So it begins – Middle-earth March Madness 2022, A Battle of the Ages.

Now’s your chance to brush up on your History of Middle-earth, as we explore events which happened throughout the four ages leading up to the final departure of the Rings of Power. Stay tuned for posts taking a look at the events in the Pre-First, First and Second Ages; if you need reminding of the events of the Third Age, may we suggest it’s a perfect excuse to rewatch Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy?

For more discussion of the 64 events starting out in March Madness this year, join us TONIGHT on the TORn Tuesday live stream. And then – place your votes!

How does it work, you ask? Simple! Click on one of the orange division buttons below. 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!

You have until the end of the day Thursday March 24th to vote in Round One; on Friday 25th we’ll announce winners and open voting for Round Two! Let the games begin!

We’ll see you on TORn Tuesday to discuss!

‘We come to it at last – the great battle of our time.’ Or – in this case – the great battle of the Ages! On Tuesday 22nd March we’ll kick off this year’s Middle-earth March Madness; and the theme is A Battle of the Ages.

Each of the four brackets this year represents an Age in Tolkien’s Middle-earth. This is the perfect opportunity to brush up on your history, as we get ready for Amazon’s Rings of Power – and the events of the Second Age – in September.

Over the coming weeks, we’ll have some posts to explore these brackets in more depth. What happened in the time of the Two Trees? Who conquered Glaurung in the First Age? And just when were those rings forged in the Second Age? Get ready to explore some History of Middle-earth together, as we vote to decide fandom’s favourite event from thousands of years.

How does it work, you ask? Simple! Staffers at TORn already voted to narrow down the many, many happenings to their top 64, and instead of seeding this year, the events appear in chronological order in each bracket. For each round, we will have a poll, where you vote for your choice in each match-up. Is Gandalf falling to the Balrog more significant than the Last March of the Ents? Are you more interested in when Beren first sees Luthien, or when they recover a Silmaril together? Which is more terrible – the destruction of the Two Trees, or the Elven Kinslaying? You decide!

Join us on Tuesday to kick off the Middle-earth March Madness tournament for 2022. 64 events will start out – but only one will be crowned Champion!

Writer Joanna Robinson sure has been busy. Over on The Ringer (not actually a Tolkien site, believe it or not), she writes cogently on the commonalities and differences between the “Harfoots” we’ll see in Amazon’s The Rings of Power series, and the Hobbits we know rather better from The Lords of the Rings and The Hobbit.

She muses on how hobbits function as a crucial mediating influence into Tolkien’s milieu — and how that probably serves double for wider audiences outside core Tolkien fandom, a wider audience whose emotional attachment is mostly via Peter Jackson’s films.

And she explores the applicability of Hobbits to the WWI and WWII experiences of J.R.R. and Christopher Tolkien, and of the British folk in general.

Hobbits can be seen as the proxies for Tolkien’s children, but as with all things with the author, there’s also something much darker at play here. Tolkien abhorred any attempts to turn his Middle Earth books into simple allegories for the two world wars he lived and wrote through. Still it’s very hard not to see his hobbits as the “everyman” analogues for the pastoral Brits who were drawn into the horrors of the First World War and then the even greater terrors of WWII, as Tolkien and his sons were, respectively. In that way, Bilbo of The Hobbit—who is press-ganged into leaving his cozy hobbit hole by a wizard and a pack of dwarves—reminds us of the young J.R.R. Tolkien, who was so reluctant to go off to war at the tender age of 22 he used an academic deferral to delay enlisting.

In a 1941 letter to his son Michael, Tolkien recalled: “In those days chaps joined up, or were scorned publicly. It was a nasty cleft to be in for a young man with too much imagination and little physical courage.” A few years later Tolkien did, reluctantly, go to war. He wrote: “Junior officers were being killed off, a dozen a minute. Parting from my wife then … it was like a death.”

It’s a thought-provoking read. Go check it out.

