124 years ago today, on January 3, 1892, John Ronald Reuel Tolkien was born in Bloemfontein Africa. Forty-five years later, in 1937, his book The Hobbit, was published which he had written for his children. Together with its sequel, The Lord of the Rings, it launched generations of readers on adventures through the invented world of Middle-earth that would impact many of us for the rest of our lives.
Today, we here at TORn join millions of fans worldwide in celebrating Tolkien’s birthday. On this day, you might read a favorite passage or two from Tolkien’s writings or, like many of our message board members, you might even be in the midst of your annual read-through of The Hobbit and/or The Lord of the Rings.
Many fans will be gathering at local pubs with fellow member of the Tolkien Society to raise a glass to: “The Professor!” If you’d like to learn more about the annual January third tradition, or even find a local gathering near you, visit the Tolkien Society’s Tolkien Birthday Toast 2016 page here.
However you decide to celebrate, join us in wishing a happy birthday to “The Professor,” who’s life’s work has come to mean so much to us. Happy birthday, J.R.R. Tolkien!
Our friend, C.E. High, has penned another interesting article about Tolkien’s special hidden realms. From Gondolin to Doriath, Part One explores the hidden realms of the First Age. Enjoy!
J.R.R. Tolkien had a fascination with hidden kingdoms and cities. As one reads through his works they can be seen everywhere, throughout the ages and in a variety of forms. Many things these hidden realms have in common and all have their own symbolism; many are bastions of hope against an ever present dark foe, others are places that are ignorant of any darkness and simply exist in bliss and wonder and are overlooked. Some are tucked away in a valley or at the base of a mountain range; while others are deep in dense and impenetrable forests either with natural or supernatural defenses. Some are carved straight out of the stone or delved deep into the earth, and others…well a few even existed right out in the open.
Tolkien’s love of things being tucked away and only talked about in rumor or in private circles is fascinating. He wove it into almost all of his stories and made the reader feel like they were in on a secret that no one else was. Almost everything that was hidden for Tolkien was noble and good; by contrast everything that was evil was right out in the open. Tolkien made a situation where evil was ever present and out in plain sight, things that were good needed to be kept hid and held onto tightly; and many of his stories involved characters whose actions were motivated by wanting to save or destroy these precious hidden things.
A discussion of The Two Towers began this week in TheOneRing.net’s “Reading Room” forum. If you’ve been doing your annual re-read of The Lord of the Rings, or if you’re overdue for a re-read, join fellow fans in debating the finer points about Rohan, Saruman and Treebeard! Best of all, there are still a few chapters open for discussion leaders. If you’re interested in leading a discussion, go to the sign up thread here. Here’s more information from organizer noWizardme:
Starting next week in the Reading Room, we’re discussing The Two Towers. Everyone is welcome to join, whether you’re read it many times, or want to start reading now for the first time. How it works is that we have a volunteer ‘Chapter Leader’ for each week. He or she posts an initial post (thoughts, questions) to get the discussion started. Then discussion takes off in any and all directions. You are almost certain to get a new insight into the chapter, how ever many times you’ve read it yourself.
We work through a chapter a week. The full schedule for the exercise is given in my tasteful 1980s retro footer… (and there are still a few vacant slots for chapter leaders if anyone wants to volunteer). There are absolutely no ‘entry requirements’ to join in, beyond having read the chapter we’re discussing and ideally having some form of opinion, question or comment to contribute.
Saruman the White by John Howe.
We each of us imagine Middle-earth inside our heads, based on when and how we read the book & what we understand from it. Also, what else we’ve read (or watched, played, written…) and what our own real-life experiences have been. So any reader might have something interesting to say. I find other peoples’ Middle-earths endlessly fascinating. So watch the Reading Room from early next week – hope to see you there!
