Last week we brought you the exciting news about composer Paul Corfield Godfrey’s multi-part, operatic telling of the central stories from Tolkien’s First Age. Four of the five parts are available now: you can purchase Fëanor, Beren and Lúthien, The Children of Húrin and The Fall of Gondolin directly from Volante Opera Productions, with the fifth and final part, The War of Wrath, expected soon in 2023.

Staffer greendragon recently had the pleasure of sitting down with composer Paul Corfield Godfrey and tenor Simon Crosby Buttle to find out more about these epic works, which are finally being made available for us all to enjoy. It’s been a suitably (in a Tolkien-esque sort of way!) long quest, which has included copious correspondence between Godfrey and folks such as Rayner Unwin and Christopher Tolkien – and has even featured an appearance by one of the Tolkien family in a performance! Find out all the fascinating details in our zoom chat:

Continue reading “Tales of the First Age in operatic form – learn more from the creative team”

Good news for all the fans out there who are disappointed that we have yet to see tales from The Silmarillion performed on stage or screen: composer Paul Corfield Godfrey’s suitably epic opera of First Age stories is now available, in a recording made by singers from Welsh National Opera. We may not yet be seeing these tales; but at least you can listen to them!

There are four parts to this mammoth labour of love, all using text taken directly from Tolkien’s writing (with full permission from the Tolkien Estate). Fëanor, Beren and Lúthien, The Children of Húrin and The Fall of Gondolin are available now; and they will be joined in 2023 by a fifth and final part, The War of Wrath. Here are details from the official press release:

Continue reading “The Silmarillion comes to life in operatic form”

If you’re looking for the perfect holiday gift for your favorite Tolkien fan, you’ve come to the right place! The staff of TheOneRing.net have put together a list of our favorite items of the year, with price points for every budget. And while it’s nice to know that 2-day shipping exists (thanks, Amazon!), shipping delays around the holidays are inevitable, so we recommend starting your gift shopping now. Not to mention that the perfect item you’ve been looking for could sell out!

From our Fellowship to yours, TheOneRing.net would like to wish you all a peaceful and happy holiday season.

Deej recommends:

Mini Epics: Witch-King of the Unseen Lands Limited Edition by Weta Workshop: $44.99

I’ve been a fan of Weta Workshop’s Mini Epics line since they started releasing them, but this might be my favorite one so far. The attention to detail on these little guys is so…epic! And like all Weta collectibles, they were designed by the same artists that worked on the films. “Peeking through the mortal veil, we glimpsed the mighty Witch-king’s true visage, immortalized now for all to fear in Mini Epic form.”

Not only is this Witch-King fear-inducing , he’s also kind of cute! Click HERE to pre-order.

greendragon recommends:

Realm of Middle-earth Moonlit Throw by Oscha: £96.00

It’s no secret that I’ve always been a huge fan of Scottish company Oscha’s Middle-earth range. Their designs are so beautiful; you can choose a throw, shawl, mug, or bag, if you’re not in the market for a baby sling or baby blanket. (Though I have to say, the baby blankets make great wall hangings!) This year I’m highlighting their ‘Realm of Middle-earth’ pattern, on the ‘moonlit’ colour scheme throw. Who doesn’t like a good map from Tolkien’s world? This would look beautiful on any sofa or bed. Do yourself a favour and check out Oscha’s entire collection; you’ll be glad you did! Click HERE to order.

Hobbit Mini Gandalf Hat by Stansborough: $79

It’s great to know that small, family run businesses creating sustainable and ethical products (such as Oscha, above) can thrive; and as one of the best, I’m thrilled that Stansborough in New Zealand are still going strong. They are the folks who made the magical Elven cloaks for The Lord of the Rings movies, as well as Gandalf’s scarf in The Hobbit movies, and further fabrics for The Rings of Power! Once again, they have fabulous scarfs, throws, caps, etc.  – and even Gandalf’s hat! My choice for the gift list is the mini Gandalf hat; I already said this in another homepage post, but I think it would be an adorable tree topper. Own a little piece of genuine New Zealand goodness; check out Stansborough’s website. Their treasures aren’t cheap – but the standard is so high, they’re worth every penny! Click HERE to order.

Collectibles from NZ Post: prices vary

NZ Post continue their celebration of Peter Jackson’s Lord of the Rings trilogy with 20th anniversary collectibles for The Two Towers. Their products are beautiful, and would be treasured by any collector. I particularly love the Limited Edition stamp presentation pack, and this stunning art print. The new range of pins would be wonderful stocking stuffers! There are three, all great designs and very attractive presentation; again, very collectible.  Choose from Eye of Sauron, Gollum, or Mount Doom.

