I recently visited “Tolkien – Maker of Middle-earth”, an exhibit at the Morgan Library and Museum in New York City, which runs through May 12. The exhibit is the most extensive display of original Tolkien material gathered in one place for several generations. It includes pieces from The Morgan, The Bodlein Library archive at Oxford University, the Marquette University Libraries in Milwaukee, and private lenders. It takes you on a journey through the life of John Ronald Reuel Tolkien (or as we know him – J.R.R.) with photos, letters, text, and Tolkien’s own work. For me, it was a truly awe-filled and emotional experience.
To enter the exhibit, you walk through the round green door of Bag End to behold a wall-sized mural of Tolkien’s painting of Hobbiton. There are other murals throughout the exhibit, and it is cool to see his work so large because things that are usually seen as tiny details are suddenly more apparent, and you are drawn in to the landscape. But the real attraction of the exhibit is Tolkien’s actual work.
On display is an extensive selection of his original drawings, paintings and hand-written manuscripts. I can’t possibly describe in words what it is like to stand in front of the original hand-painted dust jacket for “The Hobbit”, replete with Tolkien’s handwritten comments in the margins; to view “Conversations with Smaug” so closely that you can see J.R.R’s brushstrokes; to revel in the light of “The Forest of Lothlorien in Spring.” One of my personal favorites is “Bilbo Comes to the Huts of the Raft Elves”, the image chosen for the exhibition’s catalog cover. If you can’t make it to the museum, I highly recommend this book with the same title as the exhibit. It is available online and includes full color images of every piece in the exhibit along with the accompanying text.
There are early sketches for The Doors of Durin, which were a special treat for me because I recently painted a life-sized version of the West-Gate of Moria (Speak “Friend” and Enter) at Scum and Villainy Cantina in Hollywood, where Torn Tuesday is broadcast from. There are even pages Tolkien created to look like they were from The Book of Mazarbul – the book that the Fellowship finds besides Balin’s tomb – hand-calligraphed, painted, torn and burnt. Tolkien the artist could have found himself a place on the team at WETA.
There were many manuscript pages filled with Tolkien’s tight, flourishy handwriting, written first in pencil, then erased and crossed-out, then written over in ink. It’s amazing to me that these were able to be deciphered and included in the books.
There were quite a few different, and often large, hand-drawn maps of Middle-earth; original book jackets for LotR; some of the charming drawings and letters from Father Christmas that Tolkien sent to his children. And there were illustrations I’d never seen before – beautiful pieces expressing Tolkien’s vision of Fairy and his ideas about how creativity flows. There were even full-sized newspaper pages crammed with his colorful doodles, some quite Elven in style.
One thing that really struck me was a hand-calligraphed
letter that was meant to be reproduced and included at the end of the Lord of
the Rings, but unfortunately, the publishers nixed the idea. The letter was
from Aragorn to Master Samwise, letting Sam know the King would be stopping for
a visit outside the Shire. The letter has two versions side-by-side written in
Tengwar – one in Sindarin, the common tongue, and one in the high-Elven speech,
And there was mention of an epilogue for LotR that Tolkien wanted to write. In it Sam was to tell his family what happens to all the characters after the end of the Lord of the Rings. When I researched this further, I found a snippet of his intended conclusion, which appears in the ninth volume of “The History of Middle-earth”:
‘… said Elanor. “A story is quite
different, even when it is about what happened. I wish I could go back to old
of our sort often wish that,” said Sam. “You came at the end of a great age,
Elanor; but though it’s over… things don’t really end sharp like that… There
are still things for you to see, and maybe you’ll see them sooner than you
It makes me think Tolkien knew that his epic story would go on and on, even if he could never have imagined the film-making technology that would become available to make it happen.
I hope you have a chance to see the
exhibit, for it is truly incredible and a joy to behold.
Welcome to The Great Hall of Poets, our regular monthly feature showcasing the talent of Middle-earth fans. Each month we will feature a small selection of the poems submitted, but we hope you will read all of the poems that we have received here in our Great Hall of Poets.
So come and join us by the hearth and enjoy!
If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to email@example.com One poem per person may be submitted each month. Please make sure to proofread your work before sending it in. TheOneRing.net is not responsible for poems posting with spelling or grammatical errors.
The Walk to Bree
by David McG.
I met a wise old Hobbit on the winding path to Bree.
And as we strolled down woodland paths he began to sing to me.
He sang of high adventure, of friendship and of woe.
Of how he’d helped to save this world, many years ago.
The song it told a stirring tale as we seemed to float along.
Down ancient paths and long lost towns now living in his song.
