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
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!
3. It’s the 20th anniversary of TheReturn 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!
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 LegoLord 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.
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!
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 Linennaiveas 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.”
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!
Many Middle-earth fans will be familiar with the spectacular work of artist Donato Giancola. His art has graced the covers of Tolkien editions as well as calendars, and last year saw a fabulous exhibition of his work at the Huntsville Museum of Art. Visitors there were lucky enough to see his massive new painting, ‘Beacons of Gondor’ – a breathtaking, gigantic rendering of sweeping scenery and drama.
If you live in the New York area, this Saturday you could see that painting – and more – for yourself. Giancola is holding an Open Studio in Brooklyn, 11am to 6pm, May 13. This is an incredible opportunity to meet the artist himself, as well as seeing many of his amazing pieces up close. Not only that, but the first 25 visitors will receive a fabulous gift – a signed copy of Giancola’s now out of print first edition art book ‘Middle-earth: Visions of a Modern Myth’. Copies will also be embossed with the sigil of the Kings of Gondor!
Giveaway for those unable to attend in person
Those visiting the open studio could WIN a Giancola original painting; AND there is even an online giveaway which can be entered by folks who can’t visit in person! So there’s something for everyone. Here’s all the info you need:
Donato Arts OPEN STUDIO
Saturday May 13, 2023
11am – 6pm
397 Pacific Street
Brooklyn, NY 11217
This May will see the return of the annual hosting of an Open Studio here at our place in Brooklyn. We will showcase an abundance of new oil paintings, drawings, and projects as well as scores of classics from my 30+ year career as an illustrator. Come eat, drink, and commingle with fellow artists, professionals, and fans of the genre as we plow our creative paths forward in these changing times.
The massive Middle-earth canvas The Beacons of Gondor will anchor the studio at 78″ x 114″. This is my largest work ever and was created for the exhibition at the Huntsville Museum of Art in Alabama this past winter. I am excited to share this with the New York area audience.
Also back from traveling shows are a couple of my favorites, ‘I threw down my enemy’ of Gandalf defeating the Balrog on Zirak-zigil, and the intimate ‘Shadow of the Past’, as well as The Walls of Moria and the Fellowship in Hollin. There are also numerous pages around the home from David Wenzel’s graphic novel of The Hobbit!
A dedicated Wall of Magic displaying over thirty recent Magic: The Gathering oil paintings and preliminary sketches as well as a handful of my earliest works for Wizards of the Coast will be set up in the studio.
New fantasy works will be shown from the cover of Kristen Britain’s forthcoming novel The Spirit of the Wood to interior illustrations for the new novel King-Killing Queen by author Shawn Speakman of Grim Oak Press . The latest Empathetic Robot painting in now finished titled, Remembering, and Portfolios filled with large, preliminary drawings and studies will also be available to peruse through.
Here at TheOneRing.net, we thought we would open the New Year with some words of hope, inspiration, and wisdom from the Professor himself.
What follows is a little survey of TORn staffers, and some denizens from the Barliman’s chatroom, to find out which Tolkien quotes were favorites. At the end of the article, you will be asked to submit your own favorite words of Tolkien.
J.R.R. Tolkien Quotes – The Lord of the Rings, The Hobbit and more.
So much of The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings is spent walking, riding ponies, in a boat or raft, or on a barrel; so there is a healthy number of quotes regarding travel, but these next two are more than that. They signal curiosity, wanderlust, optimism, and a sense of adventure – something Hobbits are not supposed to be interested in, but aren’t we all glad that a few of them are?
Tookish says he finds a perhaps not obvious optimism – one that faces adversity and the unknown with a steady resolve – here in Bilbo’s Walking Song:
“The Road goes ever on and on, Down from the door where it began. Now far ahead the Road has gone, And I must follow, if I can, Pursuing it with eager feet, Until it joins some larger way Where many paths and errands meet. And whither then? I cannot say.”
This writer is a Travel Advisor, and these two quotes have always epitomized what I best love about travel: the wonder of experiencing the unknown. This is exemplified in Frodo’s version of the same walking song, but heard at the end of the tale when the hobbits accompany Bilbo to the Grey Havens:
“Still round the corner there may wait A new road or a secret gate And though I oft have passed them by A day will come at last when I Shall take the hidden paths that run West of the Moon and East of the Sun.”
