Why do some Nazgûl thrive when commanded to hunt down their master’s stolen Ring while others falter under pressure? Why do some revel in the responsibility of throwing down their enemy when others wither like fog in strong sunlight?

You might not know it, but nine (count them!) keenly honed success habits keep them hot on the trail. Nazgûl apprentices, here are those nine instinctive habits that the most successful Ringwraiths draw on in their daily unlife to keep the Dark Lord number one. Read and learn.

1) Let your powers combine.

Captain Planet does it. Voltron does it. The Power Rangers too. So take heed: when it matters, ensure you gather under your fell leader so that even the Wise might fear to face you.

2) Wear black. Lots and lots of black.

Black never goes out of style. And the effect is scary as the Dickens when when you loom menacingly into view of your prey just as the light fades.

3) Embrace your hydrophobia!

Never forget that you and water do not get along. At all. In that sense, you might as well be the Wicked Witch-king of the West. Next time you consider fording that tiny creek? Think twice.

https://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/images/fotr/fotr0407.jpg

4) Don’t put a Ring on it, stick a Morgul Blade in it.

They say if you love it, put a ring on it. But only the Dark Lord may do that. Use a Morgul Blade to express your affection instead. It’s the smart way to ensure your new BFF will stay by your side always and forever!

5) Maintain a ready supply of remounts and robes.

There are few worse humiliations for a Ringwraith than having to crawl back naked and unclothed to your Dark Lord because you went for an impromptu dip and it all went pear-shaped. So for the love of Morgoth, pack extra robes (black, of course) and take a spare horse or an enormous flying raptor thing (or both!) just in case.

6) Let your minions do the dying for you.

Need to destroy the gates of the enemy fortress? Compel your horde of minions to do it for you! Drive them before you like cattle until they fear you more than the enemy’s darts and arrows. Don’t forget to ride to your glorious victory over the crushed, mutilated corpses of friend and foe for additional intimidation.

https://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/images/rotk/rotk1387.jpg

7) Remember, fear is your chief weapon.

And surprise. And fanatical devotion to The Po… err … Sauron. Anyway, the key point is intimidate your opponents (or your minions) until they give you what you want, or flee in terror.

https://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/images/fotr/fotr0543.jpg

8) Always stop to smell the roses.

Your sense of smell is even better than a labrador’s or a beagle’s. Only the foolish Nazgûl rush heedlessly ahead. Savour the scents and let your nose guide you to that which the Dark Lord desires.

9) Never reveal your name. Don’t encourage familiarity.

You are one of the Nazgûl, the chief and most-feared servants of the Dark Lord, not a camp counsellor. Be the Nameless Fear. Names are for lesser minions — and, seemingly, Khamûl. Because he just has to be different from everyone else.

https://www.framecaplib.com/lotrlib/images/rotk/rotk1721.jpg

Throwback to a post from some years ago, by the very excellent Staffer Demosthenes with help from LurkingLaurie.

Images from PJ’s LOTR via the very excellent FrameCapLib LOTR screecap project; and one from Ralph Bakshi’s LOTR (1978).

If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to poetry@theonering.net. 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.

Greetings Ringers – Today TheOneRing.net is proud to share a Tolkienian analysis from esteemed Y.A. author/editor Henry Herz who takes us closer to the Irish myths mined by Guillermo del Toro for Hellboy II and the remarkable connections to Fëanor himself.

Irish Influences

Astute observers of the film Hellboy II: The Golden Army will note multiple references to Irish mythology. The full name of Hellboy’s antagonist is Nuada Silverlance. The first king of the Tuatha Dé Danann, the gods of Irish mythology, was Nuada Airgetlám (silver hand/arm). The Irish Nuada lost his limb fighting against the Fir Bolg at the first Battle of Mag Tuired. It was subsequently replaced with a silver one made by Dian Cecht, the god of healing, and a smithing god, either Creidhne or Goibniu (sources vary). Balor of the Evil Eye, a giant one-eyed Formorian leader kills the silver-handed Nuada twenty years later at the second Battle of Mag Tuired. In Hellboy II, Nuada’s Gaelic-speaking father is King Balor of Bethmoora in Northern Ireland.

On the one hand…

A lost hand like Nuada Airgetlám’s occurs more than once in myths, ancient and modern. The Professor himself was no stranger to tales of the Irish gods…nor the Norse. After all, the ferocious fettered Fenris Wolf takes off the god Tyr’s hand. Tolkien’s giant wolf Carcharoth similarly bites off Beren’s hand, and with it one of Fëanor’s treasured Silmarils.

