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The Prancing Pony Podcast

The Prancing Pony Podcast

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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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The Tolkien Experience Podcast

Sara Brown and Luke Shelton

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Since 2018, the Tolkien Experience Project has been collecting stories from Tolkien scholars and fans around the world. Now, we have partnered with The Prancing Pony Podcast and Dr. Sara Brown to create the Tolkien Experience Podcast — an attempt to bring the fan and scholarly communities together around our shared passion: the works of J.R.R. Tolkien! Each episode, Luke and Sara ask a notable scholar or member of the fan community to share their responses to the original Tolkien Experience ...
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It’s time for yet another party of special magnificence as The Prancing Pony Podcast releases its third highlight episode: it’s almost time for our vinyl box set and reunion tour. Join The Man of the West and The Lord of the Mark as they play listener-selected moments from the last eleventy-one episodes! From our visit to the butt store to the Witc…
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No admittance between sundown and sunrise; except for Shawn, he can come and go as he pleases. Join The Man of the West as he welcomes back The Lord of the Mark as Frodo and friends return to a much-changed Shire in the first of five episodes on The Scouring of the Shire. Merry calls out a fellow Bucklander, Sam recognizes an old friend, and the ho…
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Tom talks in trochaic tetrameter today, triggering a trend. Join The Man of the West and The Sage of the South in his last episode (this season) as we answer listener questions in our 27th Questions After Nightfall! From popular misconceptions about Tolkien to keeping Gandalf on-task, from the nature of hope to the nature of Gothmog, our listeners …
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Dark shapes and dreadful things are terrifying Barliman; James and Alan will try not to make it any worse. Join The Man of the West and The Sage of the South as the hobbits conclude their visit to Bree in the final episode on Homeward Bound. Barliman is deeply confused about this whole king thing, the hobbits wonder exactly what Barliman means by “…
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Not all wounds can be healed, and not all episode descriptions can be clever. Join The Man of the West and The Sage of the South as we accompany Gandalf and the hobbits on their journey home from Rivendell in the first of our two episodes on Homeward Bound. Frodo provides an accounting of his wounds, Nob’s grammar skills nearly cause a tragedy, and…
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Wormtongue wishes he could leave Saruman; James is stuck with Alan for a few more episodes: make of that what you will. Join The Man of the West and The Sage of the South as we get to Rivendell in time for a party in the last of our three episodes on Many Partings. Saruman offers some parting words to the hobbits; the Keepers of the Rings offer tot…
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Legolas is at a loss for words after visiting Aglarond with Gimli; Alan is at a loss for words after… well, never, really. Join The Man of the West and The Sage of the South as The Fellowship of the Ring head out on their farewell tour in our second of three episodes on Many Partings. Treebeard speaks his mind about orcs, gives excuses about Saruma…
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Gimli offers to speedily fetch his axe, while James offers to speedily fetch his microphone. Join The Man of the West in welcoming back The Sage of the South as Théoden is laid to rest in our first of three episodes on Many Partings. Arwen offers Frodo a lovely parting gift, Aragorn gifts the Grey Wood to the Drúadan, and two kings struggle with gi…
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The reign of Aragorn Elessar begins, as the reign of Sara ends - quite possibly with her sailing off on a ship filled with cats. Join The Man of the West and the Shield-maiden of Rohan as Gandalf and the new king go mountain-climbing in our last episode on The Steward and the King. Frodo tries to be patient, Aragorn looks for a sign, and Arwen arri…
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It’s the moment we’ve all been waiting for: The Return of… Ioreth. Join The Man of the West and The Shield-maiden of Rohan as Faramir tenders his resignation in our third episode on The Steward and the King. Ioreth educates her kinswoman, Faramir uses his Ask the Audience lifeline, and Aragorn gives Beregond a fright. We wonder why Dol Amroth harpe…
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Put your own priorities aside and get ready to do the hard thing as you join us for the PPP’s ninth 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 Service and Sacrifice — and wow, there are lots of great pas…
