Thursday, June 30, 2016

Peter Hollens- Misty Mountains


Wonderful cover of the Misty Mountains song from The Hobbit.  A must-watch for any Hobbit fan!

Tuesday, June 28, 2016

Top 10 Intriguing Characters

There's a lot left unsaid in The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit, and The Silmarillion.  After all, there are upwards of 500 characters mentioned by name and there just isn't enough time to go into the backstory of all those characters.  That's not going to stop fans, however, from wondering just who--or what--they really are.

This list is based of my personal interest as well as the collective discussion surrounding the characters from the whole LOTR fan community.

10. Feanor

This one may be a bit obvious.  There is not much mystery surrounding Feanor--there is, after all, an entire chapter devoted to his backstory in The Silmarillion--but what makes him so intriguing is the controversy.  There is a lot of debate among fans about Feanor; some think that he was in the right since he was the only one brave enough to take on Morgoth, others think he is a complete madman who threw himself and the other Elves into a horrible place which and swore a terrible Oath which caused thousands of deaths.

And still there are others, like me, who are on both sides, but the balance is a teetery one.  What makes him so intriguing is that every time you read about him, there is a danger of slipping into thinking he is a complete menace but an equally real danger of being too easy on him.

Ultimately, Feanor's story is a tragic and complex one of misunderstanding, jealousy, and greed.  There is much discussion revolving around his childhood (see number 8) and whether or not Feanor himself is to blame for his actions.



9. Gollum
There is really no literary character like Gollum.  Tolkien invents so many original characters, but Gollum seems like he was pulled out of the blue.  Gollum is both mysterious and intriguing.  We know little enough about his bringing up, but I am almost sure that he was one of the Riverfolk.  Tolkien, however, leaves enough ambiguity so that you're never really sure where he's exactly from.  Gandalf does go into quite a lengthy discussion about Gollum in The Fellowship about Gollum which, when combined with the information about the Riverfolk in the prologue makes it seem like Gollum was one of the Riverfolk.  But, in classic Tolkien style, you can never know for sure.

So Gollum is mysterious--a constant source of tension throughout The Lord of the Rings--but he is also intriguing.  Constant studies have been done and multitudes of essays written all about Gollum and his dynamism.  Even characters within The Lord of the Rings find him both mysterious and controversial--Sam and Frodo certainly have distinct opinions about the character.


8. Finwe

Speaking of characters who are controversial in their own world, Finwe generated a lot of talk in his own time.  First things first; Finwe is a very intriguing character because he was one of the original Elves to wake alongside Cuivienen.  But the Elves around him even debate some of his decisions, namely his choice to remarry after Miriel departed in spirit from her body.  Feanor was very upset that he would do that, and other Elves think that that decision possibly affected Feanor in  a bad way causing him to be overly possessive and jealous.  Others, however, praise the decision because without it Fingolfin and Finarfin as well as all of their noble kin would never have been.


7. Maedhros/Maglor


Of all the Sons of Feanor, Maedhros and Maglor are my hands-down favorites.  If anyone ever says Tolkien writes black-and-white characters, please direct them to these two who are anything but black and white.  They are two people who are good deep down but who are caught in terrible circumstances and forced to do things they don't want to do. 

I've always wondered what they were like outside of their Oath--what were their personalities like?  Did they really like all the war or were they more of a Faramir-type-sensitive person?  What was going through their heads as they held the Silmarils?  Did they make it to the Halls of Mandos?  Were they forgiven?
Maglor and Maedhros with Elrond and Elros

6. Maeglin

Maeglin is another example of a non-black-and-white character.  He had a rough childhood--his father held him and his mother prisoner, practically, by forbidding them to go anywhere.  His father then tried to kill him but accidentally killed Maeglin's mother instead.  He also had a strange attraction to his cousin (who thought he was twisted and sick) which could not have been easy to handle.  Eventually, it led him to the most infamous betrayal in all the Eldar Days.

One feels badly for Maeglin because most everyone can feel some sympathy towards him--a victim of circumstances, set up to fail.  Most people feel for him or can relate to his unrequited love and the pain it must have caused him.  But, on the flip side, by the end of the story you can't feel too bad for him.  After all, he did cause the downfall of Gondolin out of his greed and lust.  There is still that conflict of feelings, however, which makes him an interesting character to read about.


5. Turin

Speaking of conflicted feelings, Turin is maybe the character who frustrates me the most.  He does countless proud and stupid things, but I  have high hopes for him.  He could have been so successful and done so many good things if he hadn't made such bad choices.  He had high potential, but he threw it all away.  There is also the added question of whether it was mostly Turin's fault or if fate was more to blame.  This makes examining his story very interesting and Turin himself one of the most intriguing characters.  When I read the story of Turin, I laugh, I cry, I throw my book at the wall in anger, but most of all, I try to learn more about one of Middle-earth's most compelling characters.


4. Eol

There is barely any origin story for this mysterious Elf who goes along, doing his own his own thing.  His character is very mysterious because we don't know much about him.  But he is also interesting in general because he diverges so much from the Elven norm.  Not many other Elves shun the light like he does--actually none, as far as I know--and no one does evil things like him unprovoked by Morgoth.  How did he get this way?  The world might never know, which makes him even more intriguing.


