Andy Serkis Will Read to You All of The Hobbit for 12 Hours Straight

Reading the entire book in a Gollum voice would be absurd. And of course, he didn’t. Here is when Gollum emerged:

Twenty Rings, Seven Stones, and Middle-earth’s New Dark Lord

I'm not sure it's explicitly stated which is the "greatest," but I'm fairly sure that Gondolin is the mightiest (and most tragic, given its overall majesty). Then again, "great" has different meanings. Do you mean population? That we never get. Beauty?  Menegroth is specifically called out as "the fairest dwelling of any king that has ever been east of the Sea."

The Silmarillion Primer: The Creation of Life, Eä, and Everything

Benjamin, only in a figurative sense perhaps. But the three themes occurred during the Ainulindalë and, remember, after the third theme happened for a while, all "the Music ceased." Then Eä is created after it has already stopped, based on the Music but not during it. Arda is formed, the Valar go down into it, bring the Maiar, etc.  The Music already occurred. It's not ongoing. 

That said, remember we get references like this:

And it is said by the Eldar that in water there lives yet an echo of the Music of the Ainur more than in any substance else that is in this Earth;

Which suggests that such echoes can be found all around. But that's all it is. An echo. 

Or might you be confusing the Third Theme with the Second Music? But even that hasn't happened yet. That's meant for the end of Arda.

Twenty Rings, Seven Stones, and Middle-earth’s New Dark Lord

Hey, Benjamin.

It’s a good question, and I’m not sure if it’s anywhere definitively answered, but I think it can be surmised. (And if it’s somewhere stated firmly, I guess it would be in one of the History of Middle-earth books.) In Unfinished Tales, there is repeated mention of Manwë being hesitant or unwilling to involve himself (and by extension, the Valar) in Middle-earth after the sinking of Númenor. It comes up a few times. And I think it’s because that was such a game-changer. Because in that incident, Ilúvatar himself intervened and reshaped the world to its eventual global state. Valinor, where the Valar all live, is cut off from Middle-earth in a physical way (even though both remain in part of Arda). So I guess in the wake of that major shake-up, the Valar are even more hesitant to intervene in the world of mortals. They already got the biggest threat, Morgoth, and it kinda wrecked the place (Beleriand’s sinking). His legacy remains but him physically remaining in Arda was a disaster.

Anyway, you can see hints of this being the reason in the section of Unfinished Tales called “The Istari.” Christopher Tolkien says, of his father’s writings on the subject:

Of major interest, however, is a brief and very hasty sketch of narrative, telling of a council of the Valar, summoned it seems by Manwë (‘and maybe he called upon Eru for counsel?’), at which is was resolved to send out three emissaries to Middle-earth. 

This being one incarnation of the Istari. Later it would be five chosen. Then we get this at one point (the bolded emphasis is mine):

To the overthrow off Morgoth he sent his herald Eönwë. To the defeat of Sauron would he not then some lesser (but mighty) spirit of the angelic people, one coëval and equal, doubtless, with Sauron in their beginnings, but not more? Olórin was his name. But of Olórin we shall never know more than he revealed in Gandalf. 

And so on, and so on. A picture emerges of the Valar’s unwillingness to bring out the big guns ever again. The Istari are the closest thing to their involvement in Middle-earth in that physical-spiritualcapacity, and even they weren’t sent until 1000 years into the Third Age. And then of course, the Istari dwindle down mostly to just one wizard (Gandalff) doing his job and the rest either becoming ineffectual or actually turning bad (Saruman). The fact that when Gandalf perishes he’s sent back (quite possibly by Ilúvatar, not even the Valar) speaks to there still being greater powers pulling for the beleaguered people of Middle-earth.

 

When Tuor Met Ulmo, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let Gondolin Fall

FYI, Syd. I've gone back and fixed all the Finwë family trees throughout this series so Amras's name is now spelled right. There were like nine different versions. :) Anyway, thanks for the tip.

