and his friends. Just as the situation begins to go up in smoke, unexpected help comes from above. We talk about the Eagles, their role in the legendarium, and the dangers Tolkien saw in using them too much in his stories. We also do a quick background check on Gandalf and recite some more goblin poetry bad enough to make a Vogon (and your hosts) cringe.
Jan 14, 2018
064 - And Now, the Larch
As Chapter 6 of The Hobbit opens, Bilbo emerges from the mountains and soon hears the familiar voices of Gandalf and the Dwarves. He sneaks up on them with the help of his new ring, and finally wins some respect with his stealth and the tale of his escape. But the happy reunion proves short-lived; the company move on, coming to a clearing in the woods… and find themselves surrounded by howling wolves. We revisit the nature of wargs, showcase our limited botanical knowledge, and enjoy yet another philological joke from Professor Tolkien.
Jan 07, 2018
063 - How Not to Be Seen
We conclude our trilogy of episodes on Chapter 5 of The Hobbit. Gollum begins to realize that Bilbo has his ring, and Bilbo begins to realize what it does. He uses its power of invisibility to escape from Gollum, but stops short of killing the wretched creature: an act of pity that will have great implications for Bilbo and for Middle-earth. We turn again to the first edition to see how Tolkien’s minor edits changed the ring from a magical trinket into an artifact of power with a will of its own, and your hosts thankfully retire their Gollum voices until The Lord of the Rings.
Dec 17, 2017
062 - Ere the Other Side He See
Our second episode on Chapter 5 of The Hobbit. Tension mounts as the riddle contest between Bilbo and Gollum continues, with Bilbo’s life at stake. His luck saves him in the final round, but when Gollum accuses him of not playing fair, he’s still very much in danger. We compare the current text to the first edition to see how Tolkien transformed Gollum from a hungry, but honest, monster into a “miserable wicked creature” corrupted by the One Ring. And we welcome a listener to The North Wing of the Prancing Pony in a new segment!
Dec 10, 2017
061 - Answer Me These Questions Five...
The first of three episodes on Chapter 5 of The Hobbit. Bilbo wakes up in the darkness below the mountains, and soon finds himself in a life-or-death riddle-game with one of Tolkien's most infamous creations: Gollum. We begin to discuss the changes made to this chapter during the composition of The Lord of the Rings, as Tolkien’s understanding of Gollum and the ring changed. Also, we look to the Professor’s own words for context about the newly announced Amazon series in a new segment: The Tolkien Quote of the Day.
Dec 03, 2017
060 - Questions After Nightfall 1
It’s our first ever Prancing Pony Podcast Q&A episode! Alan and Shawn answer live questions from our very special guests, ranging from the fun to the philosophical. Topics include our favorite villains, the surprising similarities between goblins and dwarves, and the importance of reading Tolkien's poetry aloud. Also Entwives, and the uncanny ability of goblins to recognize millennia-old Elvish swords.
Nov 19, 2017
059 - Run Away!
As we resume Chapter 4 of The Hobbit, Bilbo and friends are captured by goblins. Thorin Oakenshield’s name and reputation are known in these parts, and the Great Goblin does not take kindly to his arrival. Gandalf comes to the rescue with his shining Elven-sword, allowing our heroes a chance to escape… maybe. We get word-nerdy to explain Tolkien’s use of the terms ‘goblin’ and ‘orc’, have fun with goblin voices, and a Tolkien Fun Fact reminds us how different the Professor’s school days were
Nov 12, 2017
058 - There Lies a Cave
In Chapter 4 of The Hobbit, our heroes begin the crossing of the mountains under threat of stormy weather and rock-hurling stone-giants. They seek shelter in a cave, but caves up in the mountains are seldom unoccupied, and this one is no exception. We investigate the nature of the mysterious stone-giants, a new Philology Faire segment unveils surprises in Tolkien’s original conception of Treebeard, and we get a little spooky for a listener question about the Dead Marshes.
