It has been fifty years since the Professor sailed into the West, and the Tolkienverse is still thriving. Which is great news for any who wish to pass along the passion as part of their holiday gift-giving, or perhaps pass along that personal hint to your favorite Father Christmas. It’s time for the OneRing staff to gather our collective guidance and bring you our annual Holiday Gift-Giving Guide: the Middle-earth Edition! We’ve pored over a lengthy lineup, narrowing our recommendations down to twelve, one for each day that you and your true love may be mingling under the proverbial pear tree. May you find your Arkenstone somewhere on the list!

For book lovers
  1. Let’s start with something to warm every book purist’s heart: The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien: Revised and Expanded Edition. This is probably the consensus number one pick across all of our TORn staff Fellowship. Just released on November 14, and available broadly from your favorite source for books, this updated edition sees Humphrey Carpenter going back to his original typescripts and notes, restoring more than 150 letters that were excised from the 1981 edition to achieve what was then deemed a “publishable length.” Fortunately our appetite continues to grow for more content on Tolkien and his world in general, and especially commentary on his writings. Anyone for an expanded “Letter 131”, hearing more about a plot summary of the entirety of The Lord of the Rings, or getting Tolkien’s vision for publishing his “Tales of the Three Ages”?

2. Our senior staff member greendragon tends to split her time between America and her home in Scotland, which also boasts one of her favorite sources for unique and beautiful Tolkien-themed gifts: Oscha Slings. And Oscha has just released a number of new items on their website. greendragon enthuses: “In past years, I’ve picked one of their shawls and a throw as gifts; this year, however, I’m excited because their clothing line is back!  The Oscha Wear range includes t-shirts, hoodies, and more, in a variety of sizes and styles – and there is even a range of baby grows! Oscha’s woven pieces are incredible, and are an investment; but now you can add some of their stunning designs to your wardrobe at a lower price point. T-shirts for all the Middle-earth fans in your life this holiday season!  (If you ARE up for splurging, to treat yourself or that special someone, check out Oscha’s new Imladris design. I still haven’t picked my jaw up off the floor, after seeing this…)” And don’t forget to check out their Middle-earth Mug collection!

Collectibles

3. It’s the 20th anniversary of The Return of the King! We’ve even got some staffers – such as deej and Madeye Gamgee – heading to the Land of the Long White Cloud next month in search of Kiwi celebrations. But those are a bit tough to fit into a stocking. No fear! New Zealand Post has once again got you covered. Having already marked the last two years with commemorative collectibles celebrating The Fellowship of the Ring and The Two Towers, they’re now ready to help you complete the set! Check out some amazing RotK pieces – coins, stamps and pins – that will put you in the mood to celebrate the Days of the King!  Beautiful stamps show images from the final movie in the trilogy, complete with ‘hidden messages’ – an iconic line from the film hidden in each design. Or along with some of us staffers, you might prefer to receive for the holiday season a set of the stunning coins. There are four in total, depicting Meduseld, Gondor, the Beacons, and Gandalf crowning Aragorn. They tie together beautifully as a set, and would be a wonderful addition to any collection. 

4. Staffer Justin has been enthusing lately about Wizards of the Coast’s entry into Middle-earth through its massively popular Magic: the Gathering line.  Last June the Wizards released a highly anticipated The Lord of the Rings: Tales of Middle-earth set. For gamers, the “Universes Beyond” card set has integrated Magic’s deep and strategic game-play with settings from Middle-earth (and not just the movies). With the holidays upon us, November 3 saw a new release to expand the set, including a special collection of four Scene Boxes that portray iconic LotR moments, each scene combining six borderless cards that together create a large scene that you can display on the included easel. New booster packs offer the chance to score alternative art, courtesy of the classic 70’s era Hildebrandt brothers, or some very funky “poster art” cards that have some of us humming The Ballad of Bilbo Baggins as we open our boosters.  Fun!

5. The OneRing’s “Collecting the Precious” champion, Elessar, has passed along a couple of favorite gift-giving treasure troves, starting with our friends at Weta Workshop. Weta has been prolific with a host of new offerings aligned with the 20th anniversary of the PJ films, and you can find an array of figures, environments, prop replicas, t-shirts, art posters, etc. on their site. Elessar has highlighted a collection of them designed to fit many budgets, from new entries in Weta’s mini-epic and mini-statue lines like the King of the Dead, Sauron and Treebeard; to additions to their classic figures like a stunning Gondorian Fountain Guard; all the way to the threatening new environment, The Black Gate. Plus, Weta typically offers some great Black Friday promotions, so keep an eye out!

Toys

6. Elessar has also had his eye on a growing list of companies offering new Lord of the Rings lines, like Diamond Select Toys. You’ll find dioramas (like Aragorn), a collection of blind box mini-figures, and action figures galore (like a Nazgûl) on their site. Plus they have some terrific new offerings that you can pre-order now for delivery in early 2024. (I would be remiss should I fail to mention my man Sam in that lineup.)