He sang of safe security and days of endless fun.
And how that changed the fateful day his friends were forced to run.
From Hobbiton to Gondor’s halls his song it told the tale.
Of the greatest Hobbit who ever lived and a mission seemed doomed to fail.
The lifelong friends he came to make and those he’d come to lose.
And the terrible fate that haunted them all, and dark paths they had to chose.
The song unfolded a wondrous tale of his life spent in the Shire.
From farmers fields to Dragon’s Inn and feasting round a fire.
A long expected party, to honour a life long friend.
And the forming of a Fellowship, that stayed true to journey’s end.
He sang the tale of the Crownless King whose rule had long seemed lost.
A Captain who had saved them all, but paid a terrible cost
The mighty Ents, the Shepherds of Trees. White Wizard with a dark desire.
And a ring of gold that consumed all will, forged in a mountain of fire!
The pathway grew much darker as he sang of battles grand.
Hard fought by all the free folk assailed throughout the land.
The horrors at the Hornburg, Osgiliath overrun.
The last ride of the Rohirrim and the beating of the drum.
The Battle of the Pelennor, the fight to seal all fate.
The last march of all Free Folk to tear down the Dark Lord’s gate.
The shadows they all lifted and the sun shone brightly down.
Then a beaming smile lit the Hobbits face as we came into Bree town.
Into the Prancing Pony, a bustling, ancient Inn.
And he toasted as he raised his beer “Let adventure new begin!”
And there stood the ‘Citadel Guardian’ And there stood the ‘Fool of a Took!’ And there stood the ‘Defeater of Wizards’ As told in the Westmarch Red Book.
It’s Quarter Final time in Middle-earth Map March Madness 2019! 64 locations began this epic battle; now only 8 remain. Which are still with us?
News from The Shire which I personally find tragic: the Green Dragon Inn is out! Alas, the pub could only muster just over a quarter of the vote; Bag End looks like a hot favourite to go all the way in this contest. The Shire’s other pub, the Prancing Pony, is also out, beaten by Hobbiton.
In the Lord of the Rings section Minas Tirith easily conquered Fangorn Forest, once again securing a victory with almost three quarters of the vote. The other duel in this bracket was a tough one: Lothlorien vs Rivendell! How did YOU choose between those two elvish strongholds? In the end, it was Elrond who conquered Galadriel, with two thirds of the poll.
For the second round running, the closest face off in this round was to be found in the Hobbit bracket; this time Elrond was not victorious, as the Misty Mountains defeated the Last Homely House, but with only just over 1% in it! The Lonely Mountain had a more convincing win over Mirkwood, claiming almost 70% of the vote.
Finally, in the Silmarillion group Gondolin and Valinor are still cruising through, taking 86% and 85% respectively. Could one of these locations go on to be the overall winner?
Just one more round within brackets remains, and there are some tough choices to be made! Hobbiton takes on Bag End; Minas Tirith throws down with Rivendell; the mountains face off as Erebor challenges the Misty Mountains; and in perhaps the most epics of duels, Gondolin confront Valinor. Which locations will be triumphant, and move on to the semi finals? YOU DECIDE! Voting in Round 4 is open now, until 10pm EST on Sunday 31 March. Rally the troops for your favourites, and VOTE NOW on this post!
Wondercon kicks off in a few hours in Anaheim, California and J.R.R. Tolkien and TheOneRing.net will have a big presence this year. On Friday afternoon at 4:30pm, the panel for Tolkien, Fox Searchlight’s historical biopic about the early life of the author who would create Middle-earth will give numerous glimpses into the what the film has in store for audiences. The panel discussion will include Director Dome Karusoski, and actors Nicholas Hoult, Anthony Boyle, Tom Glynne-Carney and Patrick Gibson. The Panel will be moderated by our own Clifford “Quickbeam” Broadway, and will be in the Arena at the Anaheim Convention Center. More details can be found at the WonderCon sheduling page here.
On Saturday we will be having our own panel discussion at 3pm in room 213CD covering the Tolkien film, the Morgan Library exhibit in New York and all the activity regarding the Amazon Middle-earth TV Series. We will also have a very special surprise for attendees that you won’t want to miss. In fact, you should make plans to be occupied for the rest of the evening on Saturday. We can’t say much more, but if you have been paying attention to the internet chatter about Wondercon, you may know the surprise already. Just look for “There and Back Again: A Tolkien Store” at Wondercon and come visit us. Details can be found here.