Click HERE to see the range from NZ Post.

Garfeimao recommends:

The Fall of Númenor: And Other Tales from the Second Age of Middle-earth by J.R.R Tolkien and edited by Brian Sibley: $34.99

My ‘must have’ this year is “The Fall of Numenor” edited by Brian Sibley, who expertly weaves together all the Second Age story strands into one, cohesive timeline custom-made for the fans of Tolkien who want to dig deeper into the lore, but without having to scour numerous other volumes. Add to this the glorious new watercolor and pencil drawings from Alan Lee, and this book becomes the perfect Holiday gift for new and existing Tolkien fans. Click HERE to order.

saystine recommends:

The Lord of the Rings Jewelry Collection by Enso Rings: starting at $44.99

Enso has a collection of silicone rings inspired by The Lord of the Rings. The Shire Leaf ring is perfect for anyone who dreams of the simple life. This ring celebrates the idyllic, peaceful home of the Hobbits with a leaf etching on Distressed Ashy Green and Black Pearl. Click HERE to see other designs and to order.

kelvarhin recommends:

The Silmarillion (Illustrated Edition): Illustrated by J.R.R. Tolkien: $39.00

For the first time ever, a very special edition of the forerunner to The Lord of the Rings, illustrated throughout in color by J.R.R. Tolkien himself and with the complete text printed in two colors. The Silmarillion fills in the background which lies behind the more popular work, and gives the earlier history of Middle-earth, introducing some of the key characters. Click HERE to order.

Elessar recommends:

The Lord of The Rings: The Fellowship of The Ring 2000 Piece Jigsaw Puzzle by Ravensburger: $44.99

Join the Fellowship in their quest through Middle Earth to rid the world of Sauron’s One Ring. Pursued by Ringwraiths, the Hobbits Frodo, Samwise, Merry and Pippin are aided by the Wizard Gandalf, the Ranger Aragorn, Legolas the elf, Gimli the dwarf and Boromir. The Watcher nearly prevents their perilous trek through the Mines of Moria, where Gandalf confronts a Balrog on the Bridge of Khazad-dûm. Galadriel provides comfort, but Saruman’s Uruk-hai pursue. Will the Fellowship make it to Mordor? An immersive illustrated map of Middle Earth, this “The Fellowship of the Ring” puzzle is a Ravensburger exclusive, perfect for any Lord of the Rings fan! Click HERE to order the FotR puzzle, or HERE for their ‘Two Towers’ puzzle.

Wee Tanya recommends:

The Lord of the Rings Apparel and Accessories line by Her Universe: prices vary

I am a huge fan of costuming, but can’t always put on a full elf outfit at work. The brand Her Universe currently has a range of all-gender Lord of the Rings apparel, including cloaks, hoodies, leggings, t-shirts, and a fantastic blouse with Fellowship broach embroidery on the collar that can keep us Tolkiening along in a more subtle way. If you can’t find an specific item that you want, the Her Universe LOTR line is also sold at Hot Topic. Some of my favorite items include the Middle-earth map button-down in men’s sizes, the dress that is suitable for a Ren Faire or Hobbit dance party, and the Loungefly bag. Click HERE to order.

The Los Angeles Comic Con Octopus

Due to some technical issues, there has been some realignment to the programming schedule at LACC and TheOneRing.net has a slight change in our programming slot.

Our ‘Dispatches from Middle-earth: The return to Middle-earth’ panel is still in room 303 AB on Saturday, December 3, but now our start time is at 5:30 PM and ending at 7:00 PM, giving us nearly a full 90-minute panel. Join us as we talk about all things Tolkien, past, present, and future. And remember, we love seeing Middle-earth themed cosplay, and this is the weekend to really bring it.

But wait, there’s more Middle-earth goodness to be had. Elijah Wood and Sean Astin will be on the Main Stage on Saturday, December 3 from 3:00 PM to 3:50 PM. Both will be doing autographs and photo ops on Saturday as well, check the L.A. ComicCon App for details. 

Elijah Wood and Sean Astin

There is one more surprise coming tomorrow for cool, geeky Middle-earth-themed fun happening at LACC, so check back tomorrow morning.

It’s the discovery of a lifetime: a handwritten manuscript by JRR Tolkien, penned and signed in 1964, has surfaced. This nine-page text, which Christopher Tolkien painstakingly recreated from memory, tells a mostly familiar story for readers of The Silmarillion in chapter 22. Yet, as the ‘original’ manuscript for this part of the story, it contains new treasures to delight the serious Tolkien reader.