7. Judging from our social media feeds as well as our own obsessions on the OneRing staff, Rivendell has been a glorious new addition to the Lego Lord of the Rings universe. Boasting 3 stunning sections, 15 mini-figures, and over 6,000 pieces, you’ll need (and want) to find a generous space in your home to keep Elrond and company on permanent display. Bonus points for any who add on one of the special lighting kits available from multiple vendors like Lighttailing and Light My Bricks.

8. It’s back to the books for Madeye Gamgee, this time with a glorious new edition of The Hobbit. Published in September, the book features over 50 sketches, drawings, paintings and maps by J.R.R. Tolkien himself and with the complete text printed in two colors. The additional art pieces from the author – although exhibited and published elsewhere – have never appeared within the pages of the book itself. You can find the hardback edition broadly, or for a book this beautiful, you may want to splurge on the special deluxe boxed edition, which comes with two poster-size, fold-out maps revealing all the detail of Thror’s Map and Wilderland, an illustrated 88-page booklet, and a printed art card reproducing Tolkien’s original dust jacket painting.

9. Staffer Mithril has some kingly gifts to suggest. First up is the Lord of the Rings Tarot Deck from Insight Editions.  Written by Casey Gilly and illustrated by Tomás Hijo, Mithril describes this as “like getting a mini gallery of art and a Palantír in a box.” It’s available at HerUniverse.com and on Amazon.  If you’re in the mood for some Middle-earth inspired ornamentation on a more standard card deck, take a spin over to the King’s Wild Project or Theory11 for some amazing embellishments for poker night.

Jewelry

10. Our friends at Badali Jewelry have expanded their licensed offerings to a multiverse of fandoms, but their Middle-earth collection has always been like the Three-Farthing Stone in the Shire: right at the center. Check out their array of offerings like the Arkenstone, Shieldmaiden earrings, or their Palantir Locket.  Staffer Mithril is a particular fan of their latest line of the Nine “Rings of Men”, with notable affection for the Ring of Númenor. Pick out your own Ring of Power! Captivate your friends! Watch out for shieldmaidens with swords!

Clothing

11. Staffer Tanya keeps an eye out for sources of attire fit for hobbits, elves, Rohirrim, and  other Middle-earth denizens.  Three in particular have caught her eye and heart this year. She writes of Linennaive as offering “several options for Hobbit costuming, focusing on creating dresses using natural fibers. It currently has a Black Friday sale at its website, which assists with the slightly higher pricing for quality work.” Next up is Holy Clothing, a regular shopping spot for my own Rosie. Tanya writes that they’re “an ethical clothing brand out of Asia that pays their tailors fair wages, and gives 15% of their profits to charities. They have dresses named ‘Arwen,’ ‘Eowyn,’ and ‘Tauriel,’ and I admit I am eyeing up this excellent cloak for my own Christmas list.”  The final entry on Tanya’s shopping list is Scarlet Darkness: “they have a variety of extremely affordable outfit options that are still perfectly acceptable at, say, a congregation of Elves at DragonCon, or your local renfest. (I might have used this site for DragonCon myself!) The pricing is very fair, and the quality holds up through all your Hobbit parties or journeys into the west.”  Another clothing site option you may want to check out comes from Mithril: Her Universe, which has a new line of Middle-earth fashion.  “Their clothes have great details and are always high quality and comfy to wear. Check out this Fellowship Cardigan. With both front and back filled with LotR graphics, it would be great for cozying up by the hearth in style.”

Her Universe Galadriel dress

12. Rounding out our “Durin’s Dozen” in this Holiday treasure trove is a unique gift spotted by one of our OneRing founders, Calisuri: a set of four pewter shot glasses each attired as one of our favorite hobbits!  From Nemesis Now, and available from a number of sources, including Walmart and Amazon, the glasses come in an attractive gift box. And while they won’t hold a full pint, you still might consider getting one!

13. Ok fine. How about a “Barliman’s Dozen” then. We’ll add one more bonus entry to this year’s list, particularly fit for any fan with knitting needle facility: The Fellowship of the Knits book. Who couldn’t use a handy set of “Watchful Eye” mittens this winter? Or a “You Shawl Not Pass”? Thanks again to Mithril for the suggestion – it might be worth learning to knit!

We’re just skimming the surface, folks. You can also check out an array of additional options for the Silmarillion-smitten loved ones in your life, from next year’s classic Tolkien calendars to art prints by TORn’s good friends Jay Johnstone, Donato Giancola, Justin Gerard, Jerry Vandersteldt, Jenny Dolfen, and the CaveGeek. The Shire Post Mint has a whimsical collection of coins from all across Middle-earth, and the Hero’s Armory is your source for some very stylish Middle-earth fashion, from socks to neckties to cufflinks and tie clips. You may just want to soak in the bath with a rubber duck version of your favorite LotR hero (or villain) from TUBBZ. Our friends at Sideshow and Asmus boast some terrific Middle-earth offerings, and you can even find some versions for your littlest Tolkien fans-in-training from the Fisher-Price Little People Collection. Or why not launch out into the artist and maker world of Etsy – who knows what you might discover? Maybe a set of silverware with engraved LotR quotes? Or a One Fire Ring to Rule them All?