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The Man of the West welcomes people who fanboy… about Sara, the Shield-maiden of Rohan, as we answer listener questions in our 26th Questions After Nightfall! From Dr. Brown’s TED talk to Alan’s improving sarcasm, from creation mythologies to the frat bros of the Valar, our listeners remind us we can always go lower. Alan guesses wrong, we apply th…
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Éowyn is afraid that Darkness Unescapable is coming; Sara is afraid that Dad-Jokes Unescapable are coming. Join The Man of the West and the Shield-maiden of Rohan to find out which fear is most justified — as if you didn’t already know. Éowyn wears a pretty cloak, Faramir (i.e., Tolkien) shares his Atlantis dream, and the Eagles sing an encore. We …
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The women can tell Éowyn nothing; that’s only because Sara wasn’t there. Join Alan and Sara as Éowyn seeks to avoid yet another cage in our first episode on The Steward and the King. The Warden can’t envision a warrior-healer, Éowyn can’t endure five more minutes in this place, and Faramir can’t imagine another day without her. We talk about restra…
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The minstrel’s voice rises like silver and gold, and all men were hushed; except for The Man of the West who just won’t stop talking. Join Alan and Sara as we find a golden ring that can’t be melted in our second episode on The Field of Cormallen. Frodo and Sam have done the impossible, and that makes them mighty; Aragorn is humble; and Pippin is… …
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The Realm of Sauron is ended, and the realm of Sara has begun. Join The Man of the West as he welcomes back Dr. Sara Brown as we visit the vulcanology lab once more in our first episode on The Field of Cormallen. Sam won’t let Frodo quit just yet, The Host of the West prepares for their imminent demise, and the Eagles play one more show at the Mora…
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Mount Doom threatens to burn the land and boil the sea; Matt threatens more “where there’s a whip” references. Join us as we’re joined by Tom Hillman to talk about his book Pity, Power, and Tolkien’s Ring just in time for said ring to be destroyed in our final episode on the chapter Mount Doom. Sam finally feels pity for Gollum, the Phial of Galadr…
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Frodo understands that when you can’t crawl, you find someone to carry you; Matt understands that when you can’t get a reference, you find someone to explain it to you. Join us as we offer a brief lesson on vulcanology in our third episode on the chapter Mount Doom. Frodo crawls towards a road, Sam wonders how it got there, and an old friend drops …
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Sam naively offers to ‘share the load’ with Frodo, while Matt naively offers to do a few more episodes of the podcast. Join us as Sam goes full Marie Kondo for the last steps of their journey in the chapter Mount Doom. We remember the Host of the West, Sam remembers the oliphaunt, while Frodo is naked in the dark, unable to remember much of anythin…
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Sam decides to trust to luck again, while Alan and Matt decide to back the Gríshnakh-Uglúk 2024 ticket. Join us in examining the virtue of cloaks as we begin the chapter Mount Doom. Sam considers the difficulty of the route, evaluates the remaining supplies, and carries on an inner dialogue about Bywater and Rosie Cotton. We learn what Tolkien thou…
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Sam suggests that Frodo and he should trust to luck, while Alan and Matt suggest they might want to reconsider. Join us as we spot that stinking villain — no, not Fëanor — sniffing around Frodo, as we wrap up the chapter on The Land of Shadow. Sam gives until it hurts, Frodo falls asleep, and they somehow find themselves participating in the 10k Ru…
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Two orcs engage in a spirited debate about Gollum, while two other orcs engage in a spirited debate about… oh, who am I kidding? Alan and Matt never debate. Join us as we discover that orcs prefer tattling on their peers rather than just killing them, as we keep moving deeper into The Land of Shadow. A tracker orc fails to track two very nearby hob…
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Sam insists on drinking first to protect Frodo, while Alan and Matt ruin any chance they have at a couple of bottled water sponsors. Join us for our discovery that Mordor is only mostly dead, as we continue our long and unpleasant way north in The Land of Shadow. We take a closer look at the geography of Mount Doom, while Frodo and Sam take a close…
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Frodo and Sam get out of the predicament in the Tower only to have to head further into Mordor, as Alan and Matt get out of their QAN predicament only to have to… well, do this. Join us as Sam exaggerates the lengths of thorns while we begin our four-part walk through The Land of Shadow. Nazgûl cries just don’t hold the same terror anymore, Shagrat…