“Tyr and Fenrir” by John Bauer (1911)

Hellboy II features three characters with missing hands. The main character, Hellboy, possesses an oversized, red stone Right Hand of Doom, grafted in place by his demon father, Duke Azzael. Although the movie does not emphasize the matter, King Balor’s left arm appears to be made of wood, ending in a silver hand—a clear wink at Irish mythology. Speaking of wink, the cave troll Wink wields a mechanical right hand that can be launched like a projectile and retrieved via a heavy chain—quite a handy feature.

But is there a more subtle linkage in play here? Did movie writer Mike Mignola and/or director Guillermo Del Toro derive inspiration from a more contemporary model for Nuada than Irish mythology? Was their fierce and tragic elf inspired by J.R.R. Tolkien’s character from The Silmarillion, Fëanor? The parallels are numerous and striking.

Copyright © 2008 Universal Pictures / Dark Horse Entertainment

Family Lost

Fëanor is a prince of the Noldor (deep elves), eldest son of King Finwë. His mother, Míriel, passes away after delivering so powerful a progeny, “consumed in spirit and body.” Finwë remarries and fathers two more sons, Fingolfin and Finarfin. Their father is murdered by Morgoth, the spark that will eventually set all Middle-earth aflame.

Like Fëanor, Nuada is an elven prince, the only son of King Balor of Bethmoora. Hellboy II makes no references to Nuada’s mother in either the action or its expository prologue. Her absence is as notable as Míriel’s. Nuada’s father is slain by his son’s own hand. Thus, both princes begin the tragic arc of their lives without mothers and later violently robbed of their immortal fathers.

The mighty sons of Finwë: Fëanor (red), Fingolfin (blue), Finarfin (yellow). Artist unknown.

Skills and Crafts

Fëanor is the most gifted smith in all Middle-earth and Valinor. He devises the Tengwar script used to write the Elven tongues Quenya, Telerin, and Sindarin. He crafts the palantíri, crystal spheres used for communicating over long distances. Fëanor’s greatest accomplishment was creating the three Silmarils, imperishable sacred jewels that captured the light of the Two Trees that illuminated the world. He is also credited with forging fell swords and tall helms with plumes of red. It is probably a safe assumption, then, that his sword would be of the highest quality and likely magical in nature. His prodigious fighting skills can be deduced from the fact that he battles multiple Balrogs without being pounded into elf-paste.

Fëanor faces Gothmog”: with permission of Turkish artist, Çağlayan Kaya Göksoy

Like Fëanor, Nuada is a fierce fighter. His superb sword play and athleticism is on full display in Hellboy II, thanks to actor Luke Goss. He demonstrates great skill with both swords and spear. The latter is magical, capable of lengthening at Nuada’s command, and if the tip of it is broken off in an enemy, it works its way toward the victim’s heart. He also evidences skill as a smith. We see him constructing a device to hold the seed of a forest elemental. And as one might expect of an elven smith, he seems impervious to heat when he recovers a metal cylinder from flames with his bare hand.

Copyright © 2008 Universal Pictures / Dark Horse Entertainment

Strife and Exile

His heart poisoned by Morgoth’s deceptions, Fëanor accuses his half-brother Fingolfin of plotting to usurp him as Finwë’s heir. The Valar (the gods) exile Fëanor to Formenos as punishment for threatening his brother’s life. There he stores the Silmarils with other treasure, and there Finwë joins him.

Fëanor threatens Fingolfin”: with permission of German artist, Jenny Dolfen

In the Hellboy II backstory, greedy humans wage war against the elves, goblins, trolls, and other magical creatures. A goblin master blacksmith offers to build King Balor an unstoppable mechanical army that can be controlled with a magical Golden Crown. Nuada persuades his father to accept the weapon and unleash the Golden Army against humanity. After widespread slaughter, a truce is reached. The horrified King Balor breaks the crown into three pieces so this ultimate weapon will not be used again. Enraged by his father’s decision not to finish off humanity, Nuada goes into self-imposed exile.

Rage and Kinslaying

With the giant spider Ungoliant’s aid, Morgoth mortally wounds the Two Trees that illumine the world. When the Valar ask to use the light trapped within the Silmarils to restore the stricken Trees, Fëanor refuses. “It may be that I can unlock my jewels, but never again shall I make their like; and if I must break them, I shall break my heart.” (Tolkien, 1977)

Morgoth murders Fëanor’s father at Formenos, steals the three priceless Silmarils, and flees to Middle-earth. Fëanor vows revenge, tinged with a racial element that Nuada echoes in Hellboy. “After Morgoth to the ends of the Earth! War shall he have and hatred undying. But when we have conquered and have regained the Silmarils that he stole, then behold! We, we alone, shall be the lords of the unsullied Light, and masters of the bliss and the beauty of Arda! No other race shall oust us!” (Tolkien, 1977)

Mad with grief and anger, Fëanor and his sons swear a terrible oath, leading many Noldor into exile from Valinor to pursue Morgoth and recover the Silmarils.