Come one, come all to TORn’s Annual Baggins Birthday Bash, held in the Mineral Wells section of Griffith Park this coming Sunday, starting at noon. This is a potluck event, so bring your own beverages, munchies or sweets, and consider sunscreen and hats for the heat. Please do RSVP for the Baggins Birthday Bash by emailing garfeimao@TheOnering.net or head over to our Facebook event page where you will get an idea of what others are bringing, and what you might want to contribute. TORn staffers will be hosting a variety of fun and games, with a few prizes thrown in for good measure, here is a tentative schedule of events.
12pm – Official Start (arrive a little early if brining a pop up tent or tables)
12:30pm – Silmarillian discussion with TORn Bookclub host Sarumann
1:30pm – Middle-earth Cake and Cupcake contest judging begins
2pm – Middle-earth Trivia
2:45pm – Middle-earth Quotes contest (brush up on both book and film quotes)
3:30pm – Pin the Black Arrow on the Dragon
4pm – Golfimbul
For directions, here is a map of the Park, just work your way towards the Mineral Wells location. Griffith Park Map
Update: Accidentally posted Sept. 27, the event will be this weekend, Sunday, September 20.
George R.R. Martin, writer with a series of #1 bestellers, a hit HBO show and a measure of celebrity few writers ever achieve, has given a pretty substantial signal about the how the tone of his series “A Song of Ice and Fire,” will end and he credits J.R.R. Tolkien. Martin has long praised Tolkien and credited him with influencing him and most every other fantasy writer.
“I’ve said before that the tone of the ending that I’m going for is bittersweet. I mean, it’s no secret that Tolkien has been a huge influence on me, and I love the way he ended Lord of the Rings. It ends with victory, but it’s a bittersweet victory.”
Martin also talked about the golden age of television and mentioned some great shows that not everybody is watching, but he wasn’t done with praising Tolkien.
“Frodo is never whole again,” he said.
Martin is of course known for writing giant volumes and killing favorite characters. The joke goes that Martin isn’t on Twitter because he already killed 140 characters and the fear is that by the end of the final book, Martin may write something of an apocalypse, which is why his Tolkien comparisons are so welcome for fans.
But he also praised a portion of Tolkien’s writings that filmmaker Peter Jackson left out of his movies, save for a brief glimpse as part of another scene. Martin loves the Scouring of the Shire chapter.
“And the scouring of the Shire—brilliant piece of work, which I didn’t understand when I was 13 years old: “Why is this here? The story’s over?” But every time I read it I understand the brilliance of that segment more and more. All I can say is that’s the kind of tone I will be aiming for.”
Martin is writing the sixth book in his series, “The Winds of Winter.”
San Diego Comic Con 2015 is now in the books, let’s do a little recap for any all things related to Tolkien fandom and TORn. The TORn panel, titled “What’s next for Tolkien Fans?” was on Friday afternoon, and directly after the panel we had our annual Tolkien themed Cosplay photo Op, as seen in the first photo.
