In his second of many articles for our worldwide community, Tedoras, long-time audience participant on our TORn TUESDAY webcast brings us a fascinating idea: a lost connection to the Beacons of Gondor perhaps… Read on for a short but very interesting look at how an ancient Biblical account may have inspired Tolkien! Take it away, Tedoras….
The (Biblical) Beacons of Gondor
By Tedoras — special to TheOneRing.net
This past April 28th happened to be the Jewish holiday of Lag B’Omer (the 33rd day of the Counting of the Sheaves, to be more precise). Now, you are probably wondering how this little-known holiday relates to The Lord of the Rings (and, if you’re like me, you’d like to know what a “sheaf” is, too). It turns out a sheaf is a bundle for cereal plants—fortunately for us all, though, my story has nothing to do with Biblical agriculture. Rather, it begins with The Return of the King.
If you are like me, you love those amazing fly-by shots from The Lord of the Rings films. One of the most epic sequences of such shots is the lighting of the beacons in ROTK (refresh your memory here). Whether your first encounter with these mountaintop fires was in literature or film, you probably thought it was an ingenious mode of communication. Certainly, they are by far the best means for sending urgent messages across long distances (and I hope the Gondorian who urged their construction was handsomely rewarded). In order to see the connection between these beacons and the aforementioned holiday, it is important to know the story of Lag B’Omer.
In short, Lag B’Omer commemorates a revolt in the year 131 CE. The Israelites, under the leadership of Bar Kochba, rose up against the Romans, who ruled the land at that time. Years before the Romans came, the Israelites had built a series of m’durot, or bonfires, upon the surrounding mountains. So, when the revolt began, (you guessed it) Bar Kochba ordered a beacon lit. A soldier took a torch to the top of a mountain, lit one the beacons, and thus sent word around the land that war had begun.
Certainly, the use of the beacons of Gondor to call for Rohan’s aid is reminiscent of this episode. Yet, was Tolkien inspired by this Biblical tale in his creation of the beacons? On the one hand, we know Tolkien was well-versed in the Bible; his contemporaneous English education saw to that. Furthermore, Tolkien was a lifelong scholar—thus, if not in school, it is likely he would have encountered this story on his own. Assuming Tolkien was acquainted with this tale, the unanswerable question here, of course, is whether or not he consciously recognized the Bible as their source.
However, on the other hand, a case can certainly be made that Tolkien knew not of the story of Bar Kochba’s revolt. For a realm the size of Gondor, it would make sense to have a system for mass-communication in the event of any important occurrence. And, while these beacons also housed fresh horses on stand-by for couriers, it is clear that signal fires would be a much faster means. The independent invention of the beacons is not only possible in terms of the technology available to Gondor at the time, but it is also becoming of the prudence and wisdom of the Gondorian kings of Old.
This is one of many familiar situations to us Tolkien fans: is there a “right” answer here? Personally, I do not think it really matters; I intended only to present a surprising and uncanny resemblance upon which I happened to stumble. But, of course, such a topic is up for interpretation—so I will let you decide for yourself.
Posted in J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Movies, Miscellaneous, Movie Return of the King, Return of the King, TheOneRing.net Community, Tolkien, TORn TUESDAYS Live!
Back in September 1999, these were the questions on the minds of fans…
Q:What role did Glorfindel play after the incident at the Fords of Bruinen? I don’t remember any further mention of him and it seems strange that such a noble Elven Lord would not be involved at all in the War of the Ring.