Tolkien Quotes on Whimsy
Tolkien throws in a lot of whimsy in The Hobbit, and even in The Lord of the Rings, especially in the earlier parts of the story – almost as if he were trying to balance out some of the much more serious drama later in the book.
Asa Swain has always liked this little quote about Gandalf, even though it is not very profound – no matter how true the sentiment is:
“Do not meddle in the affairs of wizards, for they are subtle and quick to anger.”
J.R.R. Tolkien, The Fellowship of the Ring
Kristin Thompson, our resident Tolkien Scholar, likes the ever-popular ending to Bilbo Baggins’ birthday speech:
“I don’t know half of you half as well as I should like, and I like less than half of you half as well as you deserve.”
Tolkien Quotes on Wisdom
Dwyna says that she realizes that this isn’t a commonly referenced quote, but it speaks to her of how a person can become a hero by playing even a small part in a much larger story. What is started by one person isn’t always ended by the same … we are connected in a bigger tale.
Said by Gandalf during the Council of Elrond:
“But you know well enough now that starting is too great a claim for any, and that only a small part is played in great deeds by any hero.”
And Kristin gives us another great Gandalf quote from later in the story; one that exemplifies not just wisdom, but a sense of responsibility:
“Unless the king should come again?” said Gandalf. “Well, my lord Steward, it is your task to keep some kingdom still against that event, which few now look to see. In that task you shall have all the aid that you are pleased to ask for. But I will say this: the rule of no realm is mine, neither of Gondor nor any other, great or small. But all worthy things that are in peril as the world now stands, those are my care. And for my part, I shall not wholly fail of my task, though Gondor should perish, if anything passes through this night that can still grow fair or bear fruit and flower again in days to come. For I also am a steward. Did you not know?”
Mary Wessel Walker (Ent_Maiden from Barliman’s) suggested this discussion between Eomer and Aragorn, which she loves because it’s ‘words to live by’ that can be a helpful reminder in day-to-day life. She also says this was a very enjoyable passage in the book, because this is their first meeting and they get so deep so fast.
“Eomer said, ‘How is a man to judge what to do in such times?’
‘As he has ever judged,’ said Aragorn. ‘Good and evil have not changed since yesteryear, nor are they one thing among Elves and another among Men. It is a man’s part to discern them, as much in the Golden Wood as in his own house.”
Rob Welch gives us a real gem from Faramir, in discussion with Sam and Frodo once they reach the Ranger stronghold. Here is what Rob has to say: “It is from The Two Towers, Book 4, Chapter 5 ‘The Window on the West’, spoken by Faramir. I love the line because … as a former police officer, and one who would serve again if I had to, I like the distinction Faramir draws between the necessity of the sword, and the love of it. I can use weapons, but I don’t love them … they are a tool to protect those I care about … whether those are personal, the people I was once sworn to serve, or just my fellow human beings and God’s children that might need me. It may be not a concept that is universally accepted, but I firmly believe that, just as Faramir noted in the passage, there are those who would devour in the world, and we need strong men and women who stand against that … and do for the right love.”
“War must be, while we defend our lives against a destroyer who would devour all; but I do not love the bright sword for its sharpness, nor the arrow for its swiftness, nor the warrior for his glory. I love only that which they defend: the city of the Men of Numenor; and I would have her loved for her memory, her ancientry, her beauty, and her present wisdom”
TORn staffer Elessar has this quote in his email signature:
“All that is gold does not glitter, Not all those who wander are lost; The old that is strong does not wither, Deep roots are not reached by the frost. From the ashes a fire shall be woken, A light from the shadows shall spring; Renewed shall be blade that was broken, The crownless again shall be king.”
Tolkien Quotes on Inspiration
Aaron LaSalle draws this quote directly from Tolkien’s letters:
“No half-heartedness and no worldly fear must turn us aside from following the light unflinchingly.”
Calisuri really likes Thorin’s quote at the end of The Hobbit, when he finally understands the value of a quiet life:
“If more of us valued food and cheer and song above hoarded gold, it would be a merrier world.”
Caitlin O’Riordan says this Haldir quote has kept her going this year:
“The world is indeed full of peril and in it there are many dark places; but still there is much that is fair, and though in all lands, love is now mingled with grief, it grows perhaps the greater.”
Tolkien Quotes on Resolve
There seems to be a deeper theme to some of Tolkien’s words; not just hope or inspiration, but also a resolve to keep going, to stay committed to the mission and to each other.
