While fans of basketball were enjoying a Duke victory in the NCAA men’s college basketball tournament, Middle-earth fans were preparing for the epic final of Middle-earth March Madness: Gandalf vs. Bilbo Baggins! This year we decided to keep the poll results hidden to heighten the suspense. I must admit, I took full advantage of my special access to watch the results intently. When we first opened the battle, Bilbo took an early (hobbit-sized) lead of only 1%. Over the next 48 hours, the combatants exchanged that lead nearly every hour. It was a neck and neck competition that only revealed a clear winner in the last 12 hours.
We closely watched for voter fraud and we are pleased to report that no over-voting was recorded. Each vote had a unique IP. So without further delay, we are pleased to announce that the 2015 Middle-earth March Madness Champion is….
This is it! The Finals are set! An epic battle of historic proporations! In one corner we have Gandalf, the Istar responsible for helping save the fate of all Middle-earth. In the other, Bilbo Baggins, the Hobbit who would successfully weild and then, more importantly, pass on the most powerful object in Middle-earth, The One Ring.
Since this is the finals, we are not going to share the results until the contest is complete. So you will NOT see a percentage of votes when you cast your own vote. Don’t fret, the committee will be monitoring the competition behind the scenes.
Middle-earth March Madness has been touched by scandal! When we tallied the votes in our Elite Eight round-up last night, we noticed the votes in The Hobbit division were suspciously more than those of the other divisions. While yes, certain match-ups spur passionate participation, the numbers on this particular match-up were significantly different. So we dug a little bit deeper. As it turns out, one person managed to bypass the system and vote 2300 times!
As the commissioner of Middle-earth March Madness, I took it upon myself to resolve the issue. I converted those 2300 votes to 1 vote. I also reviewed any other multiple votes and converted those to a single vote. As a result, the winner of The Hobbit division for 2015 is…. Bilbo!
So we have our Final Four!
The Silmarillion division winner is, not too surprisingly, the creator of all existence, Eru Ilúvatar. Eru will face off against Bilbo Baggins, fresh off an attempt to wipe him out of this entire tournament!
Coming out of The Lord of the Rings, non other than Gandalf! Can he easy sweep past The Others division winner, Hurin? Or will Hurin pull off the biggest upset of the year!
Stay tuned and vote!
Voting in this round will remain open until April 6th at 10pm ET. And oh yes, you can count us keeping a close eye on any potential cheaters out there!
No April Fools here folks! We’ve reached the Elite Eight in our 2015 Middle-earth March Madness! This round will determine who will represent each division!
Because today is April 1st, and there are a slew of April Fool’s jokes out there, we’re going to just get right too it! Can (4) Bilbo take out the tournament Cinderella, (11) Thranduil? Can (14) Elrond really take out (5) Gandalf?
Forum member Otaku-sempai has submitted an informative, in-depth analysis of how the time-line of Aragorn’s life was changed and condensed as presented in The Lord of the Rings movies, and alluded to in “The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies.” Enjoy this well-researched article!
A Speculative History Of Aragorn II In Peter Jackson’s Middle-earth – by Otaku-sempai
The words of the Elvenking Thranduil to his son Legolas at the end of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies concerning the young Dúnadan Ranger called Strider confirms the long-held assertion that Peter Jackson substantially altered the timeline of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings in his film adaptation by all but eliminating the seventeen-year gap between Bilbo Baggins’ one hundred eleventh birthday and Frodo’s departure from the Shire. Rather than a young boy being fostered secretly in Rivendell by Lord Elrond, Aragorn son of Arathorn is a young adult abroad in the world. How old is he at this time? How far along is he on his journey of exploration and self-discovery? Where does Aragorn go from here? We can answer these questions, but we have to make some assumptions in the process.
Can we determine Aragorn’s age? First we must determine the years of the War of the Ring within Jackson’s film trilogy. In the extended edition of “The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey” we are given the exact date of Bilbo’s eleventy-first birthday: The twenty-second of September in the year three thousand of the Third Age. According to Professor Tolkien, Bilbo chose this date to leave the Shire because it was also the thirty-third birthday and coming-of-age of his nephew (really cousin) and heir Frodo Baggins.