Here we go – Middle-earth Map March Madness 2019 Round 3! We’re down to just 16 locations; let’s see which have made the cut:
Starting in The Shire, the closest contest was between the Party Tree and the Prancing Pony, with the pub taking two thirds of the vote. All of the other winning locations had over 80% in the polls; Hobbiton easily defeated Bree, and Bag End and the Green Dragon Inn are also going through. Now for some tough pairings! Can the Green Dragon beat Bag End? I’m keeping my fingers crossed…
The Lord of the Rings bracket saw Minas Tirith take three quarters of the vote to see off Helm’s Deep; clearly Rohan is no match for Gondor! The power of the elves was in evidence, as Lothlorien and Rivendell easily defeated Mount Doom and Moria respectively. And as one would expect, Fangorn Forest overthrew Isengard; the filth of Saruman is washing away… Now the ents must march to the white city; and we have an elvish smackdown! Who will be victorious when Rivendell takes on the heart of Elvendom on earth? YOU decide! Vote now!
The closest battle of Round 2 was in the Hobbit locations; the Misty Mountains ultimately vanquished Beorn’s House, but with only just over half the vote. Smaug’s Lair was conquered by its host, the Lonely Mountain; now Erebor faces Mirkwood, as that ‘tree infested’ area overcame Lake-town. Elves were winning in this bracket too, with the Last Homely House taking over 60% against Dale.
In the Silmarillion category the men of Numenor have been conquered by Gondolin, after putting up a brave fight but only being able to take 40% of the vote. The good guys are dominant in the rest of this category, with Doriath, the Halls of Mandos, and Valinor all cruising to victory, over Angband, Thangorodrim and Nargothrond. Valinor is definitely the location to beat in this bracket; can the Halls of Mandos put up a good fight in Round 3?
The biggest victor in this entire round was Bag End, so that seems to be the odds on favourite now. (Come on Green Dragon!!) The power is in YOUR hands, and voting in Round 3 closes at 10pm EST on Thursday 28 March: VOTE NOW! In this round you will be able to check the results as the polls unfold; so check back often to see how your favourites are doing, and to rally support around them if need be! [View Full Round 3 Bracket]
It seems a long time ago that we first let you know about Lootcrate’s exciting Lord of the Rings crates. At last they are nearly here! If you want to join the fun for the first of the three crates, you need to sign up by March 30, (though should you miss that deadline, you can still sign up later for the subsequent packages). Full information can be found on Lootcrate’s website.
The good folks at Lootcrate have given us an exclusive reveal of a premier item which will ship in the first crate! The beautiful, stoneware Prancing Pony stein (below) is 12.7cm tall and 10.5cm in diameter. It features the pub logo on a medallion on the front. It’s a really lovely, weighty item of high quality, which feels great in the hand, and will make you feel like you’re back in Bree enjoying a pint after a hard day’s work (if you’ve ever done a hard day’s work…) This gorgeous collectible is exclusive to Lootcrate, and is just one of the treasures you will receive in the first crate! You can only get this stein if you sign up for the first Lord of the Rings one time only, limited edition crate. You only have five more days to sign up; don’t delay!
Middle-earth Map March Round 2 is underway – and here’s how this round is unfolding thus far.
No location has a lead in the 90% zone; the biggest leaders are all in the 80s. They are Bag End, leading against the Brandywine Bridge by 88% to 12%; Lothlorien thrashing Mount Doom with a lead of 84%; and Bree is proving to be no match against Hobbiton, only managing to secure 14% of the vote. Valinor is also cruising to another easy victory, currently leading by 83% to 17% against Nargothrond.
It is of course the close battles which are most interesting. Right now the Misty Mountains are only 2% ahead of Beorn’s House, so that duel could go either way! Mirkwood is ahead of Lake-town, but by only 58% to 42% – so get over there and vote if you want to see Esgaroth turn that fight around. The margin between the Halls of Mandos and Angband is similar; Morgoth’s fortress is giving the home of elvish souls a run for its money, so far managing to claim 41% in the poll. Numenor likewise has 41% against Gondolin; if you’d like to see the men of the West pull out a victory against Turgon’s city, you’d better vote now!
In the match-up which actually replicates an event from the books, Fangorn Forest has business with Isengard… And so far, the result is as you would expect: Fangorn leading with two thirds of the vote.
Round 2 closes at 10pm EST tomorrow, Monday 25th. So don’t delay – only you can decide which locations go through to Round 3 of Middle-earth Map March Madness! VOTE NOW!