“They swore an oath which none shall break, and none should take, by the name even of Ilúvatar, calling the Everlasting Dark upon them if they kept it not…vowing to pursue with vengeance and hatred to the ends of the World Vala, Demon, Elf or Man as yet unborn or any creature, great or small, good or evil, that time should bring forth unto the end of days, whoso should hold or take or keep a Silmaril from their possession.” (Tolkien, 1977)

Fëanor”: with permission of Ukrainian artist
Bella Bergolts

When the seafaring Teleri refuse to lend the Noldor their ships for the journey to Middle-earth, Fëanor orders the vessels taken by force. Many Elven lives are lost in what came to be called the Kinslaying at Alqualondë.

Raging at human greed and the destruction they bring to the earth, Nuada vows to annihilate his enemy. He breaks his father’s treaty, murdering some humans to take possession of one of the three pieces of the Golden Crown. Nuada appears at his father’s court, demanding the other crown pieces from his sister and his father so he can order the Golden Army to wipe out humanity, saving the earth thereby. “I have returned from exile to wage war and reclaim our land, our birthright! And for that I will call upon the help of all my people and they will answer.”

But King Balor refuses, and when Nuada will not be dissuaded from his violent plans, Balor reluctantly orders his son killed. Instead, Nuada slays the royal guard and his father in the greatest sword fight scene in cinematic history. His sister flees with the final piece of the Golden Crown.

Copyright © 2008 Universal Pictures / Dark Horse Entertainment

Doom

Tragedy leads to more tragedy. The Valar lay a horrible curse, the Doom of Mandos, upon Fëanor and his followers for the Kinslaying. The Noldor must have shuddered to hear it.

“Tears unnumbered ye shall shed; and the Valar will fence Valinor against you, and shut you out, so that not even the echo of your lamentation shall pass over the mountains. On the House of Fëanor the wrath of the Valar lieth from the West unto the uttermost East, and upon all that will follow them it shall be laid also. Their Oath shall drive them, and yet betray them, and ever snatch away the very treasures that they have sworn to pursue. To evil end shall all things turn that they begin well; and by treason of kin unto kin, and the fear of treason, shall this come to pass. The Dispossessed shall they be for ever.”

“Ye have spilled the blood of your kindred unrighteously and have stained the land of Aman. For blood ye shall render blood, and beyond Aman ye shall dwell in Death’s shadow. For though Eru appointed to you to die not in Eä, and no sickness may assail you, yet slain ye may be, and slain ye shall be: by weapon and by torment and by grief; and your houseless spirits shall come then to Mandos. There long shall ye abide and yearn for your bodies, and find little pity though all whom ye have slain should entreat for you. And those that endure in Middle-earth and come not to Mandos shall grow weary of the world as with a great burden, and shall wane, and become as shadows of regret before the younger race that cometh after. The Valar have spoken.” (Tolkien, 1977)

Shortly after arriving on the shores of Middle-earth, Fëanor’s army is assaulted by Morgoth’s. The Elves are triumphant, and still enraged, Fëanor presses on toward Morgoth’s fortress at Angbad. Ambushed by a force of Balrogs, Fëanor is mortally wounded. He is denied his vengeance and instead Elves, Humans, and Dwarves must endure centuries of death and destruction inflicted by Morgoth until he is finally overthrown by the Valar.

Like Fëanor, Nuada will stop at nothing to see his plan complete. In the end, even he recognizes the depths of his own madness. When Hellboy defeats Nuada for control of the Golden Army, Nuada responds, “Kill me. You must. For I will not stop. I cannot.” Hellboy will not murder the elf. When Nuada moves to strike Hellboy from behind, Nuada is slain by his selfless sister’s suicide, the twins being magically linked. Hellboy has Liz destroy the crown with fire, reminiscent of when another potent talisman, the One Ring, melts in the fires of Mt. Doom.

Copyright © 2008 Universal Pictures / Dark Horse Entertainment

Fading and Melancholy

In The Fellowship of the Ring: Extended Edition, Samwise Gamgee observes Elves departing Middle-earth for Valinor, never to return. “It makes me sad. I don’t know why.” The Bethmooran elves are fading as well, as symbolized by the incongruously falling leaves inside Balor’s throne room. Nuada proclaims in the end, “We die, and the world will be poorer for it.” Whether or not Mignola and Del Toro modeled their Nuada on Tolkien’s Fëanor, they forged an entertaining and poignant movie in which, just as in The Silmarillion, we lament the passing of magic.

Ah! like gold fall the leaves in the wind,
long years numberless as the wings of trees!