Nov 05, 2017
057 - 'Tis a Silly Place
In Chapter 3 of The Hobbit, Bilbo’s story takes its first steps into Tolkien’s greater mythology, but these aren’t your grandfather’s Eldar. We uncover the hidden secrets of the notorious “silly Elves” of Rivendell, introduce Elrond, and discuss the incredible luck of arriving at the Last Homely House at precisely the right time. Also, a listener question sends us searching for the reason why Gandalf didn’t seem to know where his new sword came from.
Oct 29, 2017
056 - He’s a Burglar and He’s OK
In Chapter 2 of The Hobbit, Bilbo Baggins wakes up to the pleasant lack of Dwarves. He’s beginning to think that he’s escaped adventure after all when Gandalf pushes him out the door. Immediately, little Bilbo misses the comforts of home, but the trouble is just beginning… and before they even reach the dangerous part of the road, he must test his burglarious skills on a trio of hungry, if illiterate, trolls. Plus, we let the Professor make the bad puns for once in a new Tolkien Fun Fact.
Oct 22, 2017
055 - Pining for the Hoards
We wrap up Chapter 1 of The Hobbit, “An Unexpected Party”, where Bilbo’s Tookish side is awakened by the mysterious dwarf-song filling his home, but his Baggins side is less enthusiastic once Thorin and Gandalf lay out the details of the dwarves’ quest. Will Bilbo stay safely in his comfortable hole, or will he rise to the challenge like his great golfing ancestor Bullroarer Took? Also: more word-nerdery as we talk about Tolkien’s use of the plural form ‘dwarves’ in the first installment of another new show segment: Philology Faire.
Oct 15, 2017
054 - Nobody Expects the Dwarvish Inquisition
We begin our reading of The Hobbit with the famous first line and meet Bilbo Baggins, living a predictable life of luxury and ease until Gandalf comes by one Tuesday morning. Soon Bilbo’s world is turned upside down by an unexpected party of hungry dwarves, and his comfortable life is threatened. Along the way, we discuss the enduring courtesy of hobbits, the dangers of saying “Good morning” to wizards, and offer fashion tips for homeless dwarves. Plus, the first installment of our new segment: Today in Tolkien History.
Oct 08, 2017
053 - A Hole New World
It’s the start of Season 2 here on The Prancing Pony Podcast as we start discussing the book that first introduced Middle-earth to the world: J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit! In this episode, we look at the novel’s composition, publication and lasting legacy. Alan and Shawn share their personal stories about reading The Hobbit for the first time, and talk about the Professor’s surprising genealogy in a welcome return of the Tolkien Fun Fact segment. Plus, learn how young Christopher Tolkien’s attention to detail tended to confusticate and bebother his father.
Sep 24, 2017
052 - Exploring The Hobbit and More: An Interview with Corey Olsen
In honor of the 80th anniversary of the publication of The Hobbit, Alan and Shawn are excited to welcome Corey Olsen, the Tolkien Professor himself, to The Prancing Pony Podcast! We talk about Corey’s work as a Tolkien podcaster — and get the latest news about Signum University, Mythgard Institute, and more — before jumping into a discussion of his book Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Hobbit. Plus, sage advice for parents seeking to raise the next generation of Tolkien-loving fantasy geeks.
Sep 21, 2017
051 - Why Does It Hurt So Much?: The Hobbit Film Trilogy
It’s there and back again at the movies with the Prancing Pony Podcast! After talking about The Lord of the Rings films in our last episode, Alan and Shawn dive into Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit film trilogy. Once again, we watch clips of the changes we liked (and just a few of the ones we didn’t) and discuss them, returning to Tolkien’s own observations about film adaptation to assess the films fairly. Luck lost, love found, dragon-sickness… and how will we ever know if four-legs got some? Video version available on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Sep 10, 2017
050 - You Have Kept Your Honor: The Lord of the Rings Film Trilogy
Put aside the books and join us at the movies! In this episode, Alan and Shawn discuss Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings film trilogy. We watch clips of our favorite (and not-so-favorite) changes and go back to Tolkien’s own words about film adaptation to understand why some worked and others didn’t. Blazing beacons, tragic deaths, Elves where Elves have no business being… they’re all here in this action-packed, star-studded, Oscar-winner-watching episode of the Prancing Pony Podcast! Video version available on YouTube, Facebook and Twitter.
