Almost three weeks ago we began our battles in this year’s Middle-earth March Madness. Each year, we try to mix things up a bit by creating different brackets; this year the categories were Books Only,Movies Only, Wider Mythos and Movie and Book, giving us four sets of varied characters from Tolkien’s realm. We also let previous champions Gandalf, Galadriel, Samwise Gamgee and Thranduil sit it out in a ‘Champion’s Hall of Fame’ – so we knew we’d have a first time victor this year.
Before we announce the overall winner, let’s look back over the five rounds which led up to the Final:
In Movies Only, the Moth Messengers made their first appearance, but were quickly squashed under the trotters of Dain’s Boar. Sebastian the Hedgehog, however, in a blow for small mammals everywhere, vanquished the Goblin Scribe; and there were brief hopes that he might make his way onwards to win the group. Alas, in Round 2 he came up against Tauriel, and he was no match for the elf warrior.
Figwit unruffled as ever
Alfrid Lickspittle, to the relief of many, was hastily dispatched by Figwit; the immaculate elf cruised through to the Sweet Sixteen Round 3, only to be defeated there by mighty stallion Brego. This fiercesome mount was the overall victor of the Movies Only group, having beaten Tauriel in the Elite Eight round.
Brego faced the winner of the Books Only section; a tough group, featuring such legends as Goldberry, Glorfindel, Elrohir, the Barrow-wights and Quickbeam. Small wonder that Fatties Bolger and Lumpkin were unable to get past Round One! In Round Three we had the first awkward pairing of the tournament, when Tom Bombadil had to take on his wife, Goldberry. Perhaps he overcame her, or perhaps she graciously allowed him to win; either way, it was the creature in yellow boots who went on to secure the division.
Not surprisingly, some of the most popular figures appeared in the Movie and Book bracket. Here the likes of Bilbo, Pippin, Faramir and Boromir had to battle Merry, Thorin, Aragorn and other heroes. Even the villains had tough match-ups, with Smaug facing the Witch-king and Sauron up against Shelob – and these were all just first round fights! By the Sweet Sixteen, Sauron was the only bad guy still in the mix – but Elrond did what he could not at the end of the Second Age, and vanquished the Necromancer; only to fall to the section winner, Aragorn, in the Elite Eight.
That fourth round also saw our second difficult ‘lovers’ tiff’, with Beren coming up against Luthien in the Wider Mythos division. Their journey to that point had seen them conquer such worthy opponents as Feanor, Earendil, Glaurung and Varda. Even Morgoth and Eru himself couldn’t make it past Round Two! In the Elite Eight match-up, mortal man Beren was no test for his elf spouse; she won their battle with an overwhelming more than 70% of the vote, making her winner of the Wider Mythos section.
In the Semi Finals, Luthien wasn’t able to defeat another devotee of elf-maidens; she was conquered by the Ranger from the North. The other Final Four battle brought disappointment for those of us hoping for a Brego vs Aragorn final; Tom Bombadil beat the steed, taking almost two thirds of the vote.
And so Aragorn was in to his second Middle-earth March Madness final, facing a somewhat unknown quantity in the strange and ancient creature from the Old Forest. The 2200+ votes have been counted, and the winner is…
And then there were two… We’re down to the Grand Final in Middle-earth March Madness 2017 – only one can emerge as this year’s Champion. Here’s what happened in the Final Four stage:
In Books Only vs Movies Only, we had Tom Bombadil dancing rings around loyal steed Brego, who just couldn’t come up with any answers to the yellow-booted fellow. Alas, (for those of us who were hoping for an Aragorn vs Brego final), Bombadil took almost two thirds of the vote to win this fight.
Wider Mythos vs Movie and Book saw Luthien take on a man who knows a bit about immortal elf maidens, and what it means to give your heart to one. With a similar margin to the other Semi Final, Aragorn easily defeated the pointy-eared warrior to claim his place in the Final.
Here are the full results for Middle-earth March Madness thus far:
And so we come to it at last – the great battle of our time. This year’s Championship Round in Middle-earth March Madness sees Strider, the Ranger from the North, take on Tom Bombadil, the River-woman’s daughter’s husband… How will these characters match up? Let’s take a look at some vital statistics for them both:
Aliases: Elfstone, Strider, Longshanks, Wingfoot, Elessar, Thorongil, Estel (‘Hope’), Telcontar, The Dunedan, the Renewer, Isildur’s Heir
Date of Birth: TA 2931
Race: Man of Gondor, of Isildur’s Line
Date of Death: FA 120
Parents: Arathorn, Gilraen
Spouse: Arwen Evenstar (married TA 3019)
Children: Eldarion, and several daughters
Tolkien describes Strider as tall, with ‘a shaggy head of dark hair flecked with grey, and in a pale stern face a pair of keen grey eyes.’ Raised by his mother at Rivendell, with Elrond as a surrogate father, he there met Arwen Undomiel. After meeting Frodo at The Prancing Pony in Bree, he became part of the Fellowship, which he then led after Gandalf’s fall in Moria.