From Namárië (Galadriel's Lament)

*Learn much more about Henry Herz’ Y.A. and Children’s books (and also the delightful works co-authored with his two sons) here at www.henryherz.com

References:
Tolkien, J.R.R., 1977. The Silmarillion, Quenta Silmarillion, “Of the Flight of the Noldor”

Notes:
The John Bauer and Celtic knot images are public domain from Wikimedia Commons.

Well, we’re back – with Episode 2 of our collectibles themed podcast. (If you missed it, you can find Episode 1 here.) In this episode, we talk about the importance of having a clear concept of what you want your collection to be, what you want in that collection, and being open to when a special piece crosses your path. We think this topic is important when collecting, because it’s very easy to feel the need to have everything, and thus get overwhelmed and burned out. We hope you enjoy the podcast – and we’re already working on episode 3!

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious Podcast Episode 2: A Focused Collection”

Tolkien art meets with the very latest technology! Spiderwebart and Greg Hildebrandt have been in touch to let us know that the painting ‘The Ring of Galadriel’ (1975) is for sale now, as an NFT. (Purchase would also include the original acrylic paint on board.) This is a rare chance to own a unique and famed piece of Middle-earth art, which also inspired George Lucas. Here’s an official statement about the painting:

The Ring of Galadriel was originally created in 1975 by master fantasy painters Greg and Tim Hildebrandt. First appearing in Ballantine Books’ 1976 Tolkien Calendar as the month of May, the design of this painting was based on classic imagery. The Brothers Hildebrandt derived inspiration from great works such as The Madonna, Botticelli’s Angels, along with Maxfield Parrish’s lighting and statuesque figure style. Researching medieval attire, they chose to use long draped sleeves to add a graceful majesty to our heroine. There is also a nod to the great English Academy artists in the rendering of her hair. Galadriel has an attitude of beauty, power, and strength as she is the Elf Queen who possesses one of the greatest powers in Middle Earth.
The purchase of this NFT also entitles the buyer to the original acrylic paint on board 36×36 inches, framed, signed

The Tolkien art of the Brothers Hildebrandt helped establish the genre of fantasy art and made their names world-renowned. After responding to an open call for artists, Tim and Greg Hildebrandt were chosen to create 43 paintings for Ballantine Books’ J.R.R Tolkien calendars over a period of three years in the late ’70s. 

During this same time, a young filmmaker by the name of George Lucas was in need of a striking movie poster to help sell his latest film. He had taken notice of the first two Lord of the Rings calendars and sought the brothers out to create a painting that would help sell it. The brothers created what became one of the most recognizable movie posters in cinematic history for the film Star Wars.

Over the years both Greg and Tim have created several iconic pieces for books and movies including work for companies like Marvel, Lucasarts, and Universal. Now an octogenarian, Greg Hildebrandt still sits at his table each day, busy as ever.

You can find the sale of this amazing piece here.

The wonderful painting by the Brothers Hildebrandt, of Galadriel holding Nenya aloft. The ring shines on her hand with a light of its own. It is night, and the dark blue sky behind her is full of stars - which are echoed in the white flowers around her feet. In front of her stand the dish and ewer which serve as her mirror, on a tree shaped pedestal.
The Ring of Galadriel, by the Brothers Hildebrandt

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 poetry@theonering.net  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.

Ode to Elanor

By D.McGlinchey

Elanor, my star flower, my beautiful golden sun.
From lonely isles did your namesake travel to bring beauty and joy from afar.
Elf Child, though of Halfling kin, fair beauty of the Shire.
Your grace and wisdom outshines them all and your laughter a Dragon would halt.
Blessed with the grace of the Valar you glow.

Though hard was the road that led to your being,
I never faltered nor forsook the dreams I made.
I travelled there and back again to make true those distant dreams.
And I did.
With you Elanor.
My star flower.
My beautiful golden sun.

~ * ~

If you have a Tolkien/Middle-earth inspired poem you’d like to share, then send it to poetry@theonering.net. 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.

We’ve teamed up with our new friends at Numskull Designs to show off a couple of their very cool cosplaying ducks from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The subjects of this review are going to be the awesome-looking Aragorn and Sauron Cosplaying Ducks, as well as their very cool The Lord of the Rings pin sets.

You can get these two ducks for $12.99 each, and the pin sets for $7.99, from various collectibles stores on the net. However, we’re pleased to announce that starting tomorrow Friday 9th April, through Friday 30th April, if you follow TheOneRing.net AND Numskull Designs on Twitter, and like TORn’s tweet announcing the contest, you will be in with a chance to win a set of what you see in this review. (One lucky winner will be chosen at random, and contacted by Numskull Designs.) Good luck!

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – TUBBZ Aragorn and Sauron Cosplaying Ducks”