The Misappropriation of the Rings (and the Third Age)

 Thanks, Syd! For now, the Deep Delvings Into Middle-earth is my ongoing follow-up series. There probably won't be as many installments as the Primer, and they're fewer and farther between, but it's open-ended.

Twenty Rings, Seven Stones, and Middle-earth’s New Dark Lord

@113. Hey, Syd! That passage about the Argonath is simply my way acknowledging what is probably just a contradiction between The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings that Tolkien never got around to reconciling. In the LotR Appendices, it’s clear that the Argonath statues were erected in the Third Age by Rómendacil II (a.k.a. Minalcar, King Narmacil I, nineteenth King of Gondor), which is well after the deaths of both Isildur and Anárion. 

BUT. In The Silmarillion, while still highlighting events in the Second Age, we get this:

These were the chief dwellings of the Númenóreans in Gondor, but other works marvellous and strong they built in the land in the days of their power, at the Argonath, and at Aglarond, and at Erech; and in the circle of Angrenost, which Men called Isengard, they made the Pinnacle of Orthanc of unbreakable stone.

It can be reasoned, thus, that something was built at the future site of the Argonath at that time, there in the Second Age, when Isildur was still around, just not statues of him and his brother (yet). Might even have had a different name at the time, since Argonath basically means “royal stone” in Sindarin. It might have just been some quays in the river, or some sort of pillars. Maybe just some stately stone gazebos… :)

Also, if one writes an article about Neil Peart of Rush and cites Tolkien a few time therein, indeed, one might just be a Rush fan. ;)  

When Tuor Met Ulmo, or: How I Learned to Stop Worrying and Let Gondolin Fall

Hey, Syd. It's not bothersome. And hah, that one's gotta get fixed in a few places. Not just these two posts. Anyway, I'll get to them. Thanks. Yes, worth fixing!

The Tragical Misery Tour (of Húrin) and the Return of the Sons (and Jewel) of Fëanor

Thanks, Syd. Keep 'em coming. ;)

For what it's worth, I work in trade production for Tor/Macmillan and we still catch typos every time a book gets reissued or reprinted, even after many iterations. Insidious things, typos!

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: Death as a Gift Is Debatable in Middle-earth

@25, I wouldn’t say the Elves long to leave the world; they more consistently love the world than do Men (which Finrod points out here), though they do weary of existence as they age, and at times do envy the escape from that weariness that Men are gifted. And yes, of course Men, not really understanding what death entails for them, naturally envy what they perceive as the perfect immortality of the Elves. Notice that Elves living as long as Arda is news to the wise-woman Andreth.

Bottom line: the Arda (Marred) grass is always greener. Such is life for all.

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: Death as a Gift Is Debatable in Middle-earth

@17, look at you of all people naysaying a cat. #AslanForever

@20, no worries. Tom is just a whole other topic, which we really ought not to discuss here. And we all have our own preferences! Like: I think Tom's cool, and I've come around on his role in the books big-time, but I do think it was wise to keep him out of the film for the general moviegoing populace (who definitely could not handle him, and could even have shortchanged the film's success to some extent).

 

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: Death as a Gift Is Debatable in Middle-earth

@14, oh, cool. Argentina! My wife's from there. I'll have to share your comment with her!

@15, while I agree with this observation, what's always refreshing about Tolkien's work is that it's rarely heavy-handed* in one point of view. Like, when I read the Athrabeth, I naturally "side" with Finrod, but Andreth's got some great points and he listens to her. Portraying two contrasting points of view, while both being compelling, is something Tolkien excels at.

 

*I mean, we can't all be Mablung.

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: Death as a Gift Is Debatable in Middle-earth

@10 Aside from fun little aside speculations of my own (more for humor than not), fan fiction is definitely not something I would be addressing in this series. 