- Quinton Carr
A: He wasn’t. But if you think about it, many “noble Elven lords” did not do anything *active* in the War after the Fellowship left Rivendell or Lorien. Elrond, Celeborn, noble Elven ladies like Galadriel, Arwen . . . their roles were peripheral. Not to mention the fact that I’m sure both Elrond and Celeborn had a goodly number of strong, well-armed Elves at their disposal, who didn’t go with the Fellowship *or* down to the battles in Gondor. But the answer is actually pretty simple, and Elrond gives it to us in “Fellowship:” “The number must be few, since your hope is in speed and secrecy. Had I a host of Elves in armour of the Elder Days, it would avail little, save to arouse the power of Mordor.” So that explains why none of them went with the Fellowship. Why did none of these mighty Elves save Elrohir and Elladan ride down to Gondor once it was clear that there would be battle? My answer has a couple of parts. Firstly, Elrohir and Elladan, according to the Tale of Years, were born after the wars at the end of the Second Age when Sauron was thrown down, and were not a party to them as their father was. They’d never gotten their “chance,” so to speak. As for the rest of them, they had all gone to war against Sauron at the end of the Second Age. They felt their time had passed, and moreover that the hour of the Secondborn was striking. They knew that the power of their Rings would fade if Frodo was successful, and that Men would rise and Elves would dwindle. They must have felt it was right for the men, i.e. the armies of Gondor and Rohan, to earn for themselves the privilege of ushering in the Fourth Age.
Posted in Characters, Christopher Tolkien, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, The Hobbit, Tolkien
It’s been over 12 years since some of these common Tolkien related questions have been answered, so what better time then to repost some of them for the newbies. Contained in this post are some newbie classics….Why do the Eagles always show up at the last minute? Why did Sauron not just come forth to war? Why do the Black Riders seem to be so weak? Read on…
Q: Greetings masters of lore. My question deals with the Nazgul. I know of Khamul, but I have not found the names of the other Nazgul. If they had names, what were they as well as who were they prior to their transformation? Furthermore, is there any story about their creation and why Sauron decided to choose them specifically?
A: Khamul seems to be the only named Ringwraith. What we know of him is given in the section “The Hunt for the Ring” in Unfinished Tales (1980). He was second to the Chief, and his name is given as Khamul the Shadow of the East. Some more about the Nazgul, or the Ulairi, can be found in some of the volumes of the History of Middle-earth, particularly in the section “The Story of Frodo and Sam in Mordor” in Sauron Defeated (1992), and in the work on the Appendices to The Lord of the Rings as printed in The Peoples of Middle-earth (1996). But, unfortunately, the histories of the men who became the Nazgul seems nowhere to be specifically illuminated.
Posted in Characters, Christopher Tolkien, Hobbit Book, Hobbit Movie, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Sean Astin, The Hobbit, Tolkien
General Manager of Weta Limited Tim Launder teased what’s to come from Weta Workshop over the next few months with a post at The Shadow and Flame message board. From his post there are some big things to come via The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit including something totally new for The Hobbit collectibles. If you love the work Weta does as much as I do this announcement has you super excited!
Posted in Collectibles, Collectibles, ComicCon, Conventions, Fellowship of the Ring, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, LotR Movies, Merchandise, Movie Fellowship of the Ring, Movie Return of the King, Movie The Two Towers, Return of the King, Shop, The Two Towers, Weta Collectibles, WETA Workshop
We had a wonderful time in April, attending 3 shows in Melbourne and the Gold Coast of Australia, and our first visit to CalgaryExpo in Canada. It was exciting to meet some new and old Flamers in person for the first time. We were especially grateful for the kind donations of chocolate for the crew !
Most of us just got back to work on Monday, a bit tired, but ready to get going again. And of course, we are only 2 months away from the Big Show; San Diego Comic Con. Time flies, we can’t wait ! We will be in the same booth space (3513B) as last year. This has now become our own Weta booth, we are no longer sharing someone else’s space. We will have our largest ever team of Weta crew at Comic Con this year. We’ll be announcing names soon. Please come and say Hi We are shipping out a container full of goodies to San Diego at the end of May, full of confidential, new stuff. We still have lots of work to do, as there are always a handful of items packed in at the last minute.