3. Beorn

What is Beorn?  Gandalf gives a feeble attempt to explain that Beorn is one of the bears of the north--a skin changer--but because The Hobbit did not have the developed backstory like The Silmarillion or The Lord of the Rings, he is really ambiguous.  In addition to the fact we only vaguely only know what Beorn is, he also does some pretty intriguing things.  He actually delights in killing things and is a pretty vicious fellow.  It would be interesting to examine further whether Beorn is in the right with his violent lifestyle.





2. The Blue Wizards

There are millions of fan theories surrounding the Blue Wizards.  I've often wondered why Tolkien would even include them if they turn out to be irrelevant in the long run.  We know they went into the East and possibly that they turned to evil and started cults of magic on their own.  Did Tolkien mean for this to link up with real world history and somehow be a sort of origin story for some Eastern Astrology or other practices?  That is very unclear, and there is little--if any--evidence to support this.  It looks like the Blue Wizards will remain undefined and open to interpretations and fan theories.



1. Tom Bombadil

This is the crème de la crème when it comes to ambiguous and mysterious.  What in Arda is Tom?  A Vala?  Eru himself?  A random Man gone strange?  There is literally no background provided for this mysterious character or why he has any of the strange powers he has.  Why is he so able to resist the lure of the Ring?  Why can he command nature?  Why?  Who?  What?  None of these questions are answered save by some fan theories.

The bottom line?  Tolkien is a master of giving us little tastes but leaving the rest up to us.  Just like you can never know everything there is to know in real history and how there are always going to be some mysteries and things lost in translation, Tolkien leaves a few things up to  us to make the story that much more intriguing.  What character do you have a fan theory about?  What character do you find most interesting?

Monday, June 27, 2016

Wishful Thinking

In which I read way too far into the text and see things that aren't actually there...*shrugs*


Okay here goes.

I have been reading The Unfinished Tales again (in record slow time--I thought I would have more time to read in the summer...)


Anyway, I'm reading the extended edition of the story of Turin Turambar which includes one of my favorite unrequited-love-efforts, that of Nellas the Elf who watches over Turin.  I've always completely shipped the two even more than Turin and Finduilas, but this time reading through I found something particularly interesting.

Okay the relevant passages:
"In the years of his childhood in the kingdom of Doriath Turin was watched over by Melian, though he saw her seldom. But there was a maiden named Nellas, who lived in the woods; and at Melian's bidding she would follow Turin if he strayed in the forest, and often she met him there, as it were by chance.  From her Turin learned much concerning the ways and the wild things of Doriath, and she taught him to speak the Sindarin tongue after the manner of the ancient realm, older and more courteous, and richer in beautiful words.  Thus for a little while his mood was lightened until he fell again under shadow and that friendship passed like morning of spring.  For Nellas did not go to Menegroth, and was unwilling ever to walk under roofs of stone; so that Turin's boyhood passed and he turned his thoughts to the deeds of men, he saw her less and less often, and at last called for her no more.  But she watched over him still, though now she remained hidden."

First of all, obviously Nellas has a thing for Turin--she keeps watching over him and teaches him and they clearly spend quality time together.  At this point it could be platonic, but the next section seals the Nellas/Turin ship:
"Then Beleg went out, and led in by the hand the maiden Nellas, who dwelt in the woods, and came never to Menegroth; and she was afraid, both for the great pillared hall and the roof of stone, and for the company of many eyes that watched her,.  And when Thingol bade her speak, she said; 'Lord, I was sitting in a tree;' but then she faltered in awe of the King, and could say no more.  At that the King smiled, and said: 'Others have done this also, but have felt no need to tell me of it.'  'Others indeed,' said she, taking courage from his smile.  'Even Luthien!  And of her I was thinking that morning, and of Beren the Man.'  To that Thingol said nothing, and he smiled no longer, but waited until Nellas should speak again.  'For Turin reminded me of Beren,' she said at last.  'They are akin, I am told, and their kinship can be seen by some: by some that look close.'
We all know what it means when an Elf compares a Man to Beren--that was certainly no accident.


But notice also how Beleg led her in by the hand...
'You bring graver news to my ear than seemed likely.  Take heed now to all that you say; for this is a court of doom.'  'So Beleg has told me,' she answered, 'and only for that have I dared to come here, so that Turin shall not be ill judged.  He is valiant, but he is merciful.'...But when the doom was pronounced, suddenly Nellas wept.  'Where can he be found?' she said.  'He has left our land and the world is wide.' 'He shall be sought,' said Thingol.  Then he rose, and Beleg led Nellas forth from Menegroth; and he said to her: 'Do not weep; for if Turin lives or walks still abroad, I shall find him, though all others fail.'
...obviously Beleg wanted to rescue Turin because they're fast friends, but perhaps he had other reasons as well, particularly Nellas' concern?

'The Elf-maiden who you named: I owe her well or her timeless; yet I cannot recall her.  Why did she watch my ways?'   
Then Beleg looked strangely at him.  'Why indeed?' he said.  'Turin, have you lived always with your heart and half your mind far away?  You walked with Nellas in the woods of Doriath when you were a boy.'
'That was long ago,' said Turin.  'Or so my childhood now seems, and a mist is over it--save only the memory of my father's house in Dor-lomin.  But why should I have walked with an Elf-maiden?'
'To learn what she could teach, maybe,' said Beleg.  'Alas, child of Men!  There are other griefs in Middle-earth than yours, and wounds made by no weapons.  Indeed, I begin to think that Elves and Men should not meet or meddle.'
Turin said nothing, but looked long in Beleg's face, as if he would read in it the riddle of his words.  But Nellas of Doriath never saw him again, and his shadow passed from her.'" 
 

