We’re down to the final round in the ‘Divisional’ brackets – in the next couple of days, YOU decide which events go through to the Final Four, where Pre-First goes up against First Age, and Second goes up against Third Age.

You have just two days to vote in the Middle-earth March Madness 2022, A Battle of the Ages Elite Eight! 13,000 votes were cast at the Sweet Sixteen stage; we revealed the winners last night on TORn Tuesday, and you can read about that round below.

Round Four Elite Eight voting is open now until the end of the day Thursday 31 March. Below is the updated bracket, and the buttons for voting.

Instructions: Click on one of the orange division buttons above. Then click the ‘Vote Now’ option that appears above the divisional bracket. This year you get to vote in each divisional match-up in one convenient and visual interface. Note – you need to click each division to vote in their respective brackets. So let’s get voting!

Continue reading “A Battle for the Ages – Elite Eight Voting Now Open!”

It seems like Middle-earth March Madness 2022, A Battle of the Ages has only just begun, and already we’re down to the Sweet Sixteen round! To make it to Round Three, the events in our four brackets have had to win two duels thus far.

12,000 folks voted in Round Two; we’ll take a look at how those match ups played out, below.

Round Three Sweet Sixteen voting is open now until the end of the day Tuesday 29 March. Below is the updated bracket, and the buttons for voting.

Instructions: Click on one of the orange division buttons above. Then click the ‘Vote Now’ option that appears above the divisional bracket. This year you get to vote in each divisional match-up in one convenient and visual interface. Note – you need to click each division to vote in their respective brackets. So let’s get voting!

Continue reading “Round 3, Fight! Vote Now! Middle-earth March Madness 2022”

Here’s what Vanity Fair’s article reveals (or confirms, or in some cases, suggests…) about those 23 character posters we saw last week. (All quotations are from VF’s ‘First Look’ article.)

This is Owain Arthur as Prince Durin IV, ‘prince of the bustling subterranean realm of Khazad-dûm’. As we noted, his hammer hilt reads ‘Awake Sleeping Stone’.

Dwarf princess Disa, played by Sophia Nomvete. Durin’s wife?

Galadriel, played by Morfydd Clark, and described in Vanity Fair as ‘Commander of the Northern Armies’. There had been rumours of short hair for Galadriel – the Vanity Fair images show us otherwise! We also see an eight pointed, Feanorian star on her chest. Significant…?

Elrond, played by Robert Aramayo. Vanity Fair describes him as, ‘a politically ambitious young elven leader’ – and he does have short(ish) hair.

This is silvan elf Arondir, a newly created character, who is played by Ismael Cruz Cordova. His closely cropped hair is the shortest of the lot; his earthy, rugged attire sets him apart from the other elves we have seen. Clearly silvan elves are not quite like their high elven kin…

This is Bronwyn, a created human character, and Arondir’s ‘forbidden love’. She is described as a ‘single mother and healer’ – we see her apothecary’s sickle in this image. She’s played by Nazanin Boniadi.

The Rings of Power includes ‘Two lovable, curious harfoots, played by Megan Richards and Markella Kavenagh’. The two character posters above seem most likely to be them.

As we already knew, ‘Brit of Jamaican descent, Sir Lenny Henry, plays a harfoot elder’. Could this image show him? Perhaps the clutched scroll is an indication of his elder wisdom?

From VF: ‘Another story line will follow a sailor named Isildur (Maxim Baldry) years before he becomes a warrior and cuts the soul-corrupting ring off Sauron’s hand, then falls victim to its powers himself.’ Could the rope here suggest a sailor?

The Rings of Power will feature ‘the elven smith Celebrimbor ([played by] Charles Edwards)’. Could either of these seemingly elvish characters be Celebrimbor? Most likely not the one all in gold; this is rumoured to be Gil-galad, and certainly he seems kingly. So do we see Celebrimbor in red?

(My original thinking was this – but see below for an update!)

This one is total guesswork… VF says we encounter, in the ‘Sundering Seas … a mortal castaway named Halbrand (Charlie Vickers), who is a new character introduced in the show. Galadriel is fighting for the future; Halbrand is running from the past. ‘ There aren’t many of the character posters which look like they might be from the world of men. Could THIS be Halbrand? Could the evil looking, broken blade be part of the past from which he is running? (We do see a wooden chest on the raft, when he and Galadriel meet at sea – so it’s possible he bears with him artefacts from his past…)

UPDATE – VF reached out to let us know that this image in fact shows Bronwyn’s (seen above with sickle) son, and the hilt he is holding is hers. But WHY would she have such a sinister looking object…? Some interesting backstory to come there, methinks, about this ‘broken heirloom’…

Finally, VF tells us that our two Harfoots ‘encounter a mysterious lost man whose origin promises to be one of the show’s most enticing enigmas’. Of all the character posters, this to me is the most enigmatic. So I’m putting my money on this dishevelled, grubby character being our mysterious being…

Don’t forget to join us to watch and discuss the trailer this Sunday!

Here’s a question. If you’re LOTR on Prime, and if your main series material is centered on the Second Age, why tease/lead with an image that show something from a vastly earlier period in the history of Tolkien’s world?

I’ve been pondering this a lot.

Unless LOTR on Prime has gone collectively mad, then there has to be a purpose — some link between that panorama, and the Second Age story that we know is coming.

So, let’s analyse that.