Aragorn has participated in Middle-earth March Madness every year; he was last in the final in 2012, when he was defeated by Samwise Gamgee.
Aliases: Iarwain Ben-adar (‘Oldest and Fatherless’), Forn, Orald, the Master of wood, water, and hill
Date of Birth: Unknown. He says of himself, ‘Eldest, that’s what I am … Tom remembers the first raindrop and the first acorn … When the Elves passed westward, Tom was here already … before the Dark Lord came from Outside.’
Race: Unknown. Elrond calls him ‘a strange creature’
Spouse: Goldberry, known as ‘River-woman’s daughter”
Very little is known of Tom Bombadil. He lives in the valley of the Withywindle river, by the Old Forest. We know plenty about his appearance – Tolkien describes him as wearing ‘an old battered hat with a tall crown and a long blue feather stuck in the band.’ The Professor goes on: ‘a man, or so it seemed. At any rate he was too large and heavy for a hobbit, if not quite tall enough for one of the Big People … stumping along with great yellow boots on his thick legs … He had a blue coat and a long brown beard; his eyes were blue and bright, and his face was red as a ripe apple, but creased into a hundred wrinkles of laughter.’ He has extraordinary power within his own domain, commanding Old Man Willow and the Barrow-wights to release the hobbits, and being totally unaffected by the power of the Ring. He seems, however, to live somewhat outside the world, being mostly unconcerned with the goings-on of the other races of Middle-earth.
Bombadil has been in Middle-earth March Madness several times, but has never before made it past Round 2.
If Bombadil and Aragorn were to ride into battle, Aragorn (in the movies, at least) would ride in on Brego; Tom would come on his faithful pony, Fatty Lumpkin.
Will Strider be overcome by ancient and powerful magic? Or will Tom’s nonchalant attitude be defeated by the warrior skills of the Ranger from the North?
After a fairly close fight, Brego is the victor of the Movies Only group! Elf warrior Tauriel just couldn’t overcome the battle-hardened steed; could we be heading towards that Aragorn vs Brego final? It’s certainly still on the cards, as Aragorn comfortably defeated Elrond to emerge as champion of the Movie and Books category.
Books Only was neck and neck right up to the last moment, with yellow boots taking on pointy ears; Tom Bombadil finally won over Glorfindel, with a margin of just over 1%! So it is Tom who goes on to face Brego in the Semi Final. Aragorn’s opponent in this penultimate round will be courageous elf maiden Luthien, who was pitted against her own true love Beren in the Elite Eight. The mortal man proved to be no match for her, with Luthien taking over 70% of the vote in the Wider Mythos pairing. After all the trials they endured in Angband, let’s hope their love survived this latest challenge!
Here are the full results from the Elite Eight:
Voting for the Final Four matches is now open! You have until April 3rd 10pm EST to have your say. Will we see that Brego/Aragorn final? You decide – VOTE NOW! (more…)
In the Movies Only group, Tauriel continues to show her warrior strength, seeing off Lurtz by a pretty wide margin. Less expected was the other result in this category – Figwit’s untroubled progess thus far was halted in a convincing manner, as he was easily beaten by fiercesome steed Brego.
Books Only saw pairings with very wide margins of victory: Glorfindel defeated Prince Imrahil with more than 80% of the vote, and in the most awkward battle thus far, Tom Bombadil conquered his spouse Goldberry. Tom had almost three quarters of the vote in this fight; personally, I was hoping that Goldberry would rain on his parade, but it wasn’t to be. I hope they’re still speaking…
In Movie and Books, Elrond managed what he couldn’t at the end of the Second Age, defeating Sauron without any problems. Aragorn also had an easy win – I’m afraid Bilbo proved no match for the Ranger from the North. So we’re still on for a potential final between loyal horse Brego and the man he saved… Could be interesting!
And finally, in the Wider Mythos set, we’re looking at a battle to rival the awkwardness of the Bombadil/Goldberry fight… Yes, devoted lovers Luthien and Beren are through, and will face each other in the Quarter Finals. TORn will need to start offering couples’ counselling if we’re going to make a habit of these kind of matches!