Okay this is the scene.  First of all, can we all acknowledge Beleg's line "have you always lived with your heart and half your mind far away?" is beautiful and perfectly quotable--that is my new saying.  But Beleg seems genuinely offended that Turin would forget Nellas.  Plus Nellas made a conscious effort to be inconspicuous when following Turin, yet Beleg still noticed her.

Beleg's line in that second to last paragraph is actually really touching--it could be read like he felt bad for Nellas, but also it could be seen like Beleg himself was upset.

DISCLAIMER--
The following is barely backed up by any textual evidence.  I take tiny little lines, stretch them out of proportion and probably misread a lot of things so that it fits the perfect little love triangle I have been trying to create.  Suspend your disbelief for the following summary of the love triangle.


As we've already established, Nellas loves Turin.  That is actually supported strongly by the text and carefully insinuated.  But, Beleg cares strongly for Nellas, and Nellas regards him as a close friend; he is the only one she confides in when she sees Turin threatened in the woods and she trusts him enough to lead her into under a stone roof.  Turin is oblivious to everything.  Beleg is frustrated because he knows that Turin hurts Nellas by ignoring her and it hurts even more because Nellas doesn't notice that Beleg has feelings.

There is the far fetched love triangle.  I've searched through the text diligently and you can't prove me wrong!

And don't try to tell me that Beleg did everything not for Nellas but for Turin--you can't prove he wasn't thinking of her!

Someone with the Silmarillion writing skills (I lack) please--I need a fanfiction for this love triangle!

I can come up with any theory I want!
Don't try and tell me it's unlikely!

Sunday, June 26, 2016

My Favorite LOTR Conspiracy Theory

There are a lot of crazy theories out there some better researched than others.  My favorite conspiracy theory surrounding LOTR that I've come upon is:

I've always found it fairly odd all the attention given to the manner of Frodo's parents' deaths in The Fellowship of the Ring book; at first glance, it's not really important how they died.  The Hobbits at the Ivy Bush Inn speak about it for awhile however in the first chapter:
"'I've heard they went on the water after dinner in the moonlight,' said Old Noakes; 'and it was Drogo's weight as sunk the boat.' 'And I heard she pushed him in, and he pulled her in after him.' said Sandyman, the Hobbiton miller. 'You shouldn't listen to all you hear, Sandyman.' said the gaffer, who did not much like the miller. 'There isn't no call to go talking of pushing and pulling. Boats are quite tricky enough for those that sit still without looking further for the cause of trouble.'"
Not only is a lot of (seemingly) undue attention given to the matter, but there is a high level of mystery and intrigue surrounding the early deaths.

3 Person on Body of Water at Daytime

First off, we all know that Gollum is capable of murder; he killed his own friend after all, so knocking off two strangers probably would not be too difficult for Gollum.

We also know that very soon after the events of The Hobbit, Gollum began to hunt for the "thief" who took his precious Ring.  The only clues he had were "Baggins" and "Shire", so he probably made is way west.

Since Primula and Drogo (Frodo's parents) were out boating at night, it is possible that Gollum was out and about since he doesn't go out during the day.  Gollum also likes travelling via river since he was of the Riverfolk and as he tracks the Fellowship he floats down the River.  So Gollum floats down the river at night, overhears either Primula or Drogo saying "Baggins" and decides to attack.


Now Gandalf does tell Frodo in The Shadow of the Past that Gollum never made it past the Anduin before he turned south toward Mordor:
"Now we come to it. I think Gollum tried to. He set out and came back westward, as far as the Great River. But then he turned aside. He was not daunted by the distance, I am sure. No, something else drew him away. So my friends think, those that hunted him for me."
 The only way this theory can work is if we decide that Gandalf was lying when he said that.  After all, telling Frodo that Gollum is responsible for his parents' deaths would probably cause the young Hobbit to go into a rage.  Certainly it is unlikely Frodo would be as charitable as he is when he and Gollum meet and we all know that without Frodo's mercy toward Gollum the quest never would have been accomplished.

What do you think?

Saturday, June 25, 2016

Love Triangles

Love triangles are as old as the hills.  We can find them in all different kinds of books from the very contemporary Matched, Twilight, and Hunger Games books to Shakespeare's Romeo and Juliet, even as far back as one of my favorites, Le Mort d'Arthur with Guinever, Arthur, and Lancelot, and even in Tolkien's works.  In this article I'm going to talk about what makes love triangles work and how the ones shown in The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion are successful.

Guinivere, Lancelot, and Arthur

Things to look for in a good love triangle:

1. The romantic interests are very different

Love triangles should reveal a lot about the character doing the choosing and when they finally make their decision, they should have learned about themselves and should understand their wants and needs better.  When the romantic interests are very different, the character change is more obvious.

For example, one romantic interest could be a complete bag in the wind who doesn't want to settle down but who the main character finds intriguing.  The other romantic interest could be the person the main character met at the library who is really consistent and kind.  Throughout the course of the story, the main character could discover that she really wants to settle down and have something stable in her life, and she realizes she really loves the library guy and that her infatuation with bag in the wind guy is just because she is interested and it's not real love.