The Hobbit – 1/6th scale polystone range
We have now launched the first seven pieces in the 1/6th scale range: Thorin, Gandalf, Bilbo, Dwalin, Balin, Bombur and Gollum. Thanks so much to all of you who have supported this range, we consider these to be the best quality sculptures we have created. This will be our signature line for The Hobbit trilogy of movies and we have several more outstanding pieces in production. A lot of thought has gone into the poses, and how the various characters could be displayed together. We expect this will become clearer over time. We will most likely unveil the next sculpture in the range in July.
Some of you have asked why there are no creatures launched yet ? The reason is that most of the creatures are created in digital form for the films, and the digital work is normally finalized very late in the film making process. So therefore we could not start work on these creatures until very late last year. But never fear, they are coming !
The Hobbit – Environments
We had hoped to have launched an environment by now. We were actually building a few pieces last year. But once the decision was made to change from 2 to 3 movies, we had to put them on hold until the second movie is released.
The good news is that we do have 2 new environments in production now, so you will be seeing them at some stage soon.
The Hobbit – New Polystone Product Ranges !
Over the next few months, we will be launching some new smaller scale pieces, priced under US$100, including a few special pre-releases from the upcoming movie The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug. Look out for these at Comic Con!
The Hobbit – Prop Replicas
Our Staves have been extremely popular. The first production of both the Staff of Radagast the Brown and the Staff of Gandalf the Grey, sold out even before they arrived in our warehouses. The second and final production run will take place over the next few months and we hope to release these final pieces before the end of 2013. We strongly suggest pre-ordering to ensure you don’t miss out.
The Key to Erebor is our highest selling item. We have sold out our stocks twice and are struggling to keep up with production
Daniel Reeve has had a great time creating hand made Contracts and Maps.
Jewelry from Middle-earth
Our new range of Jewelry from Middle-earth has been a huge hit, especially The One Ring in gold plated tungsten carbide, created by Jens Hansen Gold and Silversmith. We continue to struggle to keep up with supply for this item, the Evenstar and the Elven Leaf Brooch
We have a new Stone Pendant launching in the next week. Keep an eye out for it
The Hobbit – Maps and Art Prints
We now have a room in our office dedicated to storing tubes with all the Maps and art prints created by the artists who worked on the movies. We will continue to expand this range and would be grateful for a poll to vote on the scenes you’d like to see from LOTR and The Hobbit.
If you are coming to Comic Con in July, this would be a great opportunity to get some of these art prints signed.
You can also expect to see something new from Daniel Reeve soon too
The Lord of the Rings
There are a couple of items in production from LOTR.
The Fellowship of the Ring – Set 2 starts arriving in our warehouses over the next month, and will be followed up by Set 3 in a few months time. All three sets look fantastic displayed together, with a mirror set behind them, as we have done in the Weta Cave
We will also be releasing a new sculpture of Arwen soon, as part of the range of smaller scale pieces; Gollum, Gandalf and Strider
Our next shipments arrive in our 3 warehouses in the US, UK and NZ over the next month, including new pieces such as:
- The Fellowship of the Ring – Set 2
- The Pipe of Fili the Dwarf
- The Staff of Gandalf the Grey (already sold out)
- Gollum Enraged
Changing Warehouses in the US
In late May / early June, we will be changing our warehouse in the US. So if you are planning to make any orders in the near future, we recommend making your order in the next 2 weeks.
And for customers in North America, we will be announcing a range of special offers early next week, to help us reduce our inventory before we move to the new warehouse. Watch out for this in our next newsletter !
It is one of the first things you learn in the craft of writing. Mediocre dialogue is instantly forgotten–but brilliant dialogue lives forever in the mouth of your audience.
You know those finely crafted little moments you always remember from a movie or play? Even if you don’t see the performers again the brightest or funniest quips will linger on. The best movie dialogue has a way of becoming oft-heard bon mots relished among water cooler conversation.
The same goes for literature but often in broader measure. The most impressive wordplay remains within your psyche long after you put the book down. When the rubber meets the road, it’s how a great writer is elevated above the ordinary herds.