Aug 27, 2017
049 - The First Age Strikes Back: The Silmarillion Retrospective
A long time ago, in a galaxy not so far away, Alan and Shawn started discussing The Silmarillion. Now, witness the power of this fully armed and operational retrospective episode! First, we open Barliman’s Bag and stay on target to answer as many questions about the First and Second Ages as we can. Then we search our feelings for our favorite recurring themes in The Silmarillion and discuss Morgoth’s playbook for evil, the greatness of Finrod, the enduring importance of hope in Tolkien’s works, and more. And we make use of our Star Wars referencing skills for the first time in a long time… a long time. 
Aug 13, 2017
048 - People Are People
In the second half of "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age,” Isildur refuses to destroy the One Ring when he has the chance, keeping it as his prize from the vanquished Sauron. But he is stripped of the Ring, and his life, when he's ambushed by Orcs on his way home. It’s only a question of time before the Ring is found centuries later by one of the fisher-folk living near the river, and eventually comes to the hand of some creature called a Hobbit from some place called the Shire. Think you've heard this one before? Not so fast! We go back to Tolkien's Unfinished Tales to learn more about Isildur's death at the Gladden Fields and the origin of the Istari or Wizards. We also dig up some blasphemous rumours about the origins of Orcs to answer a listener question.
Jul 30, 2017
047 - Never Let Me Down Again
Alan and Shawn rewind to the end of the War of Wrath to begin "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age." Sauron refuses to beg the Valar’s pardon for his misdeeds, and remains in Middle-earth to follow in Morgoth’s footsteps as the new Dark Lord. Men prove easy to sway with pleasure and a little treasure, but it’s the Elves that Sauron wants now, courting them with secret knowledge. He soon finds ready pupils in Celebrimbor and the Noldorin smiths of Eregion, who use their new knowledge to make the Rings of Power; but Sauron is really behind the wheel, and in secret he makes another ring to have and to hold in domination over the others: One Ring to… well, you know the rest.
Jul 16, 2017
046 - Master and Servant
The second of two episodes on the Akallabêth, Tolkien's story of Númenor. Ar-Pharazôn is offered no resistance by Sauron, and gets the bright idea to take him as a hostage. Soon, you-know-who has wormed his way into the King’s trust and turned the Númenóreans to the worship of Melkor. As Sauron’s cult gains power in the kingdom, the Faithful led by Amandil and Elendil are persecuted; the aging Ar-Pharazôn prepares his armada to sail to the Undying Lands to take immortality by force, and the Valar respond with a disaster of biblical proportions. Also, Alan and Shawn finally disagree about something: Genesis.
Jul 02, 2017
045 - Just Can’t Get Enough
The first of two episodes on the Akallabêth, the story of Númenor. At the outset of the Second Age, the Valar reward the Edain with wisdom, long life and their own private island in the Great Sea. The Númenóreans become legendary seafarers, sailing east to the edge of Arda and bringing knowledge back to Middle-earth. But the Valar forbid them to sail west in search of the Undying Lands, and soon the Númenóreans begin to yearn for the one thing they cannot have: immortality. We look into Tolkien's essays and letters to see what happens to mortals who do come to Aman, and dabble in genealogy with questionable results. 