Does this sound a bit familiar?  That's because a very similar love triangle is found in The Lord of the Rings, but in reverse.  Aragorn is someone a lot of people look up to; he is certainly intriguing and many people want to be like him.  Faramir seems more reserved and practical, but very kind.  Eowyn finally realizes that she just admires Aragorn and does not really love him.  She also realizes that she doesn't want to be in a continuous state of war and wants to have peace and nurture life.  She says in the book that she does not long to be a queen anymore, and Faramir says "that is well, for I am not a king."  They both want the same things in life and make a perfect match.  Now reread the paragraph above and you'll better see the parallels.

It should be noted that it is not just that Eowyn chose Faramir because she could not have Aragorn--for awhile the fact she couldn't have him just debilitated her and she was incapable of loving anyone.  It was only Faramir who could bring her back into the light.


2. There are pros and cons to each character

It is extremely boring to read a one-sided love triangle where one character is obviously right and the main character knows it.  If, however, the main character does not recognize it but we as the readers can, it can create a good kind of suspense where we are rooting for one person and hoping the main character catches on.  But, if both we as the readers and the main character know that one interest is completely perfect, it's going to either be tiresome or frustrating to read about that.

In The Silmarillion, Finduilas, Gwindor, and Turin create a very tragic love triangle.  Finduilas and Gwindor were engaged to be married, before Gwindor was captured, tortured, and mutilated by Morgoth.  When he returns with Turin, Finduilas falls (against her will!) in love with Turin.  She feels awful because both characters have their pros and cons and we as readers are tortured emotionally with her.

Doesn't this Turin look like Mel Gibson?

Gwindor has been at her side consistently and she already promised to marry him; he is kind and they were once in love.  But Turin is new and noble; he has captured her attention with his prowess and nobility.  But Gwindor is forever changed--a twisted thing out of Morgoth's dungeons; Turin is a mortal and pledging herself to him would leave her a widow when his short life is spent, plus he doesn't even know Finduilas loves him.  The decision is like a knife in the heart, or rather, a spear in the neck because Finduilas never tells Turin that she loves him.  When given the choice between his family and Finduilas (turns out the threat against his family was a false one in the end and only Finduilas was in danger), Turin chooses his family not knowing of Finduilas' love, and the Elf ends up getting killed by the Orcs.


3. It has to contribute to the plot

A love triangle which does not contribute to the plot is boring and unnecessary.

In The Silmarillion, Turin and Nienor are married, but Brandir one of Turin's men also loves Nienor.  In the end, Nienor dies and Brandir brings tidings of her death to the people, saying that it is good.  He said it was good because it was revealed that Nienor was actually married to her brother, and it is good that she is free of that now.  Turin returns and hears him say this; he comes very angry and thinks Brandir is saying this because he has always scorned Turin and Nienor's relationship (which Turin obviously doesn't know is incest) and he turns on Brandir and kills him.

When Turin finds out that everything Brandir had said was true, the fact that he killed an innocent man weighs on him even more and is one of the factors which contributes to his suicide.  This is a very subtle love triangle, but a very interesting one.  Brandir had a bad feeling about Turin and Nienor since the beginning and it turns out that he was right and they should not have gotten married.  One wonders what might have happened had Nienor listened to Brandir's warnings and stayed away from Turin and instead married Brandir.  Certainly the story would not be the same at all.


In the story of Beren and Luthien, there is a subtle love triangle involving Daeros, a minstrel of Doriath who also loves Luthien.  His love for her contributes significantly to the plot because it is he that tells Thingol about Beren and Luthien's meetings.  If he hadn't told Thingol about the meetings, Beren never would have been sent out on his quest.  Daeros' betrayal was the catalyst and his motive had to do with the love triangle.

Another love triangle which powers the plot of The Silmarillion is the infamous one of Tuor, Idril, and Maeglin.  Maeglin was jealous of Tuor not only because he had Turgon's favor but also because he had Idril's, something that Maeglin was desperate for.  Hate for Tuor and desire to posses Idril "led him the easier to his treachery, most infamous in all the Elder Days."  If Maeglin had not loved Idril, he would not have betrayed Gondolin and the city would not have fallen.

Maeglin is captured and later caves in to the Orc's requests

4. The reader should be able to feel empathy for all parties involved

This last love triangle is a bit of a stretch, but I'm including it in the list anyway.  It is probably more prevalent in the movies but can also be seen in the book and is that of Aragorn, Arwen, and Elrond.  Obviously Elrond's love for Arwen is not romantic (yuck!) but he still does love her and Arwen eventually has to choose whether she will remain with Aragorn in Middle-earth or whether she will go to the Undying Lands with her father.

You definitely feel bad for Arwen because she is forced to make an extremely hard decision, one she will have to deal with not just for the rest of her life but even for the afterlife.  It must be hard for Aragorn since he loves and respects Elrond and wouldn't want to do anything to hurt him, yet he is also in love with Arwen and she is the only one that he can have as queen.  Probably worst of all, the whole situation is heartbreaking for Elrond since he loses his only daughter and will probably never see her again.  Just the few phrases thrown throughout the Return of the King that mention the parting are enough to bring tears to your eyes.


In summary, the four things I look for in a good love triangle are: different romantic interests; pros and cons for each character; plot driving events triggered by love triangle; and relatable characters readers can feel empathy for.

The Lord of the Rings and The Silmarillion are chock full of wonderful love triangles which fulfill those categories.  What do you look for in a good love triangle?  Which Middle-earth triangle is your favorite?