In the commentary track with Jackson, Fran Walsh and Philippa Boyens, the director and writers discuss the shortened time-frame of the film, suggesting that as little as a few months pass before Frodo and Sam leave Bag End for Rivendell rather than the seventeen years indicated by Tolkien. We see in the film that Gandalf the Wizard leaves Bag End to investigate Bilbo’s Ring, traveling to Minas Tirith in Gondor and (presumably) tracking down and questioning the creature Gollum in his investigation before returning to Hobbiton and advising Frodo to go to Rivendell. All this must have taken a significant amount of time, at least one year as Frodo is able to leave home and awaken in the house of Elrond on the date of 24 October (as told to him by Gandalf).
We know that not very much more than a year or so passes before Frodo leaves the Shire because of the ages of his companions Sam, Merry and Pippin. In Appendix D of The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien provides the birth-years of Frodo (9268), his cousins Meriadoc Brandybuck (2982) and Peregrin Took (2990), and Samwise Gamgee (2980), showing that the latter three were all either children or adolescents by Hobbit standards at the time of Bilbo’s birthday party (the year 3001 in Tolkien’s legendarium). Peter Jackson ages them up so that all three are now Frodo’s contemporaries in age. This gives us a likely year of 3001 for Frodo’s arrival in Rivendell and the Council of Elrond. If the films roughly follow the same chronology as the books in terms of months and days then the Company of the Ring should leave Rivendell on or near 25 December, 3001.
So, when was Aragorn born?
In the extended edition of The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers, Aragorn reveals to Éowyn, niece of King Théoden of Rohan, that he is eighty-seven years old; she realizes that he appears much younger because he must be one of the Dúnedain descended from the Men of Númenor. This should be (again if the dates in the books and films are congruent) a day or so after Aragorn’s birthday (1 March) which, according to Tolkien, is when Aragorn, Legolas and Gimli met Gandalf the White.
If Aragorn turned eighty-seven years old in 3002, his day of birth would have been 1 March, 2915 (or no earlier than 2914 if the scene between Aragorn and Éowyn took place prior to 1 March). His true name and heritage would have been revealed to him by Elrond in 2935 (or 2934), just before his first encounter with Elrond’s daughter Arwen. At the time of the Quest of Erebor (the year 2940 in the film-continuity) Aragorn’s age would have been twenty-five (or possibly twenty-six). To simplify things, let us assume that the months and days during the War of the Ring (although not the years) match up between the books and the films, and that Aragorn turned twenty-five in the year of Bilbo’s great adventure.
What happens, and when?
So, how does this affect the rest of Aragorn’s story? It changes the timelines of other characters: Arathorn II and Gilraen, Aragorn’s parents; King Thengel of Rohan and his descendants; Éowyn and her brother; Ecthelion II the twenty-fifth Ruling Steward of Gondor; Ecthelion’s son Denethor; and Denethor’s sons Boromir and Faramir; among others.
Aragorn acquires his nickname of Strider sometime soon after he goes into the wild, possibly in Bree. At some point before the Battle of Five Armies, he comes to the notice of Thranduil of the Woodland Realm who also learns of his true identity. Either Aragorn does not meet Gandalf until after the Quest of Erebor and the Battle of Five Armies or the Wizard does not wish to risk the heir of Isildur against the dragon Smaug nor against the Necromancer.
The great journeys and errantries of Aragorn probably begin in the year 2941, his twenty-sixth year, and likely culminate in 2964, this becoming the year of his victorious raid as Thorongil upon the Corsairs of Umbar and his reunion with Arwen in Lothlórien where the couple plighted their troth upon Cerin Amroth. This would be the period in which Aragorn as Thorongil distinguishes himself in service to both King Thengel of Rohan and Ecthelion II in Gondor. He likely had several other adventures, both alone and with Gandalf the Grey.