Saystine’s favorite quote comes from Gimli, shortly before they depart from Rivendell. She has always liked it because she says, “Life is not always easy. There are struggles and hardships, but it takes commitment and faith that a better place lies beyond to get you through them all.”
“Faithless is he that says farewell when the road darkens.”
Ashlee chose Sam’s speech in The Two Towers:
“Yes, that’s so,’ said Sam. `And we shouldn’t be here at all, if we’d known more about it before we started. But I suppose it’s often that way. The brave things in the old tales and songs, Mr. Frodo; adventures, as I used to call them. I used to think that they were things the wonderful folk of the stories went out and looked for, because they wanted them, because they were exciting and life was a bit dull, a kind of a sport, as you might say. But that’s not the way of it with the tales that really mattered, or the ones that stay in the mind. Folk seem to have been just landed in them, usually – their paths were laid that way, as you put it. But I expect they had lots of chances, like us, of turning back, only they didn’t. And if they had, we shouldn’t know, because they’d have been forgotten. We hear about those as just went on – and not all to a good end, mind you; at least not to what folk inside a story and not outside it call a good end. You know, coming home, and finding things all right, though not quite the same – like old Mr. Bilbo. But those aren’t always the best tales to hear, though they may be the best tales to get landed in! I wonder what sort of a tale we’ve fallen into? ‘ `I wonder,’ said Frodo. ‘But I don’t know. And that’s the way of a real tale. Take any one that you’re fond of. You may know, or guess, what kind of a tale it is, happy-ending or sad-ending, but the people in it don’t know. And you don’t want them to.”
Suzanne, Ashlee and Calisuri all mentioned this next quote; and it is probably something our readers have been anticipating:
“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo. “So do I,” said Gandalf, “and so do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Tolkien Quotes on Hope
Both Anne and Earl chose an important scene from near the end of the story. Anne says it is her favorite and has sustained her throughout this difficult year. Earl acknowledges that this year has been so incredibly difficult for so many, and his choice had to be about ‘light and high beauty’:
“There, peeping among the cloud-wrack above a dark tor high up in the mountains, Sam saw a white star twinkle for a while. The beauty of it smote his heart, as he looked up out of the forsaken land, and hope returned to him. For like a shaft, clear and cold, the thought pierced him that in the end the Shadow was only a small and passing thing: there was light and high beauty forever beyond its reach.”
Earl then follows up this scene with a song from Sam in the Tower of Cirith Ungol:
“Though here at journey’s end I lie in darkness buried deep, beyond all towers strong and high, beyond all mountains steep, above all shadows rides the Sun and Stars for ever dwell: I will not say the Day is done, nor bid the Stars farewell.”
Greendragon gives us a short little quote that encapsulates the Hope that Tolkien infused his stories with:
‘… despair is only for those who see the end beyond all doubt. We do not.’
Thorongil asks “How does one choose from so many great quotes? Not an easy task, we all love so many.”
He goes on to say, “Like Elessar, my favorite quote is Aragorn’s poem, ‘All that is gold does not glitter…’ Another is a quote from Legolas (that is fairly relatable to how many of us feel now) when he is chasing the Uruk Hai with Aragorn and Gimli”:
” …do not cast all hope away. Tomorrow is unknown. Rede is often found at the rising of the sun.”
And here is a final challenge to our readers from Thorongil:
“I can’t find them now, but there are a few times in the book that the change in wind is mentioned, and hope is renewed in most cases. My memory is really fuzzy here so please help … I think Legolas says it, Gandalf perhaps in Minas Tirith, or at the Black Gates when Frodo is about to cast the One Ring into Mt Doom, Aragorn arriving at Minas Tirith with the help of the South wind … When things are going bad in my real life it seems they continue to get worse until I feel a change in luck. To myself I always say I look forward to the dawning of a new day and hoping “the wind has changed” in my favor. I took that from Tolkien.”
So, find this post on our Facebook Page and see if you can list the quotes about the Wind being associated with a change in luck or in mood; we may even take a few and add them to this post for future readers. Most of the quotes listed here come from The Lord of The Rings and The Hobbit, but feel free to draw from other sources, including Tolkien’s Letters.
Feel free to join TORn staffers and readers at one of our two Zoom Tolkien Toasts later on today. See our Tolkien Birthday Toast post for zoom times and links.
May the Professor’s words be a light to you in dark places!