Jun 18, 2017
044 - The Threshold of Middle-earth: An Interview with John Garth
Alan and Shawn are honored to welcome John Garth, the award-winning author of Tolkien and the Great War and Tolkien at Exeter College, to The Prancing Pony Podcast! John’s work as a biographer and researcher offers a rare glimpse into the early life of J.R.R. Tolkien, and the experiences and ideas that helped shape the Middle-earth legendarium. We discuss war, friendship, sorrow, and tales of college tomfoolery that may surprise you.
Jun 11, 2017
043 - The Final Frontier
Join Alan and Shawn as they don red shirts for the final chapter of the Quenta Silmarillion, the voyages of the star-ship Vingilot. Its continuing mission: to bring Eärendil and Elwing into the West, to seek the pardon and aid of the Valar, and to become a beacon of hope for Elves and Men forever after. The ensuing War of Wrath leaves behind a strange new world, and each of the Silmarils boldly goes where no one has gone before… or ever will again.
Jun 04, 2017
042 - Resistance is Futile
We return to Chapter 23 of The Silmarillion with our second episode on Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin. Tuor’s star rises in the realm of Turgon, and soon he finds himself wedded to Idril Celebrindal, becoming the second Man ever to marry one of the Firstborn. But Maeglin is bitter at his cousin’s rejection, and soon Morgoth seizes on his discontent to fulfill some long-laid plans of his own. We trek with you through the flames, the fights, and the frights of the fall of the last Elven stronghold in Beleriand, and hint at the hope to come. Plus, don’t miss Alan’s impression of a beloved Hollywood icon.
May 28, 2017
041 - Make It So
In the first of two episodes on Tuor and the Fall of Gondolin, we go beyond The Silmarillion into Tolkien's Unfinished Tales to tell the story the way it was meant to be told. The son of Huor and Rían survives capture, thraldom, and life as an outlaw to follow the footstep of doom, and soon finds himself face-to-face with Ulmo, the Lord of Waters. Tuor is offered a quest to find Gondolin and bring a message of warning from Ulmo, in fulfillment of a plan laid centuries ago. Also, answers to a listener question about Elven sleeping habits reveal gaps in both Shawn's research… and his knowledge of Star Trek.
May 21, 2017
040 - He's Dead, Gem
In Chapter 22 of The Silmarillion, Húrin is released from Angband to finish his son’s work of destroying everything he touches, and his visit to Thingol starts a chain reaction leading to war between Doriath and the Dwarves of Nogrod. As Menegroth falls, the Silmaril comes through the hands of Beren and Lúthien to their son Dior, and is noticed by seven guys we haven’t heard from in a while. Plus, a look at Tolkien's explanation of the kinship of Celeborn and Nimloth tells us how to get to Sesame Street.
May 07, 2017
039 - Exit the Warrior
We conclude our trilogy of episodes on Chapter 21 of The Silmarillion, "Of Túrin Turambar." After Glaurung sacks Nargothrond, Morwen pulls a Thingol and ignores Melian's advice. She leaves Doriath, Nienor secretly follows, and the dragon ensnares another child of Húrin. We witness a fateful reunion of brother and sister, and the final showdown between hero and dragon. We close the sad tale with a discussion of fate, free will, pity and mean, mean pride in a marathon podcast that challenges popular opinions about Tolkien's tragic hero... and the stamina of your hosts.
Apr 23, 2017
038 - I Will Choose Free Will
We continue our trilogy of episodes on Chapter 21 of The Silmarillion and Tolkien’s tragic hero Túrin Turambar. Túrin comes to Nargothrond with Gwindor, then quickly surpasses his friend in the favor of the king and the love of the king’s daughter. Túrin’s military advice brings early victory, but his deeds soon draw the attention of Morgoth, who responds with a massive army led by the dragon Glaurung. We begin examining Túrin’s choices, tally up his many name changes, and earn the wrath of Hugo Weaving fans everywhere.