Happy hunting, and happiest of holidays from all your friends at TheOneRing.net!

Oxford’s venerable and venerated Bodleian Libraries lecture scheduled for 28 March

This year’s Oxford Literary Festival offers something special for Tolkienists: a lecture and question-and-answer session with the co-editor and contributing authors of The Great Tales Never End: In Memory of Christopher Tolkien: Richard Ovenden, John Garth, and Stuart Lee.

Christopher Tolkien carried the legacy of his father, JRR Tolkien, for decades. With accomplishments like bringing The Silmarillion to publication, Christopher helmed the the 2nd generation of The Professor’s vision and lifelong passion, creating the stories of Middle-earth.

The Secret Fire burns brightly in today’s generation of Tolkien scholars! This trio, moderated by Oxford’s first Tolkien-studies PhD candidate, Grace Khuri, is bound to delight and intrigue.

For more information: Oxford Literary Festival the Great Tales Never End

Learn more about co-editor Richard Ovenden and contributing authors John Garth and Stuart Lee.

What is The Silmarillion? Spend 45 minutes with Ms. Khuri listening to her outstanding podcast, What is the ‘Silmarillion’?, for a backgrounder on Tolkien himself, a walk through the ‘story,’ and a scholarly exploration of the many influences on Tolkien’s creation of this masterpiece.

A collection of prior-released stories of Middle-earth’s 2nd Age, The Fall of Númenor brings together Tolkien’s published legendaria during the time of The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power Prime Video series.

For the Tolkien curator who enjoys new packaging of old adventures, and the new Tolkien enthusiast who’s curious about this span of Middle-earth history, this tome is sure to warm your hands and fire up your imagination as the northern hemisphere turns from autumn to winter.

Chris Reed over at IGN put together this tight little summary of what’s in store. For previous TORn reporting on this story, click here and here.

“I sit beside the fire and think of all that I have seen, of meadow-flowers and butterflies in summers that have been…” Happy reading! – Tookish

The rollout of the Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: The Rings of Power TV series has re-energized Middle-earth fandom, and one thing is clear, we all love to get together, online, at conventions, and at the theater and talk Tolkien.

Reading The Hobbit during the Baggins Birthday Bash

The Baggins Birthday Bash, coming to Los Angeles at 11:30am on September 24 at Griffith Park’s Mineral Wells picnic area is the perfect way for SoCal Tolkien fans to gather and party like Hobbits. There will be games, there will be food, there will be plenty of Tolkien discussion going on, and I’m sure we can fit some fun in there somewhere.

Regarding food, in the before times it was a big buffet, and last year, we decided to ask everyone to just bring enough food and drink for their own party. This year, it will probably end up being a bit of a hybrid. Some will just bring what they want to eat, and a few will bring shareable dishes, and we’ll let the food and drink sort itself out. It would be nice if some folks bring extra picnic plates and cups, maybe some paper towels, and of course, everyone should bring a portable chair or blanket and a popup if you have it.

We would like to bring back the Cake or Cupcake contest for the best Middle-earth designed desserts. We’ve had some really creative and beautiful designs in the past, so start contemplating now on how to wow your fellow fans this year. Costumes are welcome, as usual, especially any new 2nd Age costumes. If we do trivia, there is a decent chance it will include some references to the Rings of Power show, since the 5th episode will have screened just 2 days before the picnic.

Please do RSVP on our Facebook Event page, located at: https://www.facebook.com/events/1271178800320132/ and read through the About Details, including selecting ‘see more’ to access the directions for those driving from different sections of Southern California in order to get to Griffith Park and the Mineral Wells section of the park.

In response to a question on twitter, editor Brian Sibley has given a few more details about the contents of The Downfall of Númenor.

Sibley says the book will draw on Akallabêth and Of the Rings of Power (from The Silmarillion) plus material from The Peoples of Middle-earth (HOME Vol XII), Sauron Defeated (HOME Vol IX), The Lost Road and other Writings (HOME V), The Nature of Middle-earth, Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, and The Lord of the Rings.

He makes no mention of new, previously unpublished material.

Previous promotional blurb has described that “J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Fall of Fall of Númenor collects all of Tolkien’s Second Age writings together, following the chronology of The Tale of Years.”

It also includes ten new color paintings by Alan Lee. The book is out in November.

Thanks to Frode for the newstip.

The Downfall of Numenor edited by Brian Sibley