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: Death as a Gift Is Debatable in Middle-earth

Ohh, hahah. The good annoying. Yes. How does it rank against his other ones, to you? Like, are you okay with: Not knowing definitely what became of the Entwives? Who the heck Tom Bombadil is? Or what Tom Bombadil is?

Truth is, the list is long but distinguishing. I for one like the greater mysteries; it's the personal details that I most wish to know about. Someday I shall need to begin that list just for my own reference. Maybe I can make an article of that....

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: Death as a Gift Is Debatable in Middle-earth

@1, the idea that Eru isn't "easy" on his Children is one way to look at it. Remember that it is Melkor who made things hard for everyone. So to me it's more like Eru didn't wholly suppress hardship on his Children.

@2, I don't quite follow your point. You call it annoying but then say that other authors should include great mysteries? I for one appreciate that Tolkien keeps death mysterious for Men—hence, extremely relate-able to us—but not across the board. The fact that Elves have their own, slightly-more-ordered method of death (though it, too, was marred by Melkor) is fascinating. And Dwarves? They get even less information. The mysteries make death more poignant, and the exceptions more appreciable. 

Artist Kip Rasmussen on Tolkien, The Silmarillion, and Raising Young Tolkien Fans

Okay, I just have to jump back over here to share Kip’s latest piece: “Olórin in the Gardens of Lórien.”

Or maybe, back in the Gardens. Back out of incarnate form, but perhaps reminiscent of his Gandalf/Mithrandir form. 

 

Mark Hamill Cast as Skeletor in Kevin Smith’s Beautifully Deranged Masters of the Universe: Revelation

Yeah, this thing could go any which way, and I don't know what to expect. I'm excited just because it's Masters of the Universe and I was absolutely part of its original fan base. But I also can't think of a single thing Kevin Smith did that I enjoyed, and while some of those voice casting choices sound great, many don't. But I'm happy to wait and be shown that it's great. 

Storylines...yeah, hard to say. There were a few recurring arcs, but not many. Very episodic. I will say the mini comics (and many comics since) had a bit more depth than the original cartoon. And the 2000s revival was also half-decent. Like a lot of franchises, there are so many different versions of the character and overall story, between Prince Adam, his mother Queen Marlena (who was an astronaut from Earth), Skeletor himself, Zodak, the Snake Men, and so on.

I'm rather pleased to see Moss-Man and Stinkor involved somehow. 

 

Tales from Topographic Beleriand: Gondolin, Galadriel, and the Gates of Sirion

The phrase “at this time” is kind of the operative one here. At the time of this chapter—or more directly, the year of the completion of Gondolin (FA 116)—it’s some 344 years before Beren’s adventures (as detailed in this book) even begin. We have no idea when Thuringwethil is born, or any vampire; they seem to be evil spirits in bat-like forms (like werewolves are spirits in lupine bodies), but they don’t get any mention sooner than Chapter 19. So it’s anyone’s guess about the time of their summoning/creating/breeding. If they were out and about doing spywork, we get no mention of them.

Yep, Sauron is of course around at this time (though we have no idea what he’s up to during the leaguer). And being a powerful Maia, sure, he can certainly shape-change. But I was talking about winged minions (creatures who inherently possess physical wings), not any or all minions capable of manifesting wings or taking to the air. I’m sure if Sauron could have made winged dragons earlier, he would have, and they could potentially have spied out Gondolin’s construction. But clearly he wasn’t capable of doing so. Which was the point here. I don’t think Sauron was doing spy or scout work for his master. It’s not until Morgoth breaks the leaguer that the future second Dark Lord goes out and claims any real estate outside of Angband (the first Minas Tirith). Even that wasn’t until year 457.

Keep reading. Obviously, winged things do show up later. ;) As I think you already now. 