Apr 09, 2017
037 - No Man's Land: An Interview with Simon Tolkien
Alan and Shawn are thrilled to welcome Simon Tolkien, novelist and grandson of J.R.R. Tolkien, to The Prancing Pony Podcast! Simon's new novel No Man's Land tells the story of a young man's journey from a class-divided coal mining town to the Battle of the Somme in World War I. We talk about the novel, its vivid depiction of the war, and the experiences of J.R.R. Tolkien that inspired it. Plus, childhood memories of young Simon and his grandfather certain to bring you unbridled geek joy.
Apr 02, 2017
036 - Fly By Night, Away From Here
Alan and Shawn begin yet another trilogy of episodes — this time on The Silmarillion Chapter 21, “Of Túrin Turambar.” The son of Húrin of Dor-lómin is fostered by the King of Doriath, but an awkward dinner party drives him to a life among outlaws. Fleeing from his own fate, he manages to bring disaster wherever he goes, and he’s headed to Nargothrond next. We give an overview of the history of the story Tolkien called the “germ” of his mythology and — surprise! — we quote Monty Python.
Mar 26, 2017
035 - Tolkien Reading Day Special 2017
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 aloud. The theme for 2017 is Poetry and Songs in Tolkien’s Fiction, so Alan and Shawn read their favorite poems and songs from the legendarium, discuss the ways in which Tolkien used poetry to shape his world, and quite possibly make fools of themselves. Again.
Mar 25, 2017
034 - Let It All Out
Shout for joy with Fingon as day breaks on the morning of the Fifth Battle, Nirnaeth Arnoediad, in Chapter 20 of The Silmarillion. Shout for outrage at the treachery and brutality of Morgoth’s forces (these are the things we can do without). Elves and Men will shed Unnumbered Tears after Morgoth’s fears of defeat are turned into victory when the Dark Lord unleashes an army more terrible than any ever before seen in Middle-earth.  We dig deep into Tolkien’s early drafts to answer a listener question about Elvish agriculture, Alan goes out of his way to insult several states, and Shawn ignores a simple request from his co-host and reads what he wants, when he wants.
Mar 12, 2017
033 - The Princess Bride
The last of three episodes on The Silmarillion Chapter 19, “Of Beren and Lúthien.” After putting the Dark Lord down for a nap, the lovers succeed in prying a Silmaril from Morgoth’s iron crown. Beren needs a helping hand to escape from Carcharoth, and Thingol figures out entirely on his own something everyone around him already knew. Our favorite hound meets his doom, and Lúthien is offered a profound choice about the future. We wrap up by discussing the way this romance impacts the rest of Tolkien’s legendarium, and shamelessly crack left-handed jokes.
Feb 26, 2017
032 - Lady and the Tramp
The second of three episodes on The Silmarillion Chapter 19, "Of Beren and Lúthien." Man's best friend has a soft spot for Elf-maidens too, as Huan the hound of Valinor befriends Lúthien and assists in her quest to fetch Beren from the dungeons of Sauron. We find two sons of Fëanor off their leash, bury the bones of a beloved Elf-king, and dig up some of Tolkien's essays and letters to determine the difference between wolves, wargs, and werewolves. As it turns out, not all dogs come from heaven. 
Feb 12, 2017
031 - Guess Who's Coming to Dinner
The first of three episodes on The Silmarillion Chapter 19, "Of Beren and Lúthien." The fugitive son of Barahir comes to Doriath and has a fateful meeting with the daughter of Thingol. Unimpressed with Lúthien's new boyfriend, Thingol sends Beren on an impossible quest to win her hand. We discuss the personal significance of the story Tolkien called "the kernel of the mythology" and compare excerpts from the epic poem The Lay of Leithian. Plus, what do Thingol and Archie Bunker have in common?
Jan 29, 2017
030 - Another One Bites the Dust
In Chapter 18 of The Silmarillion, Morgoth breaks the Siege of Angband with a sneak attack, beginning the Battle of Sudden Flame. As the fires die down, Fingolfin responds by challenging the Dark Lord to single combat. Meanwhile, displaced survivors of the Edain start down paths that will forever intertwine the fates of Men and Elves. Plus, Tolkien's best-known villain moves into the fortress next door with his annoying pets.
