Waaaayyy back in time in the late 20th Century, four creatives lurked about the wild frontier of the internet, pursuing their disparate interests, unknowingly united by a common passion. The internet was undiscovered country in that time, fertile ground for those with the right ingredients to plow, till and toil. This passion – a love of the works of J.R.R. Tolkien – brought together in an unlikely alliance a visionary, a musician, a server lord and a coder from three nations and two continents who would make history and launch the greatest gathering, collection and expression of Tolkien fandom as yet seen on this Earth.
And like that, it was over. March Madness is put to bed for another year; all that remains for us to do is announce our Grand Champion 2019.
We started back on March 19, with 64 locations facing off in four brackets: The Shire, The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion. Each round saw some fairly close fights, and some strange pairings (Lonely Mountain vs Misty Mountains! Bag End taking on Hobbiton!). In the very first round, what some say are Tolkien’s ‘two towers’ (Barad-dur and Isengard) faced off. The only battle which matched one found in the Professor’s books was in Round 2, when Fangorn Forest marched to Isengard. Alas, my personal favourite (the Green Dragon, naturally!) fell in Round 3.
Of our two finalists, both started off with pretty easy journeys through the rounds. Early on, Numenor gave Gondolin the biggest challenge, but even they could only take 40% against the elvish city. In the fourth round, however, Gondolin faced tougher competition, and just narrowly defeated the other very strong contender from the Silmarillion bracket, Valinor. And in the Final Four, Gondolin again had a hard time of it, securing victory by just 3% over the Lonely Mountain!
Rivendell, on the other hand, pretty much cruised through; even against Lothlorien, Elrond’s home in the valley was still able to take two thirds of the vote. Did that make Rivendell the favourite in the epic final?
The votes have been counted, and the margin between the two locations was just about 15%. Without further ado, we can reveal this year’s Middle-earth Map March Madness Grand Champion:
Yes, as the early rounds would seem to indicate, Rivendell was the firm favourite. They will be singing tra-la-la-lally there down in the valley to celebrate, no doubt!
Many thanks to all of you who played along, voted, and commented. We always enjoy seeing folks taking part in our version of March Madness, and reading what you have to say. Let us know what you thought of this year’s theme in the comments below, or on Facebook. We hope you’ll join the fun again next year!
And then there were two… After two weeks of battles between some of the key locations of Middle-earth, we’re down to the two places which will fight it out to see who will be Grand Champion 2019.
Two tough duels made up the semi-final. On one side, Bag End took on Rivendell; and as hard as that hole in the ground tried, it just could not overcome the power of Lord Elrond. In the end, Rivendell took almost two thirds of the vote in this contest.
On the other side, Gondolin faced off against the Lonely Mountain; and this was an epic fight indeed! The difference came down to less than 3%! But once again, the magic of the elves won through, and Gondolin just defeated Erebor. The dwarves will not be pleased!
So now the hidden city takes on the hidden valley! Two elvish realms face off in the final: Rivendell vs Gondolin. Which location will be the ultimate victor? YOU DECIDE! Voting in the Final is open now, and only goes for TWO days, until 10pm EST on Friday 5 April. So don’t delay! Rally the troops and VOTE NOW on this post! The Grand Champion will be crowned on Saturday!
In a TORn exclusive, we’ve learned Amazon Prime intends to not just break new ground in its new Middle-earth TV show, but blow fantasy apart with a bold move in the offing.Viewers will be able to interact with the show and decide what choices key characters will make. The choose-your-own-adventure approach could provide up to five hours of viewing per episode in the 10-episode first season.
The end is nigh; just two rounds of Middle-earth Map March Madness 2019 remain! We’re down to 4 locations; which are still in with a chance for the title of Grand Champion 2019?
Three of our four categories in this round ended up with roughly two thirds to one third results. In The Shire this saw Bag End conquer its home, Hobbiton. In the Hobbit section, the one overcame the many, as The Lonely Mountain defeated the Misty Mountains. And in the Lord of the Rings bracket, the power of the elves remained strong: Minas Tirith could not overthrow Rivendell.
In the Silmarillion group, however, the battle was much closer; and this time, elvish magic did not win the day. Valinor took an early lead, but in the end it was Gondolin which came out victorious, in a narrow victory with 52% of the vote.
Now the brackets mix, for our final two rounds! Bilbo will have to choose between his own home in The Shire, and the home he loves to visit down in the valley, as Bag End takes on Rivendell. Gondolin marches for the Lonely Mountain; can men overthrow the dwarvish kingdom of Erebor? Will it be elvish stronghold vs dwarvish realm in the final, or will a simple hole in the ground (but not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, mind you) be facing off against a mountain? YOU DECIDE! Voting in the Semi Finals is open now, until 10pm EST on Wednesday 3 April. Tell your friends; get your supporters lined up; and VOTE NOW on this post!
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.
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]
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!
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