Eärendil the Mariner and the Last Crusade (Against Morgoth)

Maggie’s not wrong, but ultimately, I think, they are all the same. In the actual Mirror scene, the mirror is a “basin of silver” set upon a “low pedestal” which is beside (but not connected to) the stream that runs down from the “fountain on the hill.” When Galadriel actually gives it to Frodo, she says:

In this phial is caught the light of Eärendil’s star, set amid the waters of my fountain.

I think most people take this to mean straight from her Mirror, but its waters come right out of the fountain itself anyway. I think the assumption comes from her calling the pedestal-and-basin the “Mirror of Galadriel,” whereas no one refers to that fountain or the stream that flows from it the Fountain of Galadriel or the Stream of Galadriel. It’s just part of Lothlórien. It’s her saying “the waters of my fountain” that makes it all rather ambiguous. And unimportant precisely where she drew out the water to fill the phial of starlight. 

Interestingly, this illustration by Angus McBride off that spot (if not that scene) presents one pretty good layout off mirror, stream, and fountain:

Eärendil the Mariner and the Last Crusade (Against Morgoth)

Quite right, Maggie—fountain. Amended. Thanks!

The more I read and reread Tolkien, especially the broad strokes of Middle-earth’s history (which The Silmarillion largely is), the more I believe that what’s told is not the full story. Tuor doesn’t have his story and fate fully tod, but I don’t fill in the gaps myself or draw conclusions based on what’s not said. 

Ralph Bakshi’s The Lord of the Rings Brought Tolkien From Counterculture to the Mainstream

I’m no scholar, ED, but The Lord of the Rings did technically introduce readers to the word Curunír already—first in the name Nan Curunír, which was then just translated as the Valley of Saruman or the Wizard’s Vale. But then in the Appendices he gets named directly as Curunír, ‘Man of Skill,’ which is what the Eldar called him. 

And in 1977, The Silmarillion itself was published—and that includes the name—but I’m pretty sure Bakshi’s film was still in production then. No one could expect they’d find and use the name Curunír by then.

Still, Aruman is a rather silly alternative. Though I do appreciate so much about this film, for all of its little misfires.

Do Balrogs Have Wings? Artist Justin Gerard on Tolkien and Golden Age Illustration

I bring it up when discussing the fall of Gondolin, but the bottom line is, even if Balrogs had wings they're not effective enough to stop them from falling or perishing in those specific cases where one fell from on high. Against Glorfindel, effective wings would have saved that one, and against Gandalf, Durin's Bane might not had had to plummet at all; while Gandalf did fall, he could have swept right back up and creamed the Fellowship.

It's a little bit of an Occam's razor situation. But none of this disallows some vestige of wings existing, given that Balrogs seem to be of the same class of Maiar as Arien, the spirit of fire who has no trouble ferrying the Sun across the sky each day in Arda. Yet I doubt even she requires physical, weight-bearing appendages to swim through the atmospheres.

 

In Memory of Neil Peart: Fantasy, Science Fiction, and the Mystic Rhythms of Rush

My first Rush show was on their Roll the Bones.  My wife's was Presto.

I'm very jealous of those of you who caught much earlier concerts. Dang. 

I was rifling through the last few tour books that I have (I couldn't afford to buy them on my first couple of shows), and came across this wonderful image, which really goes to show how deadly serious Rush took themselves:

In Memory of Neil Peart: Fantasy, Science Fiction, and the Mystic Rhythms of Rush

Oh, and @4: my mom (unlike my dad) NEVER warmed to Rush. And she had the best timing; she would walk into my room precisely during the screechiest part of a Rush opus, or when the guitars were at their loudest. Absolutely. But dang, not quite as severe a reaction as you got. Yikes. How very.... 

“…Instead of the grateful joy that I expected, they were words of quiet rejection! Instead of praise, sullen dismissal. I watched in shock and horror as Father Brown ground my precious instrument to splinters beneath his feet…”

In Memory of Neil Peart: Fantasy, Science Fiction, and the Mystic Rhythms of Rush

Thanks, guys.