Here are the full results from the third round:
You can vote in the Quarter Finals until March 31st 10pm EST. Beren or Luthien? Immortal elf-maiden or the man who risked all to win her hand? You decide – VOTE NOW! (more…)
Sebastian handles his defeat in a mature and dignified manner
So the battle drums continue to beat, and sixteen weary victors continue on into Round 3 of Middle-earth March Madness 2017! Only YOU (and as many of your friends as you can round up to join in the voting) can decide who will make it on to the Quarter Finals. Let’s see who’s still with us:
First up, the Movies Only category, where characters created by PJ and his gang fight it out in search of eternal (until next year, at least) glory: Aragorn’s loyal Brego had no trouble seeing off Mumak Mahud – clearly the rider is no match for the horse. Figwit defeated Mrs Proudfoot without disturbing a hair on his immaculate head; and it will come as a big disappointment (but perhaps no surprise) to some that Sebastian’s dreams of conquest are over. Yes, despite a brave fight from the spiny mammal, pointy-eared warrior Tauriel came out ahead, and progresses to Round 3.
On to Books Only, where Goldberry and Tom Bombadil continue on without any real problems. They may not have made it into the movies, but they have made it to Round 3 – where, awkwardly, they now have to face each other. Glorfindel joins them, but sadly Quickbeam was too slow to get going in this round, and was defeated by Prince Imrahil.
In Movie and Books, Bilbo is holding the torch for all hobbits; with Merry defeated by Aragorn, Mr Baggins is the only halfling still in the contest, having narrowly beaten Faramir. (With Aragorn and Brego both continuing on, we find ourselves wondering – what if they were to meet in the final? Would Brego be half-mad enough to vanquish his kingly friend, or would he have seen enough of war by then, and concede to the man he saved?)
Finally, in the Wider Mythos set, Luthien and Beren progress together, having seen off Glaurung and Feanor. In The Silmarillion, we learn that of all the Valar, Morgoth feared Varda the most; and well he might, as after a close run battle between them, Varda emerged victorious. But it is in this category that we find the biggest upset of this round – Earendil is sailing on, after a shock victory over Eru! Who would have expected a Mariner to beat Middle-earth’s supreme being? They don’t call it March Madness for nothing, you know…
Here are the full results from the second round:
Round 3 voting is open until March 28th 10pm EST. Will Goldberry final show Tom exactly what she thinks of his yellow boots and his ‘Ring a dong dillos’? In a showdown worthy of the end of the Second Age, will Elrond conquer the dark lord Sauron? It’s up to you – vote now! (more…)
TORn’s friend Dan Freeman, who wrote ‘audio movie’ The Minister of Chance(which featured the talents of both Sylvester McCoy and Jed Brophy), is penning a new play. A Joke will star actors Richard Oliver (who was in The Minister of Chance), Robert Picardo (perhaps best known to geeks for Star Trek and Stargate), and McCoy, whom we all know as Radagast (not to mention, of course, the seventh Doctor).
The show is in development, so exact dates for performances at the Edinburgh Festival Fringe are not yet confirmed – but there are two performances scheduled in Cheshire (England) on August 11 and 12 this summer. If you’d like to know more, check out the website, here.
The battles are underway and the clash of arms echoes around TheOneRing.net – we’re into the thick of it with Middle-earth March Madness! As you know (click here for details), our categories this year are Movies Only, Books Only, Movies and Books, and Wider Mythos – so we’ve got some unusual contestants mixing in with familiar fighters. And that means some unexpected results…
In the Movies Only group, Sebastian the Hedgehog was clearly sufficiently recovered from his brush with dark magic, to see off the Goblin Scribe. Alfrid Lickspittle may have been a sneaky survivor (up to a point) in the films, but he’s already out of this contest, resoundingly conquered by the ever lovely Figwit.
Books Only – we’re glad to see that happy couple Goldberry and Tom Bombadil are both through to Round 2, having seen off Fatty Lumpkin and Celebrian, respectively.
Some of the most epic battles thus far have surely been in the Movies and Books category, where after a mighty struggle, the Balrog was able to see off Beorn (did he have wings to help him?). It will come as no surprise that Sauron and Smaug have both made it through; but who would have expected Merry to manage a narrow defeat over Boromir? His pal Pippin will not be joining him in Round 2, having been vanquished by Aragorn; and I’m afraid hot dwarf Thorin is already down and out, with Faramir showing his quality in a fairly convincing win.
Wider Mythos sees Luthien and Beren both progressing; they are joined in the second round by Earendil, who ‘sailed’ through in an easy victory over Finrod. And in the most fiery of battles, Glaurung overcame Ancalagon; could he go on to face Smaug in the Semi-final?
Here are the full results of the first round match-ups. [Click here]
And so on to Round 2! Voting is open until March 25th 10pm EST; show your support for your favourites, and make sure they survive to Round 3! What lies in store – could there be an all tree battle in Round 4, with Quickbeam facing Old Man Willow? Might we see a final showdown between Goldberry and Luthien? Could Sebastian the Hedgehog go all the way to be crowned champion? YOU decide – vote now!
