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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 discu ...
 
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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 …
 
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 disco…
 
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 d…
 
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 courag…
 
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 Valin…
 
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, …
 
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 w…
 
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 migh…
 
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 Tolkie…
 
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…
 
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 Question…
 
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,…
 
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 …
 
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 - an…
 
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 s…
 
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 muc…
 
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, a…
 
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, f…
 
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 r…
 
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 se…
 
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 Shelo…
 
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 bro…
 
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 …
 
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 numb…
 
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. …
 
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 watc…
 
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…
 
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 discus…
 
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 …
 
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 TheOneRing.net 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 …
 
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 …
 
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…
 
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 charac…
 
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 g…
 
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 sl…
 
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 …
 
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 halfli…
 
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.…
 
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 h…
 
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 wheth…
 
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 …
 
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 a…
 
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 …
 
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 hi…
 
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, inclu…
 
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 F…
 
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 maki…
 
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 h…
 
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 Ho…
 
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 F…
 
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