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We’re known for our short and concise answers, says The Nerd of the Rings, as he joins The Man of the West just in time to answer listener questions on our 25th Questions After Nightfall! From Ainur bowling leagues to light bulb moments, from Farmer Maggot to our favorite head canon, our listeners keep us on our toes. Matt whiffs on a Firefly refer…
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Frodo declines to acquiesce to Sam’s request to share the burden of the Ring… means ‘no’. Join Alan and Don as Sam becomes Frodo’s personal shopper in the worst clearance sale ever in our final episode on The Tower of Cirith Ungol. Sam forgives Frodo for his Ring-induced thievery allegation; we discuss the origin of orcs (again!); and the Watchers …
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In the middle of his darkest moment, Sam sings; in the middle of this episode, Don and Alan sing. One of these two was a good decision. Join Alan and Don as Sam longs for Frodo, and refuses to say goodbye to the Stars in our third episode on The Tower of Cirith Ungol. Snaga loses a hand and rolls a natural 1; Sam finally finds his beloved Frodo; an…
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Sam finds a way past the Watchers to rescue Frodo, as Don finds a way past Alan’s bad jokes to rescue the episode. Join Alan and Don as Sam continues his search for Frodo in a place absolutely filled with Orcs in our second episode on The Tower of Cirith Ungol. Sam is relieved to find nearly all of the Orcs are dead; we discuss the nature and origi…
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Sam hesitantly takes what he sees as an irrevocable step down into Mordor; Don Marshall hesitantly agrees to do one more chapter with The Man of the West. Jon Alan and Don as Sam forgets his peril and bravely ventures into Mordor to rescue Frodo as we begin Book Six with The Tower of Cirith Ungol. Sam gets his first glimpse at Mount Doom; resists t…
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Frodo has been a prisoner of the Orcs for more than a year in podcast time, but what’s another episode between friends? Before Alan and Don Marshall start our read through of Book VI of The Lord of the Rings, we take a look back at the previous books as we discuss the themes and events of the story so far - maybe with a special eye towards Frodo an…
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The Fëanor piñata takes some more hits as The Man of the West welcomes Don Marshall, the Obscure Lord of the Rings Facts Guy, to the Prancing Pony Podcast just in time to answer some really obscure questions! From Narya’s chain-of-custody to Goldberry growing tired of trochaic tetrameter, our listeners do their best to trip us up. Alan gets choked …
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Join both The Man of the West and the Lord of the Mark as they celebrate the release of their new book by recording a LIVE episode at The Tolkien Society’s 50th Oxonmoot in Oxford! Guests include Kristine Larsen, John Rateliff, Brian Sibley… and 135 of our closest friends! Recommended Reading: include Letters from FC, Fall of Númenor, and The Histo…
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Sauron smells a trap, and sends his lieutenant to open the door and see who’s there; Matt smells a sidebar, and sends Alan to find out more. Join us as the Mouth of Sauron says too much, but doesn’t lose his head, as we conclude The Black Gate Opens — and Season 7 of the PPP! We meet perhaps the scariest steed ever to walk the earth, discuss the ab…
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Some of Aragorn’s followers are told how they might “keep what honor you may”; The Nerd of the Rings returns to the Common Room to keep what honor HE may. Join Matt and Alan as Aragorn heads out to knock on the door of the scariest house on the block as we begin The Black Gate Opens. Merry stays behind to heal as Pippin goes with Beregond to follow…
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Gimli says he’s near the end of their tale; Alan and Shaun aren’t convinced. Join us as we discuss how hard it is to look at your watch when you’re in battle, as we complete The Last Monolog… er, Debate. The Lords of the West conclude they have only a choice of evils; long-term weather forecasting isn’t a thing in Middle-earth; and counting to 7,00…
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Legolas and Gimli reunite with Merry and Pippin, telling them stories about the last few days. Shaun Gunner (not Shawn) reunites with Alan, telling him how much he hates seagulls. Join us as we learn just how wrong everybody’s been about beards as we begin The Last Debate. Legolas and Gimli play SimCity; we read the tragic story of Nimrodel and Amr…
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We have finally had the perfect opportunity to sit down with our good friend Tom Hillman! Longtime friend of the hosts and supporter of Tolkien Experience Tom Hillman is finally on the podcast! Tom was the first person to submit hs Tolkien Experience Project entry, and we thought that the publication of his book later this year gave us the perfect …