First Report

The Italian Tolkien Society’s group Associazione Italiana Studi Tolkieniani broke the news yesterday in this phenomenal write-up: Il Silmarillion, scoperto un manoscritto inedito Bring your Italian for this one! I sure wish I had mine…

Opening Bid: 15 Large via Heritage Auctions

This treasure goes under the auction gavel in two weeks with a starting bid of $15,000! Looking over the offerings for this lot is impressive, as The Professor keeps company with the likes of Poe,  Dickens, Doyel, Washington, Jefferson, Einstein, Beethoven, and some other incredible artifacts and memorabilia. The manuscript includes a rare genealogy chart titled “Kinship of the Half-Elven,” a signed letter to Mrs. Eileen Elgar in transmission of the manuscript, and “Concerning… The Hoard,” the manuscript itself.

Check out the auction lot here at Heritage Auctions, and be prepared for beauty.

Courtesy of Heritage Auctions

Here’s to hoping this find becomes available for scholarly study far and wide! A special, “Thag you berry buch!” to Lasswen and DrNosy for bringing the news to our Discord chat this morning.

Minas Tirith

At the outset of the Second Age all of the peoples of Middle-earth had to start over, after their kingdoms and homes were lost in the destruction of Beleriand. Entire rivers, coastlines and regions were gone forever. Moreover, most of the great leaders of Elves and Men perished or left Middle-earth during the First Age. Fingolfin, Fingon, Beren, Lúthien, Húrin and Eärendil were all gone. The ‘baddies’ also lost many of their greats, including Morgoth, Gothmog, and most of the Balrogs and dragons.

Those filling the void of leaders and heroes in the Second Age included Elrond and his brother Elros, Celebrimbor the Elven smith, Gil-Galad, now High King of the Noldor, and Númenorean faithful, Elendil. On the side of evil, any remaining Balrogs and dragons had gone into hiding, so that particular void was primarily filled by Sauron and his legions of orcs and corrupted men. Sauron’s forging of the One Ring in the Second Age and his powers of persuasion also managed to blur the lines of good and evil that were so easily delineated during the First Age. The One Ring’s power over lesser rings to turn once good and noble men to evil, and Sauron’s powers of persuasion, corrupted Elves, men and Kings of men.

Suffice it to say that the events of the Second Age are no less dramatic and compelling than those of the First Age. So, with that let’s delve into 16 of the most important events of the Second Age of Middle-earth, shall we?

Elros & the Edain reach Númenor (SA 32): Given the choice of the halfelven by the Valar, Elros chose to be counted among the race of Men. As such, he led the Edain (Men) to the island of Elenna, a gift of the Valar for the help the Edain provided to defeat Morgoth in the First Age. The Valar wanted to provide a special place for the Edain separate from Middle-earth and closer to Valinor, though the Edain were strictly prohibited from going far enough west that they lose sight of Elenna. The name of the realm Elros founded, which became synonymous with the name of the island, was Númenor. As king, Elros took the Quenya name of Tar-Minuyatur setting a tradition for all the kings of Númenor to follow.

Migration of dwarves to Moria & Khazad-dûm (c. SA 40): Moria’s origins began prior to the First Age when Durin awoke. Looking into the lake of Kheled-zâram, he saw a crown of stars reflected in its waters and took it as a sign to stay. In the caves above the lake, Durin and his folk delved from the east side of the Misty Mountains eventually reaching the west side, and Moria became one of the greatest strongholds of the Dwarves. Unique among its natural resources was the rare metal Mithril. After the destruction of Beleriand at the end of the First Age, many Dwarves migrated to Moria, making it possible to mine more Mithril, and making the caverns even greater and more beautiful.

Moria

Sauron builds Barad-dûr in Mordor (c. SA 1000): Sauron, originally a Maia of Valinor, was among the servants of Morgoth who escaped the wrath of the Valar and the destruction of Beleriand. Thinking that the Valar had once again forgotten Middle-earth, he began ensnaring Men and orcs alike to his service. Alarmed by the growing power of the Númenorean visitors to Middle-earth, he decided to hedge his bets and construct his own fortress. To that end, he constructed the fortress of Barad-dûr near Mount Doom in the land of Mordor. To complete it, Sauron eventually used the power of the One Ring, making it impregnable as long as the One Ring existed.