Jan 15, 2017
029 - Tolkien's 125th Birthday Special
We celebrate the twelfty-fifth birthday of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien with tributes from our listeners and our own thoughts on what Tolkien has meant to us. We also give the traditional birthday toast to the Professor, and we announce the winners of our giveaway drawings for The Art of the Lord of the Rings and the Facsimile First Edition of The Hobbit.
Jan 03, 2017
028 - Father of the Century: a PPP Christmas Special
Alan and Shawn call for a Christmas truce on the Beleriand battlefront to enjoy Tolkien’s letters from Father Christmas to his children John, Michael, Christopher, and Priscilla. Not content to write about just toys and reindeer, Tolkien filled his letters with the charming misadventures of a host of North Pole residents, including elves, goblins, and a trickster bear with poor spelling. You’ll never feel good about your parenting skills again.
Dec 23, 2016
027 - Go West, Young Edain
Men arrive in Beleriand in Chapter 17 of The Silmarillion, and Middle-earth will never be the same. The Elves' reaction to the newcomers varies, but Morgoth's goal is clear: to keep the two races from forming an alliance. We introduce the Three Houses of the Edain, discuss one of Tolkien's great mythological puns, and expose the terrible manners of string instruments.
Dec 18, 2016
026 - You're The One That I Want
In Chapter 16 of The Silmarillion, Aredhel of Gondolin shacks up with the Dark Elf Eöl and bears a son whose coming may spell doom for the last hope of the Noldor. We revisit Elvish marriage customs and answer a question about rejected lovers in Tolkien's world. Plus, Alan completely forgets how to tell time.
Dec 04, 2016
025 - Watch Your Language
In Chapter 15 of The Silmarillion, Turgon heeds Ulmo's warning and begins the construction of the hidden city of Gondolin. The truth finally comes out about why the Noldor returned to Beleriand, and Thingol is not pleased. Plus a special announcement about our Tolkien's 125th Birthday Giveaway, and tips for goodlier speaking from a teenage Tolkien.
Nov 20, 2016
024 - Territories
It’s a small world, after all. Take a trip around the map with Alan and Shawn in Chapter 14 of The Silmarillion, Tolkien’s extensive description of the geography and realms of the Elves in Beleriand. Also, we receive a lesson in Dwarvish pronunciation from a listener and get up close and personal with a personal pronoun. And what’s that voice in the distance? Sounds like a very deep woodwind instrument.
Nov 06, 2016
023 - Distant Early Warning
A great feast is held in the conclusion of Chapter 13 of The Silmarillion, but not all is well in Beleriand, and two Elf-princes receive important messages about taking action before it’s too late. The Noldor successfully place Angband under a siege that will last for centuries, but Morgoth has a new secret weapon in development. A question from Barliman’s Bag gives us a chance to revisit Fëanor - and Tolkien’s own thoughts about the character - one last time, and we stretch the limits of pop culture reference.
Oct 23, 2016
022 - Subdivisions
In Chapter 13 of The Silmarillion, Fëanor's host arrives in Middle-earth shortly before Fingolfin's, leading to an awkward family reunion that just gets more awkward when somebody calls Uncle Thingol. Fëanor's dream of revenge goes up in flames, and we tally up his good-or-evil score including Tolkien's own thoughts from his letters. We also read the inspiring story of Fingon and Maedhros, and have way too much fun with the new toy in Alan's studio.
Oct 09, 2016
021 - New World, Man
In Chapter 12 of The Silmarillion, the Second Children of Ilúvatar - the Atani, or Men - awake, and we quickly learn precisely what the Elves think of them. We revisit the differences that Tolkien created between Elves and Men in both life and death, along with the ominous portent this new race holds for the Firstborn. Plus, the monotony of Manwë’s wardrobe.