Movies Only – Round 2 March 23rd – March 25th 2016
Books Only – Round 2 March 23rd – March 25th 2016
Movie & Book – Round 2 March 23rd – March 25th 2016
Wider Mythos – Round 2 March 23rd – March 25th 2016
Yesterday it was announced that Sir Ian McKellen will take to the stage this July, in a fundraiser for Park Theatre in London. His new one man show is called ‘Ian McKellen with Shakespeare, Tolkien, Others & You’, and will run July 3rd to 9th 2017. This extraordinary event gives fans the opportunity to see Sir Ian reprise the roles for which he is best known, including, of course, Gandalf; and with some of the extra ‘perks’ on offer, there are even chances to enjoy a glass of wine with Sir Ian, or to act with him. Park Theatre tell us:
‘Come on a journey with multi-award winning, twice Oscar nominated star of stage and screen Sir Ian McKellen, as he takes you through some of the most exciting pages and stages of his fifty years’ acting. Reprising some of his renowned performances, from Gandalf to Macbeth, he will take requests, answer your questions and invite you to act with him. An intimate and unforgettable one man show with one of the world’s finest actors.’
Full details of this exciting show can be found here. It is, not surprisingly, already sold out; but don’t despair! Park Theatre say they ‘may shortly release more tickets’; and there will be £10 tickets available in strictly limited quantities, on the day of each performance. So you may yet be able to spend an evening in such extraordinary company – good luck!
Sunday 12th February the British Academy of Film and Television Arts held their annual film awards. Our favourite citizen of Lake-town Luke Evans was there as a presenter; and even more excitingly for Middle-earth fans, Viggo Mortensen was nominated in the Leading Actor category, for Captain Fantastic. (The award went to Casey Affleck, for Manchester by the Sea.)
Mortensen was of course on the red carpet, where he was interviewed by Zoe Ball. Many of you will have seen the fabulous picture (right) of Mortensen hanging out with an elf and some hobbits, the day after the Screen Actors Guild awards. In the Bafta interview, he explained how that came about. Take a look:
It’s heartwarming to know that the bonds forged amongst the cast of The Lord of the Rings are still as strong today – just as the friendships and connections we fans have made are unbreakable. I’m told that in Finland they celebrate friendships on Valentine’s Day – seems a good time to raise a glass to Fellowship! Cheers!
It may be a little late for Christmas shopping, but there are many holidays and celebrations at this time of year (and if you’ve been wondering about holiday gift ideas, we hope you’ve checked out our Holiday Gift Guide); and of course it’s never too late to treat yourself! So we thought our readers would like to know about the beautiful Elvish Four Leaf Set recently released by our friends at Shire Post Mint.
The four coins are shaped like holly leaves, and are in different metals to represent the four seasons. Shire Post Mint say, ‘Also known as Eregion (meaning Land of the Holly in Sindarin), Hollin was an Elven Realm of the Noldorin Elves during the Second Age. It was located near the West Gate of Moria, or Khazad-dûm. These coins were made by the Noldorin Elves while under the rule of Celebrimbor, the great Elven-smith and forger of the Rings of Power. Hollin was later destroyed during the War of the Elves and Sauron.’
You can read more about this stunning set here, and can see full details and place an order here. Coins have been considered lucky New Year presents in many cultures – perhaps start 2017 with a talisman for the good fortune you hope to see throughout the year?
As part of the celebrations of the fifteenth anniversary of the release of Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring, Tourism New Zealand has launched a new way to explore the country that has become, for many, the ‘real’ Middle-earth. They tell us:
‘To celebrate New Zealand being the real Middle-earth for 15 years (since the first Lord of the Rings film) we have come up with a new way to take you on an adventure.
Imagine if you travelled the real Middle-earth like a Hobbit – what journey would you take? What if you were an Elf? A Dwarf? A Wizard? ‘Middle-earth travel’ aligns the characters to the NZ experiences they would do, on their New Zealand holiday.
Consumers will take a quiz to discover what character they are, and will receive a personalised message from Peter Jackson saying:
What character they are
Providing them with a customised itinerary through NZ
Providing them with a shareable video of ‘What to pack’ for their journey to Middle-earth’
Many airline companies have sales on around this time of year, so if you’re inspired, maybe 2017 will be the year you make your own Unexpected Journey to Middle-earth? Or at least we can all enjoy pictures from 100% Pure New Zealand, whilst we dream of such a voyage…!
One month on from New York ComicCon, we thought readers might enjoy a gallery of images from the event – to see the fun which unfolded in the Big Apple, and perhaps to reminisce, if you were there!
Big thanks to all who came and visited TORn’s booth this year. The convention was bigger than ever, and fighting one’s way around the show floor is no easy feat! It is always a delight to meet with fellow fans, and we loved chatting with all who came by – or who joined us at the ‘Fan Meet-up’ on Saturday night. And of course it was a joy to hang out with everyone who joined us on the Thursday evening for our annual ‘Ringers take Manhattan’ party. Special thanks to Graham McTavish for coming along, and being a true gent to all the partygoers. (more…)
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