Middle-earth Map March Madness 2019 Round 2 is up! 64 locations went into battle in Round 1; now only 32 remain. Let’s take a look at some of the Round 1 results:
No surprises in The Shire location bracket. Bag End, Hobbiton and the Prancing Pony all won their bouts with 80% or more of the vote. Bree and Buckland were in the 70s for their victories (over Bywater and Crickhollow respectively). This staffer is especially pleased to report that the Green Dragon Inn is safely through; I am of course pulling for it to go all the way to ultimate victory!
Bucklebury Ferry is out, conquered by the Party Tree, with the voting split two thirds to one third; and Samwise will be sad to know that Bagshot Row is also gone, as it was unable to stand up to the Brandywine Bridge.
The Lord of the Rings bracket results were also largely as one might expect. Moria, Rivendell, Lothlorien, Fangorn Forest and Minas Tirith all sailed through with no problems. Isengard and Mount Doom had to fight a little harder, but in the end they conquered their opponents, Barad-dur and the Barrow Downs. (Alas, still no barrow wights making an appearance. Maybe we’ll get to see them in the Amazon series…?)
Perhaps the toughest fight in Round 1 of this bracket was Helm’s Deep vs Edoras. How to choose between those two?? In the end, it was Rohan’s stronghold which won the day, knocking out the Golden Hall, but with a margin of only 10%.
On to Hobbit locations, where the Lonely Mountain, Lake-town, Mirkwood, Dale, Beorn’s House, the Last Homely House and the Misty Mountains were all triumphant without really being put to the test. The only close battle in this category was between Smaug’s Lair and the Elvenking’s Halls. Thranduil is going home after just one round; the fire drake conquered in the end, though the margin was in single digits. And now Smaug’s Lair has to take on Erebor in Round 2; a conflict of interest, surely?!
Finally, the Silmarillion bracket saw some closer engagements than in the other groups. Nargothrond eventually overcame Menegroth, and Angband beat Vinyamar, but both contests were tight. Doriath, Thangorodrim, and the Halls of Mandos all won their duels with about two thirds of the vote. Wider margins were seen in the battle between Numenor and Tol Eressea; the island which caused so much excitement with its appearance on the Amazon series’ map is through, with almost 80% of the poll. The biggest victories in the entire first round were those of Valinor over Falas and Gondolin over Hithlum, with the winners both taking over 90%. (Remember, if you want to know more about any of the Silmarillion locations, you can read more here.)
So on to the second round! Will Hobbiton beat Bree? What will happen when Minas Tirith takes on Helm’s Deep? Can Gondolin defeat Numenor? And most importantly, is the Green Dragon on the way to the final prize? (Fingers crossed; no journalistic impartiality here!) YOU decide!
Voting in Round 2 closes at 10pm EST on Monday 25 March, so don’t delay: VOTE NOW!
Today is the last day to vote in Round 1 of Middle-earth Map March Madness! We’re using a slightly different voting format this year, and we realise that means you can’t see who’s winning the various polls as they unfold; so here’s some insight into Round 1 thus far…
The biggest leaders at the moment are Minas Tirith, beating Shelob’s Lair 92% to 8%; Valinor beating Falas by the same margin; and strongest of all, Gondolin is thrashing Hithlum, so far having 94% of the vote.
Readers may be surprised to know that the Brandywine Bridge is currently beating Bagshot Row, though there’s only 14% in it. Helm’s Deep is 12% ahead of Edoras, so get over there and vote if you don’t want the Golden Hall to go out in Round 1!
The closest fought battle right now is between Smaug’s Lair and the Elvenking’s Halls, with the fiery fellow currently beating Thranduil’s home by just 8%. Your vote could be the one which tips the balance!
Voting in Round 1 will close later today, so don’t delay! VOTE NOW! [Click here] Round 2 launches tomorrow!
Yes, we will be at Wondercon, but with a booth. We do, however, have a panel, and a surprise after the panel. Can’t talk about the surprise just yet, but keep reading for more details.
2019 is our 20th Anniversary, so we are lining up lots of Middle-earth and Tolkien fun throughout the year. Our Wondercon panel will be on Saturday afternoon, March 30 from 3pm to 4pm in room 213CD. The plan is to cover both the upcoming Tolkien biopic film and to discuss the facts and rumors surrounding the Amazon Prime TV series. We will have some other Tolkien news too, so don’t miss our panel or you will miss out on the surprise. Mathom or Moot, we must “Keep it Secret, Keep it Safe”, for now at least.
You can check out more details on our event page on facebook, which is the only place we will be updating with any additional information we are allowed to share. You can find our Wondercon Panel here. Our event page does link back to the Wondercon Schedule, which is important so you can check out the schedule for Friday afternoon at 4:30pm in the Arena for Fox Searchlight’s film Tolkien, with cast and crew members in attendance.