Celebrimbor crafts the Rings of Power (c. SA 1500): Celebrimbor, a grandson of Fëanor, founded the realm of Eregion on the west side of the Misty Mountains around SA 750. Its proximity to Moria was no accident, as the Elves were drawn by the availability of Mithril, and they traded freely with the Dwarves of Moria. Around SA 1200, Sauron began visiting Eregion in fair form under the name of Annatar, ‘Lord of Gifts.’ Imparting some of his knowledge of magic, he assisted Celebrimbor’s smiths in creating a number of rings of power.

The Three Elven Rings are completed (c. SA 1590): After Sauron/Annatar left, Celebrimbor created the three great Elven rings of power: Vilya and Narya (made of gold), and Nenya (made of Mithril). As they were forged without the knowledge of Sauron, they weren’t subject to his will.

Sauron forges the One Ring (c. SA 1600): During his time with the Elven smiths and Celebrimbor, Sauron took as much knowledge as he gave regarding the forging of rings of power. Having left Eregion, he returned to Mordor and forged the One Ring in the fires of Mount Doom, putting a large amount of his own power into the Ring. Celebrimbor immediately realized he had been betrayed, and a war between Sauron and the Elves ensued, leaving Eregion destroyed. Celebrimbor was captured by Sauron. Under torture and before he died, he revealed the location of all the rings of power except the three Elven rings. Sauron eventually used the power of the One Ring to dominate and control the owners of all the lesser Rings of Power, save the Three which were hidden from him.

Elrond builds the refuge of Imladris/Rivendell (SA 1697): After the fall of Eregion, Elrond founded the refuge of Rivendell, or Imladris, near the western slopes of the Misty Mountains. Rivendell became a shelter for the Elves fleeing the destruction of Eregion by Sauron’s forces, and would also become a safe haven for many a traveler throughout both the Second and Third Ages. Elrond had received the Elven Ring, Vilya, from Gil-Galad, and it was partially through its power that he was able to protect Rivendell throughout the Second and Third Ages. At the end of the Second Age, Rivendell served as a gathering point for the forces of the Last Alliance of Elves and Men, prior to crossing the Misty Mountains to eventually confront Sauron.

The Ringwraiths arise (SA 2251): After sacking Eregion, Sauron gave nine rings of power to mortal men. As with many of the rings of power, the life of the ringbearers was prolonged and they enjoyed great power while it lasted, but being mortal men they eventually turned into shadows of their former selves, or wraiths. The recipients of the nine rings are referred to in Tolkien’s writings as nine kings of men. However, only one of the Ringwraiths was ever named. Khamûl was a king of the Easterlings during the Second Age, and one of the wraiths to enter the Shire in search of the bearer of the One Ring in the Third Age. The Witch-king was the greatest of the Nine, but Tolkien never revealed his origins or his name. Nevertheless, the Ringwraiths, or Nazgul, were Sauron’s most terrible servants, and turned the tide of many future battles to Sauron’s benefit.

Ringwraiths

Sauron is “defeated” & brought to Númenor (SA 3262): After destroying Eregion, Sauron and his forces continued westward with the goal of dominating all of Middle-earth. At the request of the Elves, the Númenoreans came to their aid, eventually driving Sauron and his forces back. When Sauron realized he was losing, he allowed himself to be taken as a prisoner to Númenor by King Ar-Pharazôn. Using his considerable powers of persuasion, he converted many Númenoreans to the worship of darkness, and convinced Ar-Pharazôn that the Valar were selfish to retain immortality only for themselves. At Sauron’s urging, Ar-Pharazôn eventually decided to openly attack Valinor, convinced that in doing so he would become immortal.

Ar-Pharazôn builds the Great Armada & assails Valinor (SA 3319): Ar-Pharazôn the Golden was the twenty-fifth and last King of Númenor. In a bid to wrest the gift of immortality from the Valar, Ar-Pharazôn gathered a mighty armada with which to sail to Valinor and assail the Valar. The fleet eventually sailed far enough that they could no longer see Númenor on the horizon, which was strictly forbidden. When the fleet passed the island of Tol Eressëa and anchored near the coast of Valinor, the Valar called upon Eru for aid. Eru then changed the shape of the world, making it round so that Men could never again sail to Valinor.

Destruction of Númenor (SA 3319): In the turmoil caused by Eru changing the shape of the world, Ar-Pharazôn’s fleet was pulled into the chasm that opened between the Blessed Realm and mortal lands, and Númenor sank beneath the Sea. All of its inhabitants were killed. However, Elendil, his sons Isildur and Anárion, and others who had not been swayed by Sauron, realized that Ar-Pharazôn’s assault on Valinor could be disastrous. Just before the island was destroyed, they set sail for Middle-earth in nine ships. Reaching Middle-earth, they founded the kingdoms of Arnor in the north and Gondor in the south. Sauron’s body was destroyed, but he was still in possession of the One Ring – and his spirit also escaped to Middle-earth.  