Friday, June 24, 2016

Lord of the Rings Quotes

"When Mr. Bilbo Baggins of Bag End announced that he would shortly be celebrating his eleventy-first birthday with a party of special magnificence, there was much talk and excitement in Hobbiton." (The Fellowship of the Ring)

party, rubber, colorful

Thursday, June 23, 2016

Book Recommendations for the Fellowship

What book would I recommend to each member of the fellowship?

Merry-
The Chronicles of Narnia.  The characters in The Chronicles of Narnia are snatched from their normal lives in England just like Merry from the Shire and they fight wars to defend their land (Narnia/Middle-earth).  Both the Narnia characters and Merry create close relationships (Aslan/Theoden) and grow a lot throughout the story.


Pippin-
Redwall.  In Redwall, a young mouse named Matthias does his best to become a warrior and defend his abbey from invaders.  At first he is unassuming and young like Pippin at the beginning of The Lord of the Rings, but slowly he turns into a great and wise warrior like Pippin does when he becomes a Guard of the Citadel and later when he defends his homeland, the Shire in the Scouring of the Shire.  I think that Pippin could relate to Matthias and see the he as a Hobbit can do great things too.

Gimli-
Hatchet.  This book is about a boy who is stranded after his plane crashes in the wilderness and has to survive using only his hatchet.  I'm sure Gimli knows a lot of different ways to use his axes, but reading this book may help him along his journeys through the wild and teach him more ways to use the his weapons effectively.

Legolas-
Robin Hood.  I think Legolas would like the bow hunting aspect of the story, and as a prince it might help him understand what his subjects are going through, particularly in the difficult time of transition (for the Elves, as they go into the West, for Robin Hood, the people in financial change).  And who knows?  Maybe Legolas has someone like Maid Marian around but he needs tips from Robin Hood on how to express himself.



Boromir-
Les Miserables.  I think Boromir would be able to relate with Jean Valjean who did something bad but was able to get back on the right track.  I also think he might have sympathy for Marius who is trying to fight for something he believes in, and Denthor reminds me of the Thenardiers who also have problems favoring certain children (Eponine and Azelma/Boromir) over others (Cosette/Faramir).

Sam-
Instead of a book, I would give Sam a subscription to Better Homes and Gardens.  Sam can use all the gardening and landscaping tips to improve his little corner of the Shire and he and Rosie can work on sprucing up their Hobbit hole inside as well.  They must be busy with thirteen children, so it would be nice to have a magazine so they can just flip through and glance at pictures rather than reading a hard hitting novel.


Gandalf-
Catching Fire.  Seems appropriate since he is both the keeper of the Ring of Fire, and his job is to "kindle the hearts" of the people of Middle-earth into doing great things, just like Katniss did in Panem.  I'm guessing a man of his...er...age, is not really the target audience especially with the love triangle and since it is told from the point of view of a young girl, but someone as wise as Gandalf would definitely be able to glean the relevant information.

Frodo-
The Little Engine that Could.  Frodo probably needs a bit of encouragement throughout his journey, remembering that maintaining a positive attitude is half the battle.  Even after his mission is accomplished, it may be important for him to remember this as he goes through the healing process.  I would also recommend that he read some newspaper comics because he probably needs something not-so-serious so he can laugh and smile again.

Aragorn-
The Once and Future King by T.H. White.  Aragorn is a great king, I'm sure, but he could benefit by reading about King Arthur as presented in this, my favorite adaptation.  There is a lot in there about just war and the importance of peace which Aragorn may appreciate after the Great War.  I think he might relate with Arthur who, like him, lived and worked closely with a wizard (Merlin/Gandalf) and also had a challenging romantic relationship (Guinever's adultery and Elrond's stipulations).

Wednesday, June 22, 2016

New Changes


Wondering why I don't have a really long post for you today?  I have a couple excuses.
  1. I was babysitting the nephews today and wow they are a lot to handle
  2. My sister's graduation party is tomorrow and goodness there is a lot of yard work, cooking, and cleaning to do
  3. Catholic Camp is happening all next week (and set up this weekend) so I am bracing myself by trying to get all of next week's stuff done ahead of time
  4. I just put up a ton of posts on the new Book Nook page (I've been working on that for probably a total of four hours just today)
  5. I am about ready to collapse from exhaustion in a few minutes
  6. There is a really intense episode of Robin Hood next up and I need to know how Robin is going to stop the wedding of Gisbourne and Marian!
AAAAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHH!
I hate Gisbourne and definitely ship Marian and Hood...but *angst*
Gisbourne loves her he's just bad at expressing it!  Grrrr...

Richard Armitage why must you cause me such conflict?!
Please...does anyone watch else Robin Hood?  I need consolation... D:

So is that okay?  Have I provided sufficient excuses?  Have a great Thursday everyone :)
And don't forget to read the Book Nook page and listen to the Palantir Podcast from yesterday!

Tuesday, June 21, 2016

The Palantir Podcast

Exciting news, everyone!  Lover of Lembas is now presenting the very first episode of The Palantir Podcast, a monthly podcast focused on creating interesting conversations surrounding The Lord of the Rings and Tolkien in general.  In this episode, my sister Emily and I discuss our favorite characters in a lighthearted and thoughtful manner.

Prepare to hear about some characters who you may be surprised are our favorites, a random digression about Nerdanel courtesy of Emily, and a brief tiff concerning pronunciation.