The years after this, leading up to the Great Years of the War of the Ring, might be when Aragorn journeyed to the distant regions of the East and South, “exploring the hearts of Men, both good and evil,” as Tolkien wrote, “and uncovering the plots and devices of the servants of Sauron.” Gilraen, Aragorn’s mother, would return to her own people during this time and pass away sometime around the year 2990. The Hunt for Gollum must have been much shorter, having quickly come to a successful conclusion, or did not take place at all as it written by Tolkien; there is nothing in the films to indicate that a captured Gollum was ever taken to the Woodland Realm, much less that he escaped from there–only that Gandalf somehow located and interviewed him with or without the help of Aragorn.
Great journeys and errantries
The period of what Tolkien called Aragorn’s “great journeys and errantries” might be greatly affected by the Peter Jackson film series. In the legendarium it lasted from 2957 to 2980 and Aragorn as Thorongil might have spent most or all of that period in Rohan and Gondor. Saruman the White did not turn against Rohan until after he was given permanent possession of Isengard in 2953. This probably does not change in the film-continuity since Saruman is still considered to be good at the time of the Quest of Erebor when the White Council drives the Necromancer and his servants from Dol Guldur.
It is possible that Aragorn began his explorations of the East and or South before the beginning of his service to Rohan. Alternately, he might have remained in the regions of Eriador and Rhovanion both as a companion of Gandalf and on his own during that time. In film-terms, the journeys and errantries of Aragorn could have begun at any time between 2941 and 2957 and might have ended as early as 2964 or as late as 2980. However, I am inclined towards the earlier dates.
Aragorn most likely came to Rohan after 2953 when Orcs and Dunlendings began harassing the Rohirrim and making trouble along the borders of Fangorn. Saruman was then pretending to still be a friend to Rohan even while secretly supporting its enemies. Tolkien wrote little of this period except to say that, as Thorongil, Aragorn rode with the host of the Rohirrim in defense of their lands.
After taking his leave of King Thengel, Aragorn (still as Thorongil) traveled to Gondor and gave his services to Ectheilion II, the twenty-fifth Ruling Steward. He accrued great renown in Gondor and became seen as a great leader of men. He also became Ecthelion’s most loved and trusted advisor, supporting the counsels of Gandalf and warning the Steward against accepting the aid of Saruman. In this a foresight might have been upon him as the treachery of Saruman was as yet unknown. Denethor II, the son of Ecthelion, considered Thorongil to be a rival for his father’s attention and might have guessed at his true identity, fearing that Gandalf was plotting with the Dúnadan to supplant him.
In Aragorn’s last year of service to Ecthelion he led a successful raid on the Corsairs of Umbar, destroying a large part of their fleet. Then, setting his eyes on the Mountains of Shadow, he took leave of the Steward of Gondor and traveled east. After spending some weeks or months within the borders of Mordor, Arargorn was allowed to enter Lothlórien and was reunited with Arwen.
After the War of the Ring
The events of the War of the Ring are known and accounted for in the films, with the new elements of Aragorn’s self-doubt, and initial reluctance to seek after the Kingship of Gondor. After the Fall of Sauron, events presumably proceeded much as they did in Tolkien’s legendarium with Aragorn having been crowned as King Elessar of the Reunited Kingdom, wedding Arwen who has given up her immortality for her love, siring with her several children including their son Eldarion and at least two daughters, and ruling over Gondor and Arnor until his passing in the one hundred twentieth year of the Fourth Age.
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We are down to the Sweet Sixteen as the chase to crown the 2015 Middle-earth March Madness champion continues!
Look for special analysis of the match-ups in this round coming soon!
But what about you? Have any strong opinions about this round? Send us a report and it just may make it to the homepage of TheOneRing.net! Email firstname.lastname@example.org with your display name and a small bio, and article.
Yesterday, March 25, was officially Tolkien Reading Day. Celebrated annually by the Tolkien Society since 2003, Reading Day is exactly what it sounds like: a day “to encourage fans to celebrate and promote the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien by reading favourite passages.” March 25th was chosen to commemorate the day in Middle-earth history of the destruction of the One Ring and the downfall of Sauron, but events are often held throughout the week surrounding the official date.