The panel itself began at 4pm, but without the snazzy little visual presentation we normally have. The laptop that the presentation was on, and had been operating just 2 hours earlier, decided it was taking the afternoon off. Apparently it helped the panel move along at a quicker pace, leaving plenty of room for questions at the end. So, what was discussed in the panel, what IS next for Tolkien fans? (more…)
What’s Next for Tolkien Fans
From cast and crew interviews to having a staffer assigned as an embedded reporter on set, TheOneRing.net has had a front row seat these past 16 years as Peter Jackson’s Middle-Earth films were created. Now that all the films have been released, the only thing remaining for fans is the extended edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of Five Armies and rumors of possible Tolkien biopics on the horizon. Join staffers Cathy Udovch (special events coordinator), Clifford Broadway (TORn tuesday), Josh Rubinstein (TORn bookclub), Kellie Rice (Happy Hobbit), and Larry Curtis (senior staff writer) for an in-depth discussion full of expert analysis, behind-the-scenes stories and audience participation with the website forged by and for fans of J. R. R. Tolkien. Friday July 10, 2015 4:00pm – 5:00pm Room 25ABC
The 2015 edition of San Diego Comic Con is coming up in just 3 short weeks, and TheOneRing.net will be there. We will not have a booth this year, but we will be hosting a panel on Friday afternoon, July 10, called “What’s next for Tolkien Fans”. We just can’t give any further details until the official schedule is posted next week.Please do plan to wear your Tolkien finery on Friday if you are able. That means costumes, TORn shirts, whatever you have that shows your affinity for all things Middle-earth. Since this may well be TORn’s final big appearance at SDCC (we won’t know until next year if they will invite us back), so let’s go out in style. There will be a mass photo of fans in TORn shirts or other Tolkien themed tees, Hobbits, Elves, Dwarves and other denizens of Middle-earth, directly after the panel out on the front steps between Ballroom 20 and the Sails Pavillion. You will have to take the escalators to the ground floor in order to exit to get to the front steps, but this will allow any non-ticket holders to participate. So do plan to represent Middle-earth and we’ll see you on Friday, July 10, Costumes or geeky shirts are equally welcome, this photo event will take place between 5:15pm and 5:30pm.
There will also be a TORn Moot that Friday evening, but instead of the Laketown Luau we had last year, which forced us to charge money to attend, we decided to go a little more casual. So, without further ado, all Tolkien fans attending SDCC and those locals that are not attending are invited to an ‘Ice Cream Social’ at the Ghirardelli Ice Cream and Chocolate Shop in the Gaslamp District, located at 643 5th ave. We’ll begin at 7:30pm, giving everyone time to make it into the Gaslamp District after the hall closes, and run till 10pm.You can RSVP at our Facebook Event page for “We’re Taking the Hobbits to IceCreamGard”
Now here’s the rub, Ghirardelli does not take reservations, so everyone will just have to show up, grab whatever chair or table is available, and eat their yummy goodness. We may end up scattered about the place, but that’s OK, we are all Tolkien fans and we can socialize with the best of them. The shop is always rather popular and busy, the turn over is pretty quick, so just show up and have some fun with your fellow Tolkien fans, and there may even be a few prizes to win.
Discussion Forum member Ethel Duath recently posted a link to an article on slate.com regarding a simple answer to a simple question: why is The Lord of the Rings considered such a classic? Did I say a simple? Ernest W. Adams, who answered the question on Quora, considered it to be J.R.R. Tolkien’s development of languages and back-story for Middle-earth and each of its races. A great answer! But, is it that simple? No doubt we each have our opinions on the best answer, or answers, to that question. Why do you think The Lord of the Rings is such a classic? Let us know in the article comments and/or weigh in on our poll. While you’re thinking about it, check out Mr. Adams’ reasoning in the slate.com article here.
There’s always a great deal of amusement and comic humour to be derived from the Eagle-sized problem in The Lord of the Rings.
But as even newbie Tolkien readers understand: Eagles — they’re not a taxi service.
Of course, Tolkien himself was well-aware of the potential of Eagles to derail suspension of disbelief. Here, Benita J. Prins outlines just a few reasons why “one does not simply fly into Mordor”. (For a slightly different, but related, “you must earn your happy ending” perspective, I also recommend this feature by Gibbelins over on io9.)
TORn is looking to host another Laketown Luau during San Diego Comic Con in July. In fact, we may well make this an annual event so that Tolkien fans can stay connected at one of the biggest Pop Culture events in the world. But we’d like to ask you, the readers, if this is something that would really interest you.
The Laketown Luau is a mashup event with both a Tolkien theme and a Luau theme mixed together, resulting in costumed hula contests, Pin the Black Arrow on the Dragon games and lots of fun and fellowship. The advantage of holding the event during San Diego Comic Con is that Tolkien fans attending the convention from all over the world will be in town that week and can attend. Even better, holding the event off-site means that non-attendee fans from So Cal can also attend the party.
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.
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