Indeed one of the first things you learn about J.R.R. Tolkien is that his work is ripe with just such powerful language. His wonderful ability to play with tone, color, and emotion made it easy for me to select the following from The Lord of the Rings. These are my favorite one-liners (or two-liners), that stand out as having a striking impact. Consider this collection a literary sampler akin to “Tolkien’s Greatest Hits.”
Lord knows that the Professor himself would frown upon the idea, yet I present them playfully and respectfully. Whenever I read and encounter these moments I am forever impressed with intensity, humor, or remembrance.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Most bittersweet line:
“I have quite finished, Sam,” said Frodo. “The last pages are for you.”
Best exclamation of joy:
“Ass! Fool! Thrice worthy and beloved Barliman!”
Most perfect description of beauty:
Young she was and yet not so. The braids of her dark hair were touched by no frost; her white arms and clear face were flawless and smooth, and the light of stars was in her bright eyes, grey as a cloudless night; yet queenly she looked, and thought and knowledge were in her glance, as of one who has known many things that the years bring.
Most poetic description of the weather:
The weather was grey and overcast, with wind from the East, but as evening drew into night the sky away westward cleared, and pools of faint light, yellow and pale green, opened under the grey shores of cloud. There the white rind of the new Moon could be seen glimmering in the remote lakes.
Most shocking moment:
But even as it fell it swung its whip, and the thongs lashed and curled about the wizard’s knees, dragging him to the brink. He staggered and fell, grasped vainly at the stone, and slid into the abyss.
Most gruesome encounter:
Then Pippin stabbed upwards, and the written blade of Westernesse pierced through the hide and went deep into the vitals of the troll, and his black blood came gushing out.
Most colorful analogy:
“Troubles follow you like crows, and ever the oftener the worse.”
Best example of friendly competition:
“Forty-two, Master Legolas!” he cried.
Most powerful moment of rage:
Then he charged. No onslaught more fierce was ever seen in the savage world of beasts, where some desperate small creature armed with little teeth, alone, will spring upon a tower of horn and hide that stands above its fallen mate.
Best invitation to dinner:
“You shall come home with me! The table is all laden with yellow cream, honeycomb, and white bread and butter.”
Saruman- ”For I am Saruman the Wise, Saruman Ring-maker, Saruman of Many Colors!”
Gandalf- ”I liked white better.”
Farmer Cotton found Frodo lying on his bed; he was clutching a white gem that hung on a chain about his neck and he seemed half in a dream. “It is gone forever,” he said, “and now all is dark and empty.”
Most gothic description of evil:
Paler indeed than the moon ailing in some slow eclipse was the light of it now, wavering and blowing like a noisome exhalation of decay, a corpse-light, a light that illuminated nothing.
Most shrewd political advice:
“He uses others as his weapons. So do all great lords, if they are wise, Master Halfling.”
Single best piece of advice:
“Do not meddle in the affairs of Wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”
Single funniest line:
“…What’s taters, precious, eh, what’s taters?”
Funniest exchange between two characters:
Éomer- ”…For there are certain rash words concerning the Lady in the Golden Wood that lie still between us. And now I have seen her with my eyes.”
Gimli- “Well, lord, and what say you now?”
Éomer- ”Alas! I will not say that she is the fairest lady that lives.”
Gimli- ”Then I must go for my axe.”
Most beautiful dream sequence:
As he fell slowly into sleep, Pippin had a strange feeling: he and Gandalf were still as stone, seated upon the statue of a running horse, while the world rolled away beneath his feet with a great noise of wind.
Most enigmatic historical allusion:
“Fair was she who long ago wore this on her shoulder. Goldberry shall wear it now, and we will not forget her!”
Strongest statement of gender equality:
“In place of the Dark Lord you will set up a Queen.”
Most romantic kiss:
And he took her in his arms and kissed her under the sunlit sky, and he cared not that they stood high upon the walls in the sight of many.
Most exciting call of alarm:
AWAKE! FEAR! FIRE! FOES! AWAKE!