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Join Alan and Sara, as we send Sara back to more civilized realms by joining some of our listeners in the Common Room for our latest Q&A episode. We rely on our shelves and our brains - because the latter alone would make for a short episode - as we answer questions about Amazon’s plans for a LotR MMO, why Legolas was sent with the Company when the…
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Hobbits use light words and fear to say too much; we use light words and clearly don’t fear saying too much. Join Alan and Sara, and the many fragrances of athelas, as we conclude our visit to The Houses of Healing. Éowyn gets a delivery of brand-new air, while Merry gets a bunch of bees; Aragorn reveals his sarcastic humor, prompting Merry to get …
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It turns out Aragorn has a LOT of names; it’s good that none of them are Herbert or Alan and Sara would argue about the leading ‘h’ for (h)ours. Join us as Gandalf threatens to show Ioreth the meaning of haste in the second of three episodes on The Houses of Healing. Imrahil wonders why Aragorn has such a vulgar name, but it’s just one of a dozen; …
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Merry and Pippin meet again after Merry’s agelong ascent; Alan and Dr. Sara Brown meet again after Alan climbs some stairs - nowhere near as dramatic. Join us as everyone’s favorite old woman (not named Dennis) talks about plants as we begin our visit to The Houses of Healing. Merry wonders exactly where Pippin plans to take him; Théoden lies in st…
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Alan and KnewBetta roll out the red carpet — and put away the Hawaiian shirts — for Brian Sibley’s return to the Common Room! A prolific and talented writer, Brian is the force behind some of the most beloved adaptations of Tolkien’s work, including the BBC radio adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and Tales from the Perilous Realm, but we’re here…
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You’ve heard of ‘quiet quitting’, right? Well, Denethor clearly wants nothing to do with such a trend. Join Alan and KnewBetta as the steward resigns his position quite loudly indeed, in the second of two episodes on The Pyre of Denethor. Gandalf wants to rule the world; Denethor and logic have parted ways; and, let’s be honest, Pippin would make a…
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Authority is given to you, listener of The Prancing Pony Podcast, to order the hour of your listening! Join Alan and KnewBettaDoBetta as Beregond saves the day, and Faramir, in our first episode on The Pyre of Denethor. Pippin explains — no, there is too much — Pippin sums up the madness of Denethor, leaving Gandalf with an impossible decision; Imr…
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We start our newest season with an interview with a well-established artist: Donato Giancola! Donato has been an avid fan of Tolkien's work for a long time and creates artwork based on Tolkien's world when he gets the chance. Known for his work on Magic the Gathering, modern science fiction and fantasy covers, and a plethora of other venues! You ca…
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Éomer forms a final shield-wall and thinks of songs that will never be sung; Alan and Shawn offer to gladly butcher, uh, sing those songs. Join us as the appearance of black sails thrills the forces of Sauron right up until it doesn’t, on the last of our episodes on The Battle of the Pelennor Fields. We cry at the sudden joyous turn, discuss Rohirr…
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The king is dead, long live the king! Meet was Théoden’s ending; will meat be Alan and Shawn’s ending? Join us as Éomer receives an unexpected promotion in our second episode on The Battle of the Pelennor Fields. We learn about Merry’s blade, Éomer’s fey mood, and Imrahil’s shiny armor, while we speculate if Gandalf might’ve managed a modicum of mi…
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The Witch-king arrives on the battlefield; Alan and Shawn also arrive, presumably with less stink. Join us as we finally arrive at the moment that we’ve been waiting for for more than seven years as we begin The Battle of the Pelennor Fields! Merry vomits from terror, the Witch-king mansplains the prophecy to Éowyn, and she stabs him in his invisib…
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It always comes back to Rush, at least when The Lord of the Mark returns! Join Alan, and a few of our listeners, as we celebrate Shawn’s return to the common-room with our latest Q&A episode, this time with more Star Trek than Shawn knows what to do with. We answer questions about scary book scenes, Melkor’s role in the Music, and the real meaning …
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Now is the hour come… for us to read one of our favorite passages in all of The Lord of the Rings! Need brooks no delay, so join Alan and Marcel now as the time has come for Théoden and Rohan to ride to the rescue of Minas Tirith in the second half of The Ride of the Rohirrim! The wind is changing for the better, Théoden gives the best pre-game spe…
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