@6 I'm with you all the way. Funny how many different ways you can classify Rush. My brother used to have a book of Heavy Metal sheet music (various bands) and "Tom Sawyer" was in it. I don't generally think of Rush as heavy metal, but yeah, they were for a period of time before the perimeters of the genres shifted.

Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: Morfydd Clark Will Reportedly Play Young Galadriel

@7, you mean Baby Artanis? So what we are looking at here....The Noldolorian? Which would surely include the story of how Finarfin and Eärwen met and had kids. Listen, if big brother Finrod gets to be in this, I'm on board.

Amazon’s The Lord of the Rings: Morfydd Clark Will Reportedly Play Young Galadriel

Young indeed! If this new series is indeed set during the time of Númenor in the Second Age, then Galadriel will be a fresh few thousand years old. Now Elrond, he'll be a whippersnapper! Like, less than a centuryif the show were to start at the beginning of Númenor (which it probably won't).

“What in the hell did you do?” The Expanse: “New Terra” and “Jetsam”

Avasarala and especially Bobbie are the coolest TV show female characters I can think of. I’d hate to see anything make this show go away, but I could be content watching these two in a spin-off just go on adventures. Naomi’s nearly on that list, too. I absolutely love the attention to gravity on this series. Refreshing.

That said, I’m so tired of the f-bombs with Avasarala. They were shockingly direct the first few times, but now she seems to drop them into every scene at least once or twice now. I’ve come to actually roll my eyes. I love the dialogue on this show, but with Avasarala…I get it already. She’s tough enough as she is.

Leia Was Originally Going to Be “The Last Jedi” in Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker, Says Todd Fisher

@8, Lisamarie, I like the Auralnauts Kylo way better than the films’ Kylo, big time. Film Kylo is a big jerk who flirts only briefly with decency (but does not act upon it) and is ultimately complicit in the genocide of multiple planets—his crimes greatly eclipse Vader’s by a long shot, and I hope he doesn’t get redemption. Or, if he does, has to live to work for that redemption. 

Whereas the Auralnauts Kylo is actually likable! 

 

All Three Sanderson Sisters Have Said Yes to Hocus Pocus 2

I can't wait for HP2: Binx's Revenge

But seriously, I'm curious and interested.

The Messy, Beautiful Worldbuilding of The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe

To me, the existence of the Wood Between the Worlds (Magician's Nephew) justifies the patchwork elements of Narnia and its environs. Even before Aslan sings Narnia into existence, there appear to exist parallel worlds with parallel elements, such as humans (Earth) and humanoids (like those from Charn). Earth alone has its Greek mythology, flavors of which then appear in Narnia. It creates a sort of in-universe precedent for worlds borrowing from other worlds. It could even be that Greek myths were themselves inspired from contact with other worlds where fauns and minotaurs and centaurs existed.

 

Introducing the Great C.S. Lewis Reread

Indeed, Mere Christianity is one of my reread-every-few-years favorites. 

Introducing the Great C.S. Lewis Reread

Oooh, ooh! I hope you get to Dark Tower and Other Stories, to discuss the little gems like "Forms of Things Unknown."

Building a Vision of the Future: The Myth of the Shipwright

Great stuff, Linda!

Although I just want to name-drop Círdan here, because in both The Silmarillion and The Lord of the Rings, Círdan the Shipwright is the unsung wistful visionary standing just stage left, and he's the reason that Eärendil is able to build Vingilot and learn his mad mariner skills. And because Círdan means "shipwright" or "ship-maker" in the Sindarin tongue. :)

Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

@47, like a lot of things in The Silmarillion, details are scarce. We know they die because it's implied, and because Maedhros repented of it and tried to find them (and failed) and that's the end of them. Elves do still require sustenance to stay alive, but the older and Elf gets, the more power his fëa has over his hröa and thus their bodies become even "tougher." Maedhros was not only a grown Elf of who knows how many centuries (and a son of the mighty Fëanor to boot), but Eluréd and Elurín were very young with far less powerful fëar

Anyway, that's one explanation.