Sep 25, 2016
020 - Tolkien's Secret Vice: An Interview with Dimitra Fimi and Andrew Higgins
Alan and Shawn welcome Dr. Dimitra Fimi and Dr. Andrew Higgins as the first guests to The Prancing Pony Podcast! They are the editors of the new critical edition of Tolkien’s A Secret Vice. We turn the word-nerdery up to 11 to talk about Tolkien’s approach to language invention and the lasting impact his work had on the Middle-earth legendarium and the fantasy genre itself. Our inner geeks get the vicarious thrill of handling manuscripts written in the Professor’s own hand.
Sep 18, 2016
019 - How to Get the Celestial Body You Want
In Chapter 11 of The Silmarillion, the Valar put forth their power to help the Trees bear one last fruit and flower, and then place them in the sky as celestial lights to illuminate all of Arda: the Sun and Moon. We also delve into some of Tolkien’s own concerns about his astronomical myth. Finally, the Valar go shopping for a home security system, but instead opt for a really, really big wall.
Sep 11, 2016
018 - Menegroth: Love It or List It
Returning to Middle-earth from Aman, we cover thousands of years in just a few pages in Chapter 10 of The Silmarillion, "Of the Sindar." The remnant of the Teleri in Beleriand ruled by Thingol and Melian befriend the Dwarves and delve underground to build the fairest dwelling this side of the Sea. But soon Morgoth's beasts and Orcs move in next door, and the neighborhood goes downhill quickly. Plus, Elvish beauty secrets and a surprise visit from an old friend.
Aug 28, 2016
017 - ...Don't You Come Back
In the second half of Chapter 9 of The Silmarillion, “Of the Flight of the Noldor”, the exiles continue down the road to certain doom, spurred on by Fëanor’s oath. We witness the terrible Kinslaying at Alqualondë, hear what Mandos has to say about that, and see the straw that broke Fingolfin’s back. Also, we date ourselves terribly with some appropriate music references.
Aug 14, 2016
016 - Hit the Road, Jack...
In the first half of Chapter 9 of The Silmarillion, “Of the Flight of the Noldor”, Melkor and Ungoliant leave the dead Trees behind them and continue their crime spree in Formenos. Fëanor goes full-emo and rallies the Noldor to pursue his Black Foe back to Middle-earth, swearing a terrible oath in the process. We revisit Míriel in Mandos, and also discuss how a Silmaril is like a bite of ribeye.
Jul 31, 2016
015 - Along Came a Spider
Doom falls on Valinor in Chapter 8 of The Silmarillion. Manwë hosts a feast to reconcile the estranged sons of Finwë, but Melkor chooses that moment to get his revenge with a little help from the mother of all evil spiders (literally), Ungoliant. We bring back the 'Tolkien Fun Facts' segment with a young Professor's trek through the Swiss Alps, and wonder about Valarin bug spray.
Jul 17, 2016
014 - Trouble in Paradise
In Chapter 7 of The Silmarillion, Fëanor crafts the most renowned jewels in the history of Middle-earth - the Silmarils - and conflict is immediately kindled between the sons of Finwë while Melkor stokes the fire. Meanwhile, a listener question about the crafting of weapons leads Alan and Shawn down a nerdy pop culture reference path from which there is no turning back.
Jul 01, 2016
013 - The Blame Game
In Chapter 6 of The Silmarillion, Míriel chooses death over the labor of living, so Finwë remarries to the displeasure of his eldest son Fëanor (and half the Valar). Amid the strife in Finwë's house, Melkor is granted parole and begins to gain influence in Valinor. But Fëanor is a spirit so fiery, not even Melkor can sway him. Cue the foreboding music.
Jun 18, 2016
012 - All in the Family
In Chapters 4 and 5 of The Silmarillion, one Telerin lord settles down with a lady way out of his league while the rest of the Eldar migrate across the Great Sea to Aman. We see the founding of the great cities of Eldamar - Tirion upon Túna and Alqualondë - and meet the family of Finwë, King of the Noldor. And Ulmo actually does what the Valar tell him to, until he doesn't.