By the way, the audio is a bit muffled in the beginning but I assure you it gets a lot better throughout the podcast.  Oh and those wheezing sounds are me laughing--it sounds a bit weird over the audio :)

Mobile viewers and those who receive these posts via email may have  hard time seeing the video, so I would recommend listening on a PC.  Sorry for the inconvenience!

Memorable quote from the podcast: "Maybe I'm just too weak minded..."


video


Links:
My Favorite Character post
Sauron vs. Melkor debate
The Hobbit Lifestyle debate


Why "Palantir Podcast"?

As I explain briefly in the podcast, the name was chosen because the Palantiri are used by Sauron, the Numenorians, and some Elves to communicate with people far away.  This podcast communicates with lots of people far away from where we record it just as the Palantiri did.  Look into the Palantir and you will learn much, young Hobbits...mwahahaha (fine, I promise listening to this podcast will not corrupt you like the Palantiri would. ;)  Hope you enjoy!



Suggestions for topics, any tech support you can offer (desperate need!) and general comments you have are very welcome and Emily and I are both eager to receive your feedback.  Cheers, everyone!

Monday, June 20, 2016

Lord of the Rings Quotes

“It's a dangerous business, Frodo, going out your door. You step onto the road, and if you don't keep your feet, there's no knowing where you might be swept off to.”

light, road, landscape

Sunday, June 19, 2016

Turin and Tuor

A compare/contrast treatment of two of the most famous men of the House of Hador


Similarities
  • Both of the house of Hador
  • They are cousins
  • Both have names that are similar to their fathers' (Huor - Tuor/ Hurin - Turin)
  • Great warriors
  • Spend time alone in the wild
  • Raised (at least in part) by Elves (Tuor with the Grey-Elves and Turin in Doriath)
  • Both of their stories involve love (whether reciprocated or not) from Elven princesses
  • Both stories involve the destruction of a kingdom
  • Both travel very far across Beleriand
  • Both witness the death of someone via falling of a tall place (Tuor saw Maeglin plummet to his death, Tuor chased Saeros off a cliff)
  • They both win the high favor of an Elven king as well as the people of the kingdom (Tuor and Turgon in Gondolin, Turin and Orodreth in Nargothrond)
  • Both are contacted by Ulmo (Tuor is spoken to directly in Nevrast, Turin receives Ulmo's messages indirectly from messengers)
  • They both anger someone who is envious of their position (Tuor angers Maeglin who wants the favor of Turgon and Idril's hand, Turin angers Saeros who is jealous that Turin is so close to Thingol)
  • Both of their fathers fight in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad
  • Both tall and swift runners

Differences
  • Tuor has blond hair after the manner of the house of Hador while Turin has dark hair from his mother's side
  • Tuor fights with an axe while Turin fights with a sword
  • Tuor ends up getting married and having a son while Turin is married only briefly before dying
  • Tuor is an orphan but Turin's parents both outlive him
  • Tuor is an only child but Turin had two sisters
  • Tuor brings a message intended to save a kingdom while Turin gives advice to the king which causes it's destruction (Tuor's warning from Ulmo, Turin's refusal to knock down the bridge over the Narog)
  • It is said that Tuor did not die but was counted among the Elves, Turin definitely died via suicide
  • Turin interacted with Dwarves while there is no mention that Tuor ever encountered one
  • Tuor is eight years younger than Turin

I like the two photos above.  The one of Tuor by Jenny Dolfen has bright colors.  Tuor is looking off into the distance, hopeful and curious about what might happen next; the wind is blowing dramatically around him demonstrating that there is something important going on and he is a significant player in the scheme of Beleriand.  

In contrast to that, the painting of Turin by Alan Lee is full of dark colors.  Turin is ready for war, almost paranoid; completely on edge.  If you look closely you can see that his eyes are very pale--he is almost robbed of all ambition, in almost complete despair.  

Both are surveying the land ahead, ready for the next adventure.  Their ventures ended very differently.  Tuor had a happy ending while Turin died in complete despair after an abrupt and tragic catharsis.  One wonders what the lives of Turin and Tuor would have been like if their positions were exchanged.  Would Tuor have been so wrathful when Saeros challenged him?  Would he have exiled himself as Turin did?  On the flip side, would Turin have spent so much time as a thrall of the Easterlings?  Would he have heeded Ulmo's call?  The two are so similar, and yet so different.  What differences and similarities can you pick out?

Saturday, June 18, 2016

The Tauriel and Kili Problem

"They eviscerated the book by making it an action movie for young people aged 15 to 25" -Christopher Tolkien

In this quote Christopher Tolkien was speaking of the original three films.  While I see what he means, I disagree a bit; I am certainly thankful for the original movies because through them I--and many others--came to the books and there were able to grasp the philosophical content and truly come to appreciate the books.  


However, I think this quote of Christopher Tolkien's is more applicable to the recent Hobbit movies in a few respects.

---

Yes I understand the Hobbit movies--like the originals did for me--have spurred others into reading the books.  I personally have multiple friends who have said that they enjoyed the Hobbit movies and then started reading the books.   However, these same friends are the people who complain that the books are too hard and very dry.  

I think this is because the Hobbit movies are geared towards either younger people or just a different audience entirely than the books.  This means that the Hobbit movies are not likely to attract people who in the long run will have a good experience with the books.  This is unlike the original movies which had the same tone at least as the books so that watchers turned readers would not be completely shocked when they made the switch.  This does fulfill Christopher Tolkien's fear that no one will grasp the themes and philosophical content of the books because it will be substituted with the movies (since the books are "too hard").  It is for that reason that I slightly disagree with Professor Tolkien in that first quote which was intended for the original films, but find it highly applicable for the Hobbit films.