Tolkien’s Elves: Married With Eldar Children

@25 I started down that path a bit myself in this very article, but then trimmed because it was becoming a discussion of Orcs, not Elves. And I intend to tackle them and their nature another time in another article. 

But as for Finduilas, neither The Silmarillion nor The Children of Húrin nor The War of the Jewels, each of which mentions her by name, goes into any greater details about her capture by Orcs. It’s sparse to begin with, The Children of Húrin elaborates gives a tiny bit more, and War of the Jewels just puts dates to the previous wording. We’re told the Orcs put all their captives to death the moment they were ambushed by the Men of Brethil, and it’s only called out that Finduilas is pinned to a tree (to which we can rightly assume impaled there). She hangs onto life long enough to speak words to her rescuers, the Men of Brethil.

That’s….it. Where is it that Tolkien “explicitly states” what you’re suggesting? I’ve never seen it.

But again, I’d like to stay on topic here with Elves. What Orcs do or are driven to do—to their own kind and to Men—is very much another topic.

Tolkien’s Elves: Married With Eldar Children

Dr. Thanatos, you are a rock, sir. Guaranteed to peddle your recurring puns at every chance. ;)

Tolkien’s Elves: Married With Eldar Children

@20 I've found Tolkien waffles more on matters like the nature of Orcs, but "Laws and Customs" comes from two nearly identical drafts. It doesn't read with that uncertainty at all to me; the uncertainties are only those matters that the Elves themselves are uncertain about, which leads into the questions they posed to the Valar and the Valar answered with less-than-clear wording. 

Tolkien’s Elves: Married With Eldar Children

@18, I don't get that impression at all. But it should always be worth nothing that these are essays he'd written but hardly signed off. When you compare different drafts, you can see he's not necessarily settled on anything, that's true. But I find observing tendencies in a culture regarding traditional roles and proclivities while at the same time remarking that there is equality and exceptions do exist to any rule is an admirable thing. A progressive one, even. If you want to read it with a cynical eye, though, you surely can. Here and throughout all his writings.

Tolkien’s Elves: Married With Eldar Children

@10, your reminder of the sad story of Finduilas and Gwindor makes me wonder if Mandos had to open up a whole new wing in his Halls just to accommodate the many unfortunate fëar who crossed paths with the children of Húrin and suffered Túrin-based deaths. Special Maiar grief counselors trained specifically by Estë for this purpose, were kept on retainer to help them out.

Tolkien’s Elves: Married With Eldar Children

@8 A very notable battle to battle to cite! And here's the larger quote from the Galadriel and Celeborn chapter of Unfinished Tales for others to see:

In the Battle of the Gwathló Sauron was routed utterly and he himself only narrowly escaped. His small remaining force was assailed in the east of Calenardhon, and he with no more than a bodyguard fled to the region afterwards called Dagorlad (Battle Plain), whence broken and humiliated he returned to Mordor, and vowed vengeance upon Númenor.

But again, that's the defeat of Sauron's forces, his military and political power in specific areas. Númenóreans were probably powerful enough that if he didn't narrowly escape (a notable point for Tolkien to point out here) they could probably have wrecked him just as much as he was by Elendil and Gil-galad and that's bigger defeat for a Maia. Had that happened he wouldn't have been able to do what he did to the Númenóreans later—to go and speak honeyed words and play the long con on their own island. He'd have been incorporated and quite possibly that would have been the moment when "his spirit arose and fled back on a dark wind" to Mordor to rehabilitate and grow his own actual physical power again. That level of destruction came with the sinking of Númenor first. Sauron's forges in Eregion being "routed utterly" and him having "narrowly" escaped is a lot like Lúthien's ass-kicking of him. He did survive, but he retreated. He probably did not weep over all the dead Men and Orcs he left behind, just as he would not have wept over the dead werewolves in Tol-in-Gaurhoth. 

