As they explore the work of J. R. R. Tolkien, hosts Alan Sisto and Shawn E. Marchese welcome readers of The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, and the other works in the Middle-earth legendarium to tune in as they discuss favorite passages from the books and films that started the worldwide fantasy phenomenon.
Alan and Shawn engage in plenty of in-depth study of Tolkien's books, but with a healthy dose of self-effacing humor, pop-culture references, and bad puns. These are the two guys you'd want to hang out with at a pub and talk Tolkien with.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
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.
A most excellent podcast. I reccomend to any Tolkien fan, but especially those who grew up on 70s-80s references. Give it the old Prancy Pony Podcast treatment.
Life saving listening
I only started listening Sept 2021. An avid life-long reader, I had stopped reading several years ago- but now following cataract surgery, I’m delighted to be able to read again. Episode 1 had me transfixed. Wonderful to hear from 2 guys who love Tolkien as much as I do. Kept my sanity until my eyes fixed & I can once again immerse myself in great literature I’m hooked. I’m up to ep 174- and will take a Christmas break to read thru Tolkien books again.
This pod cast is sooo good especially if you are just getting into the Silmarillion. I recommend it to everyone