Most intimidating description of geography:
Ever and anon the furnaces far below its ashen cone would grow hot and with a great surging and throbbing pour forth rivers of molten rock from chasms in its sides. Some would flow blazing towards Barad-dûr down great channels; some would wind their way into the stony plain, until they cooled and lay like twisted dragon-shapes vomited from the tormented earth.
Most beautiful sunset:
But in front a thin veil of water was hung, so near that Frodo could have put an outstretched arm into it. It faced westward. The level shafts of the setting sun behind beat upon it, and the red light was broken into many flickering beams of ever-changing colour. It was as if they stood at the window of some elven-tower, curtained with threaded jewels of silver and gold, and ruby, sapphire and amethyst, all kindled with an unconsuming fire.
Most insidious falsehood:
“Our friendship would profit us both alike. Much we could still accomplish together, to heal the disorders of the world.”
Most spectacular moment of destruction:
Towers fell and mountains slid; walls crumbled and melted, crashing down; vast spires of smoke and spouting steams went billowing up, up, until they toppled like an overwhelming wave, and its wild crest curled and came foaming down upon the land.
Most moving speech on the battlefield:
“But no living man am I! You look upon a woman. Éowyn I am, Éomund’s daughter. You stand between me and my lord and kin. Begone, if you be not deathless! For living or dark undead, I will smite you if you touch him.”
Most Shakespearean dialogue:
“Stir not the bitterness in the cup that I mixed for myself,” said Denethor. “Have I not tasted it now many nights upon my tongue, foreboding that worse lay yet in the dregs?”
Most wonderful hobbit irony:
Then there was Lobelia. …and there was such clapping and cheering when she appeared, leaning on Frodo’s arm but still clutching her umbrella, that she was quite touched, and drove away in tears. She had never in her life been popular before.
Two moments that surely inspired the 60’s hippie counter-culture:
1. “Cast off these cold rags! Run naked on the grass, while Tom goes a-hunting!” … The hobbits ran about for a while on the grass, as he told them.
2. All that day they walked about in the woods with him, singing, and laughing; for Quickbeam often laughed. … Whenever he saw a rowan-tree he halted a while with his arms stretched out, and sang, and swayed as he sang.
Passage of utmost triumphant rapture:
And he sang to them, now in the Elven-tongue, now in the speech of the West, until their hearts, wounded with sweet words, overflowed, and their joy was like swords, and they passed in thought out to regions where pain and delight flow together and tears are the very wine of blessedness.
Line that always, always makes me weep uncontrollably:
There still he stood far into the night, hearing only the sigh and murmur of the waves on the shores of Middle-earth, and the sound of them sank deep into his heart.
* * * * * * * * * * * * *
Many of you certainly have your own take on what qualifies as the “most humorous,” “most shocking,” etc., and that’s fine too. This pursuit is a matter of taste, perhaps, but you cannot deny the foundation: Professor Tolkien showed his passion on every page, with every turn of phrase. Of his labors he wrote in a 1950 letter to Milton Waldman:
… It was begun in 1936, and every part has been written many times. Hardly a word in its 600,000 or more has been unconsidered. And the placing, size, style, and contribution to the whole of all the features, incidents, and chapters has been laboriously pondered.
No better insight can be given towards understanding the perfection of his tastes in authorship. Here is the major facet that most assuredly elevates him and his body of work. We, his eager readership, are indeed blessed with his remarkable and thoroughly romantic word craft.
Much too hasty,
Follow Cliff “Quickbeam” Broadway on Twitter: @quickbeam2000
This article was first published on August 8th 2000 in Green Books. In an effort to introduce new Tolkien fans to our nearly 14 years of archived content, we will be publishing articles like this on a regular basis. We hope you enjoy it!
Posted in Green Books, Hobbit Book, J.R.R. Tolkien, Lord of the Rings, LotR Books, Out on a Limb, The Hobbit, Tolkien