Jun 05, 2016
011 - Elves and All! Hooray!
In Chapter 3 of The Silmarillion, we take a trip to Cuiviénen for the awakening of the Firstborn Children of Ilúvatar - the Quendi or Elves. Along the way we discuss the kindling of the stars, the origin of the Orcs, and the capture of Melkor. We also raise the bar on nerdy pop culture references from The Princess Bride all the way up to Get Smart.
May 22, 2016
010 - It Is A Gift
In this special spoiler-filled episode, we delve into Tolkien's letters and The History of Middle-earth to examine Tolkien's concept of mortality as "the gift of the One to Men." We discuss the fates of Elves and Men and how they illustrate a central theme in the legendarium, and demonstrate that anything in life can be improved with a reference to The Princess Bride.
May 07, 2016
009 - The Odd Couple
In Chapter 2 of The Silmarillion, Aulë and Yavanna demonstrate the principle of “opposites attract” even among the Valar, we witness the power of humility, and learn the origins of some of Middle-earth's most mysterious creatures: Dwarves, Ents, and Eagles. We also speculate about the materials Aulë uses to build his own couch to sleep on when Yavanna goes to bed angry.
Apr 24, 2016
008 - And So It Begins
Finally reaching Chapter 1 of the Quenta Silmarillion, we behold an Arda too perfect to last, offer a brief geography lesson, and shamelessly poke fun at as many Valar as possible before stopping to admire the beauty of the Two Trees of Valinor. Also, we almost answer a question about death.
Apr 10, 2016
007 - The Powers of Arda
In the second part of The Silmarillion we laugh with Tulkas, cry with Nienna, gaze on the starlit face of Varda and meet the rest of the Valar and Maiar who entered into the world at its beginning. We also answer the age-old question: which of the Valar would be the most fun at parties?
Mar 27, 2016
006 - Tolkien Reading Day Special 2016
Happy Tolkien Reading Day!  On March 25 every year - the date of the fall of Barad-dûr - Tolkien lovers worldwide celebrate by reading and promoting the Professor's life and work. For this special, Alan and Shawn read and discuss favorite passages related to this year's theme of Life, Death, and Immortality, and indulge in a little inter-fandom rivalry.
Mar 25, 2016
005 - The Music of the Ainur
Reunited in the common-room and finally beginning their discussion of The Silmarillion, Alan and Shawn tackle nothing less than the creation of the universe, check out Ilúvatar’s playlist, observe a cosmic toddler tantrum, and learn what SPBMI means.
Mar 13, 2016
004 - The Great War
This time, Alan flies solo over the battlefields of World War I and discusses both the explicit and the implied influences that the Great War had on Tolkien’s writings, while Shawn is safely away in the officers' club in Edoras with a refreshing drink.
Mar 10, 2016
003 - The Origins of Quenya and Sindarin
Shawn takes a solo look at the real-world linguistic inspirations that shaped Tolkien's invented Elvish languages, Quenya and Sindarin, while Alan is away doing whatever a Man of the West does on his day off.
Mar 06, 2016
002 - The Myth-lover
We continue our introduction to J. R. R. Tolkien's ideas on fantasy and myth with a look at his short poem dedicated to C. S. Lewis, "Mythopoeia" - a thematic companion piece to "On Fairy-Stories". Also, polar bears.
Feb 28, 2016
001 - In Defense of Fantasy
In the first episode, get to know your hosts, Alan and Shawn, and learn about why we started The Prancing Pony Podcast.  We also discuss favorite moments from the life of J.R.R. Tolkien as told in Humphrey Carpenter's biography, and introduce Tolkien's ideas about the nature and purpose of fantasy as described in his famous essay "On Fairy-Stories".
Feb 22, 2016