The location itself may offer a link.

Why? Because Númenor — much, much later — tries to invade Valinor. Problem is, that period of Númenor’s history has little to do with the dwarf-elf interactions we seem to be promised if spy reports are correct. So, it’s probably not Valinor itself that’s important, nor the Two Trees in themselves (sorry TREES! fans, I empathise).

That leaves the events that happen in Valinor, and the key protagonists in those events.

Events are — by and large — resolved by The War of Wrath. However, some of those protagonists remain and become involved in the new dramas of the Second Age in Middle-earth (and Númenor).

And I feel this could offer a clue to what’s going on.

Of the chief actors through the events of the Second Age, I can think of four (five, technically) who are also players in during the final Years of the Trees.

Sauron

The first is Sauron. But the link between Sauron and Valinor/The Two Trees is tenuous to non-existent. According to The Silmarillion, he rebelled much earlier and then spent much of Melkor’s imprisonment lurking in and around Angband. He doesn’t really feature strongly in First Age events until Beren and Lúthien’s quest.

Neither the trees — nor any of the events that occur around them — are useful to solidify the background of Sauron for the audience. If you wanted to use Sauron as a link, you’d need to begin somewhere else. For this reason I eliminate Sauron.

Galadriel and Celeborn

The next two come as a pair: Galadriel and Celeborn.

Here, it’s a twofold opportunity.

One, it’s a way to establish Galadriel’s prominence among the Noldor, and the strength of her ambition. Recall Galadriel’s role in the rebellion of the Noldor and their exile. Fëanor is instigator, but in the Silmarillion version she is also involved:

Galadriel, the only woman of the Noldor to stand that day tall and valiant among the contending princes, was eager to be gone. No oaths she swore, but the words of Fëanor concerning Middle-earth had kindled in her heart, for she yearned to see the wide unguarded lands and to rule there a realm at her own will.

Of the Flight of the Noldor, The Silmarillion.

My thinking is that portraying some of Galadriel’s early life in Valinor could be used as a way to support her desire and capacity to (at least to according one tradition outlined in Unfinished Tales) establish Eregion much later in the Second Age with the assistance of Celeborn.

It would also serve to underpin — whether through continued pride, or Ban (or both) — why she did not return to Valinor for so long. There’s vast amounts of drama to be wrung here should LOTR on Prime do it right. A sort of “How I became a massive troublemaker and learnt to love the Ban” sort of thing.

Galadriel is also LOTR on Prime’s most natural and relatable link to Peter Jackson’s movies: well-liked and well-remembered even among those who aren’t Lord of the Rings aficionados.

Celebrimbor

Next is Celebrimbor. To my surprise (for I wasn’t aware of it until very recently), Tolkien outlined that Celebrimbor was born in Valinor during the Years of the Trees, not in Beleriand during the First Age. That he subsequently followed his father, Curufin, into exile, while his mother remained behind, suggests to me that he was well into adulthood by the time of the Noldor’s rebellion against the Valar.

His identity as the grandson of Fëanor makes him a close witness to events in Valinor while his (presumably) growing talents as a smith and craftsmen can be contrasted against the immense skill of Fëanor (and Galadriel). In particular, Fëanor’s achievements with the Silmarils could be used as a dramatic spur for his own creations.

For Celebrimbor, Eregion is not so much a place to rule but a place where he can be free to create with the ultimate aim of someday surpassing the works of his grandfather. Celebrimbor is also a more natural tie for recent spy reports of dwarves and elves meeting. Unless it’s a very frosty meeting, that’s not very likely to be one involving Galadriel and Celeborn (even if Galadriel is not entirely unreceptive to dwarves).

Glorfindel

Glorfindel is the final option. Also an exile, also born in the Years of the Trees. Coincidentally, also blonde. As The Fellowship of the Ring describes it, “his hair was of shining gold”.

Moreover, Glorfindel returns to Middle-earth sometime during the Second Age to play a role in helping keep Sauron at bay after he forges the One Ring. Tolkien writes that this was probably sometime between SA1200 and SA1600 though, and I wonder whether even the first full season would get that far.

Any other elf is a poor fit.

Cirdan did not make the journey to Valinor. Gil-galad is too young — born near the end of the First Age in Beleriand. Elrond is in the same boat. And the rest of the chief Noldorin exiles either died in the long wars against Melkor, or returned to Valinor at the conclusion of the War of Wrath.

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The folks over at Monolith Studios released the official story trailer for the follow to the hit game Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor. Middle-earth: Shadow of War picks up where the events of the first game end, with your two main characters Talion and Celebrimbor still looking for revenge against Sauron. This time our two main characters will create a “new” Ring of Power that they believe cannot be controlled by Sauron. In order to make sure of total victory, besides the new ring you will recruit followers who will help you in battle via the new large scale battle system. The trailer looks really cool and having played the first game I’m very much looking forward to playing this one.

Middle-earth: Shadow of War will be available for Xbox One, Project Scorpio, Windows 10 PC (Windows Store and Steam), PlayStation 4 and PlayStation 4 Pro; the game is up for pre-order right now at all your e-tailers with Standard, Silver, Gold, and Mithril Editions. Currently Middle-earth: Shadow of War is due to arrive October 10th, 2017.

For more information or to join the Middle-earth: Shadow of War conversation, visit www.ShadowofWar.com
Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Middle-earth: Shadow of War Story Trailer”