This month, J.W. looks at The Hobbit Storybook and gives away a Tolkien Encyclopedia in a contest. Meanwhile in his mailbag section below, he shares a riddle, talks about multi-headed trolls, and explains why The Return of the King DVDs were released both early and late.

J.W. Braun’s Mailbag:

Can you share any riddles in the style of The Hobbit? – Mike

Sure. This thing runs but cannot walk, sometimes sings but never talks. Lacks arms, has hands. Lacks a head but has a face. What is it? (The answer appears at the end of this section) – JW

What is the name of the song at the end of your review of The Atlas of Middle-earth? – Theo

Ghan-Buri-Ghan by the Rifftones – JW

In chapter 2 if The Hobbit, Tolkien indicated that some trolls have more than one head. Were there any of these trolls in Tolkien’s other books? – Tonya

No. The reference simply pays homage to older fairy stories where trolls with more than one head are common.- JW

Why was The Return of the King theatrical DVD set released so early and the Extended DVD set released so late – compared to The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers counterparts? – Walt

New Line Cinema thought it was important for the theatrical DVD sets for The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers to each include a ten minute preview for their sequels (The Two Towers and The Return of the King, respectively). These previews were not available until July, which pushed their DVD releases to August, which is a big shopping month due to back to school sales. For The Return of the King theatrical DVD set, there was no sequel to promote, and so the set was ready to be released at an earlier time (May, another historically good shopping sales month.)

The Return of the King extended edition, on the other handed, ran into some bad luck. When the extended editions for The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers were put together in 2002 and 2003, the cast and crew were in New Zealand at various times for pickup shots and post production for the upcoming Two Towers and Return of the King films, and this made it easy to get them in the studio for commentaries and interviews. In 2004 when the extended edition of The Return of the King was put together, the cast and crew were spread all over the world working on other projects, and it wasn’t easy to gain access to them. Also, with the extended editions of the first two films, it was a race against the clock, since they had to get them out before the theatrical release of the next film; but with the extended edition of The Return of the King, there wasn’t the same urgency. So there was a delay, although they still got it out (barely) before Christmas to take advantage of the most lucrative shopping window of the year. – JW

(The answer to the riddle: A clock)

J.W. Braun is a Tolkien scholar and author of The Lord of the Films, published by ECW Press in 2009. If you have a question for him, simply drop him a line at

You can find out more about J.W. at