It’s been a while since we’ve had this much Tolkien to talk about, come have some Hobbity fun with us.
Middle-earth Map March Madness 2019 launched yesterday! As you know by now, the four brackets for this year contain different locations from Tolkien’s world. We’re aware that for some readers, the Silmarillion locations may be less familiar than others; so should you need a little guidance, here’s our handy summary of Silmarillion sites (with thanks to staffer Joel):
Gondolin – The hidden city of the elves, surrounded by mountains, founded by King Turgon. The tragic and spectacular fall of this city was one of Tolkien’s earliest writings of Middle-earth.
Valinor – The blessed home of the Valar and Maiar, the greater and lesser angels of Tolkien’s legendarium. The elves were invited by the Valar to live with them in this land, but only some answered their call.
Angband – The many-dungeoned fortress of Morgoth, the great enemy of all that is good in Middle-earth. Sauron was but a servant of Morgoth. This fortress was captured by the Valar in an early defeat of Morgoth, but they failed to destroy it utterly, allowing it to be repopulated over time.
Thangorodrim – A trio of oppressively tall mountains, raised by Morgoth above Angband, to protect the latter. It was destroyed at the end of the first age in the War of Wrath.
Doriath – A forested land near the center of the lands that are part of the story of Middle-earth’s first age. Luthien is from here, daughter to Thingol, the elf, and Melian, the angel. Melian wove a misty wall of secrecy about the kingdom, known as the ‘girdle of Melian.’
Halls of Mandos – The souls of dead elves and humans reside here, kept separate from each other for no good reason other than ‘that’s how it’s supposed to be’. Elves linger in the halls until they are ready to be housed in a new body; the souls of men will not linger here and go elsewhere, to a location not known to the Valar or elves, and only guessed at by humans.
Nargothrond – A hidden underground elvish fortress ruled by Finrod. It was a place that had regular interaction between the races of Middle-earth: between the elves who lived there, the men Beren and Turin, who visited there and encouraged its people to fight Morgoth, the dwarves who helped expand its halls, and even the great dragon Glaurung!
Numenor – A star-shaped large island, raised from the ocean by the deity of Tolkien’s stories, Illuvatar, as a gift to the humans who helped fight Morgoth in the First Age. Mighty were its people, and mighty was the envy of it and hatred for its people by Sauron, who was slowly regaining his strength as the Numenorian people began conquering the lands on the Western shores of Middle-earth.
Tol Eressea – An island, near the shores of Valinor, that was home to many of the elves of Middle-earth who answered the call of the Valar to leave their homes for the Blessed Realm of Valinor. Like a giant pontoon, it was ferried back and forth between Middle-earth and Valinor to transport the elves who, at that early time, had not learned how to build ships.
Menegroth – Yet another underground elven fortress (so much for elves being forest creatures loving to sleep under the stars!) – this time the home of Thingol and Melian in their realm of Doriath.
Belegost – Along with Nogrod, one of two fortresses of the dwarves in the Blue Mountains, to the east of Beleriand, the land of Middle-earth with which the Silmarillion is concerned. After the War of Wrath, the Blue Mountains, just west of the Shire, were the only geographic feature of Beleriand that survived that war’s destruction.
Sauron’s Dungeons – During the first age, Sauron was the chief lieutenant of Morgoth. During this, umm, interesting, time, he occupied a castle in a scary land, could transform into a bat at will, and had servants who were werewolves and vampires. He also had many dungeons, with many famous occupants, including Beren, whom Luthien rescued.
Nogrod – Along with Belegost, one of the two fortresses of the dwarves in the Blue Mountains of Middle-earth. From there was created Nauglamir, a necklace that played an important (and as always, tragic) part in the later history of the First Age.
Vinyamar – an elvish settlement on the shores of Middle-earth, founded, and later abandoned, in the early part of the First Age. However, left there by the king who later founded Gondolin, were a set of armor and a sword, later found by a man who, with his son, changed the course of the world.
Falas – A seaside elven kingdom ruled by Cirdan, the same one who built all the ships that ferried elves to Valinor during the Third Age (the pontoon-island of Tol Eressea having been firmly anchored down ages before).
Hithlum – the land between the polar-ice of the Helcaraxe, and the land of Beleriand, where most of the First Age’s action occured. Hithlum was chilly and rainy, but crops grew there, and it was regularly under attack by Morgoth. Yes indeed, Hithlum was the fun capital of the First Age.
Ready to make some Silmarillion choices? Voting in the first round runs until March 22, so don’t delay – VOTE NOW! [Click here]
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