This is the common fan base for The Hobbit.I wonder how many of these
kids have gone back to read the booksand gotten the themes out of there.
---

Back to the Hobbit.  I understand that it is not always practical or effective to adapt a book page by page.  I get that.  Certainly that did not happen with The Lord of the Rings, a 1000+ page book compacted into a film a little over 9 hours.  But one thing I absolutely insist on in regards to book-film adaptations is that the film retains the tone and themes of the book.

What are the tone and theme of the Hobbit you ask?  First of all, the tone is very light-hearted, almost comical (a children's book, remember).  
“Go back?" he thought. "No good at all! Go sideways? Impossible! Go forward? Only thing to do! On we go!" So up he got, and trotted along with his little sword held in front of him and one hand feeling the wall, and his heart all of a patter and a pitter.” (The Hobbit 1937)
Notice the key words that are clearly supposed to be whimsical and childlike: "go sideways"; "trotted"; "patter and a pitter", etc.  Compare this to scenes from the Hobbit which are quite frightening for young children.  This is evidenced by the fact that the movie is rated PG-13, and R for the extended edition.



As for the themes, the films practically trampled them in favor of long battle sequences and as much blood and gore as possible.  In the books, importance is placed on Bilbo's dynamism, particularly his change between being a naive Hobbit into a brave and merciful one.  One of these days I should count up the minutes spent with Bilbo learning about his character and compare it to the minutes spent on other things in the films which are not nearly as important--one large instance we will get to in a bit.

---

My point is that the Hobbit books and movies do not have the same themes or tone, and for that reason, I consider the films an unsuccessful adaptation. Certain people might argue that they are interesting to watch on their own, but it still frustrates me that such a beautiful book can be completely sterilized of any inner meaning and just written off as a "fun movie" by so many.  I don't think the fantasy adventure alone was why the Hobbit book was so popular in the first place; it was a combination of the thematic and enchanting tone.

If your goal is to see a fun movie, go watch something else; but leave this story bound to it's themes.  Sometimes with all the changes made to the story I get the feeling that the filmmakers didn't really like the Hobbit book (so they felt the need to change everything) but they kept just a couple things in order to draw in audiences.  It's like book heresy--keeping the things you like but expelling those you find uncomfortable and inconvenient to the point where it's not really the same story anymore.

---

The loss of the theme and tone of the story is embodied by two characters which make me feel sick when they come on screen.  I really don't mean this as an attack on the actors at all, but a critique of their portrayal in the film.  The two characters are:


This is the very embodiment of the book heresy that went on through the adaptation.  First off, this "Kili" who wears dark armor and always looks serious, who is wounded and doesn't even get to the mountain, who makes suggestive jokes in the prisons of the woodland king (more proof this does not capture the childlike tone of the books!) is inimical to the young and untried dwarf who loses the ponies, almost falls into the river in Mirkwood, and wears a blue hood.

"But Nimrodel," some might say, "No one wants to watch a movie about a boring dwarf like the one described in the books!"

And I would say this to you.  The Hobbit has never been out of print.  It is one of the most popular books of our era with fans all over the world.  Somehow, someway, there have been a slew of people who have been willing to read the book even with "a boring dwarf".  Maybe you don't want to read them, but that brings me back to my other point that these films are geared toward the complete wrong audience.  Many film watchers will not end up reading the books, which does end up reducing the story to an action film.

The heresy: the character of Kili is retained, but his fundamental purpose and demeanor is completely changed both externally in appearance and internally in action and words.

And now Tauriel.  Tauriel, Tauriel, Tauriel.

My reaction when Tauriel is on the screen.

Does Tauriel fit the tone of the story?  No, this tale for small children certainly does not involve an impromptu/poorly fleshed-out love story that ends in a tragic death.  Does the Tauriel story line help portray the themes of the story?  No, if anything she detracts from the themes of Bilbo's change and creates a whole new unnecessary drama.

"But Nimrodel," some would say, "We need a character for young girls to look up to, someone they can relate to.  Otherwise they won't like the story!"

False!  I am a fairly young girl (at least I'm pretty sure I am the Tauriel target audience) and I absolutely despise the entire concept.  I love The Lord of the Rings films, and no, Arwen and Eowyn are not my favorite characters.  Aragorn and Sam are.  You film makers sure underestimate what the people want and I know that because (again) the Hobbit books are crazy successful even without this terrible romance element.

Aside from the fact that we don't need Tauriel, it is very upsetting to see her there because it is just proof that the film makers don't care that much about the original tale, they just want to do whatever they can to please their audience and get the biggest box office income they can.  This complete disregard of Tolkien's hard work in favor of fame and money is what Christopher Tolkien meant by "evisceration" and it makes me ill.

---

To sum up this rant, the Hobbit films failed at grasping the tone and theme of the story and therefore I consider them to be poor adaptations.  I agree with Christopher Tolkien when he says that these films have reduced the original works into shallow, "anything-to-please-the-audience" films with complete disregard to Tolkien's work.  The two strongest points of complete heresy and disregard are embodied in Tauriel and Kili.