The theme for this year’s Reading Day is Friendship, chosen not only to commemorate how Frodo and Sam’s friendship triumphed in Mordor, but also to “celebrate the deep friendships that Tolkien developed in his own life and in his work.” By extension, a shared love of Tolkien’s work has inspired countless friendships, traversing continents and oceans. So share your love of Tolkien by joining a Reading Day event, or simply sharing your favorite passage with a friend!
Round 1 is in the history books, as Middle-earth March Madness continues to capture the attention of Tolkien fans worldwide! In our first round, we had over 190,000 total votes cast, with the most contentious match-ups recieving nearly 10,000 votes! Voting for Round 2 starts now! (Vote below).
Round 1 didn’t have many close match-ups, but there were definitely a few surprises.
The most contraversial seems to be (11) Thranduil taking down (6) Thorin Oakenshield in The Hobbit division. As the 2014 Middle-earth March Madness champion, Thranduil seems to have a dedicated and loyal following that should help him through his next match-up with (3) Beorn. (Or will fan backlash against those Thranduites push Beorn through?!)
In The Lord of the RIngs division, (8) Arwen was able to take down The Dark Lord himself, (9) Sauron. Will she make it past (1) Galadriel to possible match-up against (4) Aragorn?!
In The Others division, (2) Father Christmas was knocked off by (15) Legolas of Gondolin, obviously taking advantage of the name recognition of another famous Elf.
There are a lot of intriguing match-ups in round 2, which I’m sure some TORn staffer will highlight in an article this week. Maybe you want to highlight your favorite match-ups in this round? Submit an article to email@example.com with your display name and a small bio, and we’ll see if we can post it!
The 2015 edition of Middle-earth Madness officially starts today! We’ve split our field of 64 characters and objects into four divisions: The Silmarillion,The Hobbit,The Lord of the Rings and The Others.
This is a brand new format for the competition this year – implemented to encourage interesting match-ups, intriquging final four and ultimately education on the breadth of works from our favorite author, J.R.R. Tolkien.
A note on how the bracket combatants were determined. TheOneRing.net created a document containing all combatants, sub divided into divisions. We asked staff to cast sixteen votes per division, with the votes having a weight of 1-4. Each staffer cast four 4 votes, four 3 votes, four 2 votes and four 1 votes in each division. We then totalled all the votes from each division to determine their rank, and ultimately placed those into our bracket for seeding.
As you can imagine, our staff is diverse and the results were very interesting! What was very exciting when creating the bracket was the realization that we have some amazing and story related match-ups in this first round.
Voting in Round 1 will remain open until March 21st at 10pm ET. At that point, we’ll calculate the winners and post the next round on March 22nd. Follow after the break for a complete bracket image (download it), and to vote on all of our Round 1 match-ups! [Round 1 Bracket] (more…)
Yes folks, Middle-earth March Madness is back for 2015! If you are new to TheOneRing.net, Middle-earth March Madness is our adaptation on the popular NCAA Basketball tournament that takes place every March/April in the United State. It is our chance to have some fun matching up middle-earth power players against each other. Past winners include Samwise Gamgee,Gandalf, Thranduil.
Based on feedback from our past years, we are switching things up a bit to include the entirety of J.R.R. Tolkien’s works. So in reality, this could be called J.R.R. Tolkien March Madness!
This year, our four divisions will be representative of a book (or series of books):
The Lord of the Rings
Other Works (Lost Tales, Father Christmas, Children of Hurin, etc)
This allows each division to crown a champion for each book, and then they all face off against each other in the final four!
Our staff are sorting out the field of 64 combatants now, and we’ll be posting the first bracket and polls very soon. Stay tuned to the front-page of TORn for the announcement to start voting, and follow along on Twitter and FB with #middleearthmarchmadness @theoneringnet
I think it’s a given that 90% of all online quizzes are just rubbish. Which is why I was really surprised to stumble upon this great Buzzfeed Middle-earth quiz that will may actually stretch your Middle-earth knowledge. (more…)
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