Read a Field Guide to The Rings of Power Pt 1: Concerning Hobbits

DON’T FORGET! Joanna Robinson will be joining TORn Tuesday tomorrow from 5pm PT, 8pm ET to discuss her Rings of Power experience with Staffers Quickbeam and Justin. Join us then, and be sure to bring your own burning questions!

Our friends at Weta Workshop had themselves one heck of a Comic-Con at Home 2021, with the goodies they’ve unveiled for us. We have a new Mini Epic, helms, a premium statue, a new master collection statue – and that’s just from Middle-earth! The new Mini Epic is this year’s Comic-Con Exclusive. It’s a variant of Saruman, but this time holding his staff and Gandalf’s staff as well. This piece comes in with a price tag of $49.99(US), and an edition size online of only 400 pieces.

If you’re a fan of the helm line then this Comic-Con was for you, as you got three new additions: two from The Hobbit Trilogy and one from The Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The two from The Hobbit represent helms we saw on the Ringwraiths during the Dol Guldur sequence. Fans can add the helm of the Ringwraiths Khand and Harad, with both pieces coming in at $79.99(US). The Lord of the Rings is being represented by the Uruk-hai Captain’s Helm, which also comes in at $79.99(US). The edition size of these three pieces will be set by the number of orders placed by August 5th.

This year’s premium statue is the Lord of the Rings himself, Sauron. This statue is a monster in size, and amazing in paint as well as detail. Fans who order him will get – for the first time ever – alternate weapons, with one of them being from a deleted scene! He also comes with a base which contains led lights, to give a glowing lava effect. Sauron comes in with a price tag of $999(US), and fans have time to save for this superb piece as he’s not shipping until 2nd quarter of next year. Like the helms, Sauron’s edition size is being set by orders received through August 5th.

Continue reading “Collecting The Precious – Weta Workshop’s Comic-Con 2021 Goodies”

Hobbits are now owned by Amazon, joining all-encompassing TV rights to The Lord of the Rings book and appendices rights.

MGM's famous roaring lion trade mark is seen in front of Bilbo and Gandalf.
The Hobbit films were produced by Warner Bros from rights owned by MGM. img: YouTube

It’s official: Amazon has acquired MGM Studios, including the longtime film and TV rights to The Hobbit and characters related. Within hours, CEO Jeff Bezos announced he is stepping down in July and moving to Hollywood to play with his major studio, of which the crown jewel is The Lord of the Rings.

What this means is that @LOTRonPrime can put Hobbits in their Second Age show, since rights to that class of characters were held by MGM. ‘But timelines,’ you say! Time is just a construct. Amazon needs an Everyman entry point for casual viewers: Hobbits are that. There have been rumors that Harfoots are in the show, a book-sourced compromise from the troublesome Hobbit rights. Amazon can now change all the dialogue in reshoots to call them Hobbits; casual fans will want that familiarity.

Remember the crushing drama of rights issues with MGM on The Hobbit, which caused Guillermo del Toro perhaps the greatest professional loss of his career? Amazon has just resolved all that for the future.

Amazon has full TV rights to The Lord of the Rings full stop – anything mentioned in the books and appendices. Now they have all the rights MGM previously held, from its 45 year old Saul Zaentz deal. Amazon chose not to remake The Lord of the Rings, instead exploring many different options, before settling on Numenor and the Second Age.

Owning MGM means, of course, that Amazon COULD remake The Hobbit into a limited series or a cartoon; many things are possible. All kinds of round doors are now open…

The cartoon Bilbo Baggins in front of Bag End - from the Rankin Bass Hobbit movie.

Sixty-four began the contest; in the end it came down to just two costumes, in TheOneRing.net’s March Madness 2021: the Battle of the Best Dressed in Middle-earth. Aragorn’s Strider garb took on Legolas’ ‘hero’ outfit – and the voting was fast and furious. Thousands of votes were placed – this final round saw the biggest turn out by far. The lead swung back and forth between the two costumes; but in the end, there could be only one. This year’s Grand Champion is…

Continue reading “Middle-earth March Madness Champion 2021”