A “very” sketchy analysis of the Lord of the Rings Amazon series interactive map

Amazon LOTR Map banner

So Amazon just released an interactive map in what appears to be the beginning of a long and tantalising marketing campaign leading to the release of the secretively-termed “Lord of the Rings series”.

The interactivity of this map lies in the user’s ability to zoom in or out of the familiar layout of Middle-earth and scroll across the landscape features. Suffice to say, the map is quite bare – lacking any sort of geographical names or other details.

So what clues can we gather from this rather uncommunicative map. I decided to undertake a quick exercise to analyse the map, and avoid the hundreds of other fan theories most likely spawning out there on the internet.

What follows is my own, unbiased (most probably totally erroneous, but fun-making) analysis of what this map could mean … Continue reading

“The Shadows Where the Mewlips [really] dwell” – Mapping the road to Mordor?

The Mewlips.png

I’m chuffed by the eager response asking me to post the paper I presented at this year’s Oxonmoot. Well, here it is in full (with a few additional notes) for your enjoyment, if such be its fate. Continue reading

Army numbers in Middle-earth

Last Alliance 2(C) New Line Cinema

 

When reading accounts of battles and warfare, numbers are important. They help provide context and scale to the conflict, allowing readers to assess the situation in terms of balance in favour or against an ally or enemy. Which is why I have often found it somewhat baffling that Tolkien gives us so little information on army numbers in his Middle-earth stories. Continue reading

The Tale of the Last Alliance

Last Alliance

In Tolkien’s own words 

I have long wished to see a full account of the War of the Last Alliance as written by Tolkien for the history of Middle-earth. Unfortunately, much of what we know is scattered into fragments over numerous books.

Following the success of The Tale of the Dagor Dagorth post, I have attempted to do the same thing. Looking for every passage, sentence, footnote and scrap of information referencing the Last Alliance, I have tried to construct a full account using Tolkien’s own writings. Continue reading

The Battle of The Five Armies Extended Edition Review!

Thorin chargeAn Extended Cut that fixes many issues but remains slightly inconsistent

Here it is folks! The long-awaited review of the extended edition of The Battle of the Five Armies is here.

Don’t expect a long discussion for now; just a quick look at each extended scene.

A few mild spoilers follow, in case you haven’t yet seen it. Continue reading

TTRT: The Silmarillion – Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age

Elendil goes against Sauron (header)

In which these tales and this series come to an end

The fourth and final of the short works that make up The Silmarillion, deals primarily with the events taking place in the Third Age, most of which are recounted in The Lord of the Rings.

It’s fascinating to know that Tolkien wanted to include this work along with the others, thereby producing a book that stretched all the way from the beginning of Arda (in the Ainulindalë) right through the end of the Third Age.

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Continue reading

TTRT: The Silmarillion – Akallabêth

Numenor Map (header)

The Downfall of Númenor

As already stated at the beginning of the TTRT series, although the Akallabêth is a separate account from the History of the Silmarils, it is nonetheless part of The Silmarillion as a book: presenting us with the continuation of events at the end of the First Age, with a perspective on the island of Númenor.

It is a fact that from all the works related to Middle-earth, the Second Age is perhaps the least accessible due to the lack of any substantial information.

Our primary sources as to what happens during this 3000-year period consist of a timeline in Appendix B of The Lord of the Rings, a brief account and story in Unfinished Tales, and the ‘Akallabêth’.

My view is that the ‘Akallabêth’ is our most comprehensive account we have available of the Second Age, and is the key to filling up the gap between the events at the end of the ‘Quenta Silmarillion’ and the earliest histories of the Third Age as recounted in The Lord of the Rings. Continue reading

What were the Silent Watchers?

The Silent Watchers

Spirits Only a Gamgee could Master

If you have seen the films, you probably didn’t notice them. But if you’ve read The Lord of the Rings, you most probably remember them clearly. You’ve asked questions, but never got to any revealing answers.

It is ironic how, with all the appendices, letters and thousands of pages on Middle-earth’s history and detail, there are so many mysteries left unraveled by Tolkien.

Case in point are the Silent Watchers guarding the entrance to the tower of Cirith Ungol. Continue reading

TTRT: The Silmarillion – Chapter Nineteen

Beren Steals a Silmaril (header)

O Beren, Beren, wherefore art thou Beren?

It’s a love story that transcends the physical world; a powerful narrative on the hopes and destinies of the two principal races in The Silmarillion.

The first of the three Great Tales from the First Age, ‘Of Beren and Lúthien’ highlights Tolkien’s mastery in balancing the vast and the epic, with the intricate and romantic.

Forget Romeo and Juliet, Tristan and Isolde, or Dante’s Paolo e Francesca. The story of Beren and Lúthien may have been inspired by these older tales, but they are merely sketches that made way for the final masterpiece.

It’s impossible to summarise a chapter that runs over 20 pages and still do it justice. Therefore, I urge you to read through the book first (if you haven’t done so already) and then come back to these few meager lines that follow in this post … Continue reading

Announcing the Tolkien Trio Reading Tradition (or TTRT)!

Reading stick figure man

(Yes, it’s the return of the stick figures!)

Reading Tolkien’s Books Chapter by Chapter

Almost every blog does it at one point in its existence. It seems to be the inevitable fate which I’ve recently been set into doing. It’s time for me to begin my annual Tolkien Trio Reading Tradition: reading, in chronological order, through The Silmarillion, The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.

Long have been my discussions (with myself) about specific aspects of the stories; or the intricacies of a single chapter; or even just marvelling at the rich and complex world laid out before me.

So this year, I’ve decided to do a series of weekly posts discussing, one chapter after the other, each of these books. From the creation of Arda and Middle-earth to the Fall of Sauron and the Voyage into the West.

And you’re all invited to participate!

Every couple of days (depending on reading times and real life intrusions), I’ll be posting a brief summary of the current chapter read: including my thoughts on it and raising some questions for discussion.Books The primary aim of this read-along is to discuss with you, in depth, Tolkien’s major works; whilst at the same time, perhaps, help out anyone still struggling to open up that dusty copy of The Silmarillion for the very first time. And it’s precisely why I’ve decided to tackle the seemingly overwhelming tales of the First Age at the beginning. I encourage all of you Tolkien readers, beginners and veterans alike, to join in this reading experience. You may want to read at your own pace – which is absolutely fine; so long as we see you joining the discussions 🙂 The idea is to have fun and share our reading experience of J.R.R Tolkien’s books.

And yes, those dreaded stick figures of mine will be making an appearance in these posts: to help you visualise the books beyond what Tolkien or Peter Jackson are capable of doing … 😀

In the meantime, it just so happens that we welcome a new blogher who has also started doing a similar series of readings – but based on the equally-challenging The History of Middle-earth series. If that’s currently your cup of tea, head over to Lisa’s Tolkien Read Through for the opening first chapters. So get out your copies of The Silmarillion and start reading, as next week we’ll be talking about the Ainulindalë and the Valaquenta. Until next time 😉