Oh, and if you're wondering, yes--I am scarred for life from this movie.  It has shown me that adaptations can go terribly, terribly wrong, and I suppose that is why I am so against a Silmarillion movie.  I couldn't bear to watch my favorite story of all time (and something even nearer and dearer to the Tolkiens' hearts) be "eviscerated" and ruined like the Hobbit has been for me.

(Note: My profile has gotten a bit scrambled up so not all the blogs I follow are being displayed.  Sorry to those of you whose blogs are not being shown, I'll try to fix the problem ASAP!)

Thursday, June 16, 2016

New Books!

My mom and I went downtown yesterday for dermatologist appointment, but we had time to stop at a book store which sells gently used books for half the retail price.

Right when I got in the store I was drawn directly to a section of first/rare editions.  Among them were leather-bound versions of Don Quixote and The Canterbury Tales which were absolutely gorgeous.  But since I'm by no means rich, I did not have enough money to spend on them.


Directly across from that was a little glass case just labelled "Tolkien".  Inside were the first three hardcover versions of The History of Middle-earth series, The Middle-earth Atlas, and a few other rare Tolkien books.  I have been searching all over for The History of Middle-earth which I still don't have, but they were, again, to expensive.

So I was a bit crestfallen.  As I went through the rest of the store, however, I found that there was another Tolkien section with cheaper books.  After looking through books with maps, theme analyses, biographical information, and even a beat up copy of The Book of Lost Tales Part I, I finally decided to buy The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien and a paperback version of The Unfinished Tales.

I am so happy to add these to my collection!

Wednesday, June 15, 2016

My Blogging Process

How I Blog

A few questions asked of me concerning how I blog:

  • Do you blog in silence or do you ever listen to something?
I essentially always listen to something while blogging because I've developed a bad habit of needing a bit of white noise always in the background as I work.  A lot of times I listen to The Lord of the Rings Soundtrack and the 25th Anniversary Legend of Zelda Symphony, or whatever piece I'm working on playing on violin which is currently Vivaldi's Concerto No. 24 (for those of you wondering, my sister and I transposed it to be a duet for a viola and violin rather than two cellos, plus we don't have an orchestra backing us up so we had to make some bridge parts).  



Recently though I've been listening to a lot of Audiomachine which my friend introduced me to as well as a lot of older Coldplay songs (my favorite band) and finishing up some podcasts I've fallen behind on (Word on Fire Show, Three Dogs North, Catholic Stuff You Should Know, The Tolkien Professor).


  • How do you come up with ideas for posts?
It is sometimes really hard for me to come up with an idea.  If I can't think of anything or don't have much time, I usually trust Tolkien and post some of his own writing in the form of a quote.  If I'm feeling particularly uninspired I will flip through the books, watch the trailers, or kind of reminisce and usually something will hit me.  Other times I get really sidetracked and look at memes or watch New Catholic Generation videos.

I often turn to The Tolkien Society for ideas because they have lists of essay ideas.  I can always fall back on profiles of actors and rant posts.  Another way I get posts is by hearing misconceptions about the story and trying to combat them here (shoutout to Fawnabelle for helping me fight LOTR misconceptions!).



  • Where do you blog?
I work on my family's PC.  It is a pretty old computer which runs on Windows Vista and uses Word 2010, but it works alright.  I usually sit on the blue yoga ball because moving around helps keep my mind limber.  I'm hoping to save up enough money to get my own laptop so I can work anywhere, particularly outside.



  • How long does it take for you to write a post?
This varies widely as you can probably tell by the different lengths of all my posts.  It probably won't take more than twenty minutes no matter how long it is. I type pretty fast (81 wpm) so I usually can just spurt things out.  One thing that actually does take me awhile is finding the perfect image or gif for the post.  Yesterday I must have spent 10 minutes searching for the perfect meme.  To be fair, however, I usually get sidetracked by the music or other funny memes and gifs.


  • Do you have any pet peeves while blogging?
Nothing really bothers me too much when I'm blogging unless it is getting frustrated because I can't think of what to write about.  Sometimes my sister will be doing something in the other room that is loud or annoying, but that's just something I have to get used to.  Oh, I guess it bothers me when people read what I'm writing over my shoulder.




  • Do you have a favorite post?


  • Do you have any posts you would want to change?
Pretty much all of them.  None of my posts are perfect.  They all probably have grammatical or factual errors (hopefully small ones!), especially my older ones from when I was not as familiar with LOTR stuff.



  • Do your family and friends read/know about your blog?
My mom and sisters definitely know about the blog; it's no secret.  I'm not sure if my dad remembers I have it since he tends to forget small things like that.  My friends all know about my blog and I know at least a couple read it (only one reads it on a regular basis, however--shout out to Adamson!) and I will talk to them about it sometimes.  I don't think any of my family really reads it.  My mom says she wants to read it, but "I never let her".  Technically I never told her not to read it, only when she reads over my shoulder do I ask her to stop.  My sister has read two posts, namely the two debates she worked on.

My sisters who live out of the house on their own and sometimes certain teachers will ask how it is going and how many followers I have.  They like to make fun of it, but deep down I know they are impressed I work on it so often.  My teacher even let me write the address on the whiteboard in his classroom, but I don't think any students actually visited the page.



  • What are some questions you have about blogging?
My only question is how I can make my blog look better.  I've seen lots of Wordpress blogs that are absolutely beautiful, and I have been doing a lot of work to make my blog look impressive too.  If you have any tips or suggestions, I will be happy to know!

The Catholic Gentleman has a beautiful blog