Destruction of Númenor

Arnor & Gondor are formed; the White Tree is replanted (SA 3320): Nimloth, the White Tree of Númenor (and a descendant of Telperion), had been destroyed by Sauron. However, Isildur had planted a seedling in secret, and carried the sapling to Middle-earth during his escape from the destruction of Númenor. It was planted in Minas Ithil. When Sauron took Minas Ithil (which became known as Minas Morgul), he again burned the white tree. However, Isildur once again rescued a sapling, and early in the Third Age, planted it in Minas Anor (later, Minas Tirith).

Isengard & Orthanc are built by Númenorian exiles (SA 3320): The Ring of Isengard and the tower of Orthanc were built by the Dúnedain, Númenor exiles. The fortress and tower provided protection for the northwesternmost region of the kingdom of Gondor. Its imposing tower and encircling, rocky walls were almost impregnable, having only one entrance to gain access. During his escape from Númenor, Elendil brought with him the palantíri, the seven seeing stones, and one was placed in Orthanc. It was used to communicate with other stones in various places around the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor.

The Last Alliance of Elves & Men is formed (SA 3430): With the One Ring and the Ringwraiths at his disposal, Sauron’s strength grew to be almost insurmountable by the end of the Second Age. It became apparent to the leaders of the free people that only through their combined strength could they hope to stop the Dark Lord. To that end, an alliance was formed between Elendil and Gil-galad. After gathering and making plans in Rivendell, the armies made their way to the plains of Dagorlad outside of Mordor. Forcing their way into Mordor, they besieged Barad-dûr for seven years. Elendil’s son, Anárion, perished during the siege.

The Last Alliance of Elves and Men

Sauron overthrown by Elendil & Gil-galad, who both perish (SA 3441): In a desperate attempt to end the siege of the Last Alliance, Sauron sent out his host once more to confront the forces of the enemy. To bolster his forces and intimidate the enemy, Sauron himself left Barad-dûr to engage in direct combat. After a long battle, Sauron was felled by Gil-galad and Elendil, who both perished in the attempt.

Isildur cuts the One Ring from Sauron’s finger (SA 3441): As Elendil died, he fell on his sword, Narsil, which broke under him. Immediately thereafter, to help ensure Sauron’s power was truly ended, Isildur took the hilt shard of his father’s sword and cut the One Ring from Sauron’s finger. Without the power of the One Ring, Sauron’s spirit dissipated and disappeared from Middle-earth until later in the Third Age. Elrond and Círdan, lieutenant of Gil-galad, urged Isildur to destroy the Ring once and for all. Instead, Isildur claimed it for himself as wergild for the deaths of his father and brother. Thus, both the One Ring and Sauron survived to wreak havoc once again in the Third Age.

Isildur takes the One Ring

P.S. a word about Galadriel!

Given the important role she played in the events of the Third Age, the absence of Galadriel as a player in the important events of the history of Arda is noticeable. It’s not that we’re ignoring her, it’s just that Tolkien didn’t write her into many, if any really, of the large events, such as the founding of kingdoms and the great battles. From sources like The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales, we know that she was born in Valinor, made her way to Middle-earth by crossing the Ice of the ice of the Helcaraxë, and spent much of the First Age living in Doriath with Thingol and Melian.

At the beginning of the Second Age, she and her husband Celeborn led many of the Noldor who lived in Eriador, eventually settling in Eregion, ruled by Celebrimbor. When Annatar/Sauron came among the Elves of Eregion, it was Galadriel who was mistrustful of him. She counseled Celebrimbor to keep the Three Elven Rings safely hidden from Sauron, which he did, sending Vilya to Gil-galad, Narya to Cirdan the Shipwright, and giving Nenya to her. After living in various places throughout the rest of the Second Age, she and Celeborn finally settled in Lórien.  

So, Galadriel was always in the picture, just not as closely involved in the ‘greatest’ events as others were. Her time to shine would, of course, come in the Third Age and the War of the Ring.

Refresh your memory on Pre-First and First Age events in our previous posts! Ready to VOTE? Click here! You have until end of day Thursday 24th March to vote in Round One; winners will be declared and Round Two launched on Friday 25th. Which event is THE crucial one in the history of Middle-earth? You decide!