This is much akin to the Witch-king's setback earlier in the Third Age when the Host of the West finally finished his reign with Angmar; the Lord of the Nazgûl was sent packing pretty much by himself. He survived that day. Compare that to his much more physical and spiritual defeat at Éowyn's and Merry's hands. 

I suppose I could clarify above that I'm referring to the Númenor/Last Alliance level of defeat—but in articles like this, I try my best to stay on track and not get wordy at every turn. :) If the Last Alliance had not defeated Sauron himself and his armies there in Mordor, and the armies of Men and Elves were scattered and Sauron had the victory, then it would be a very different time that Legolas and Arwen would have been born into....was my point. If they'd have been born at all. The early Third Age would have been quite different. Heck, it might just be the extended Second Age instead.

Tolkien’s Elves: Married With Eldar Children

@5 That would be Finrod’s girlfriend you’re thinking of. Fingolfin’s wife is Anairë, but his nephew Finrod’s paramour is Amarië.

Tolkien’s Elves: Married With Eldar Children

Defeat, in this context, is certainly a matter of degree and semantics. I’d say that in the War of Wrath, Sauron merely came forward when Morgoth was overthrown. I’m not sure we know if he even did battle in a traditional way. So not personally defeated, just politically. And being outmatched, he approached Eönwë. And neither his surrender to Ar-Pharazôn nor his ousting from Dol Guldur were against his will. Just part of the plan.

Lúthien and Huan certainly bested him and sent him in retreat. But as far as his being utterly thrashed and made bodiless by force—that is, “stripped of his raiment of flesh” as a Maia—was only twice up until the early Third Age: the sinking of Númenor and at the base of Mt. Doom by Elendil and Gil-galad. Remember that Lúthien threatened to do this to him if he didn’t yield mastery of his tower. And since he did yield it, she let him go, and he simply retreated. His power wasn’t shaken and forced him to regrow it slowly again like these other instances.

So yeah, that’s the sort of thing I’m talking about here.

Rewatching The Dark Crystal: Beyond Muppet Good and Evil

Okay, now I remember—I had to check on it. The question of where the wings comes up is a matter of myth even to the Gelflings. The only place I've seen it covered is in Volume 1 of the Creation Myths (Archaia Press). We're given one version of the legend, but it references a few more, meaning even they don't all agree on the origin.

These books are worth checking out, by the way. Starting with this one:

 

Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

Thanks, Darrell! The next "installment," should be coming soon, too. More about Elves...

Donato Giancola Is the Caravaggio of Middle-earth

FYI, folks: https://www.facebook.com/donato.giancola.7/posts/2444261532286608

"A new retrospective exhibition featuring 40 works spanning my entire artistic career, fan and pro alike! The largest showing of my work in years. A handful of the art on exhibit is included here and represents some of the most creative work of my career."

TRANSFORMATIONS: The Art of Donato Giancola
September 6-27, 2019
Laguna College of Art & Design

The Legacies and Dark Elves of R. A. Salvatore

@29: There is indeed an elephant in the D&D room. It's called a loxodon, and they're apparently from Ravnica, the Magic: The Gathering world, which I'm not much into but there is clearly some cool stuff coming out of there.

Any other kind of elephant in the room, I would say, is a matter of perception. Not seen—indeed, not necessarily existing—except by individual. Good thing D&D has a complex cosmology and planes can overlap and everyone can have a point of view!

But seriously, this isn’t the forum for that. This is specifically about Salvatore’s Dark Elf books and not even D&D in general. Might I suggest Eberron for you? Shades of gray from the start; drow are more often neutral than evil, orcs helped save the world once, goblinoids are a full spectrum, and you can worship any god and be of any alignment. Maybe that has what you’re seeking.

@28: Thank you very much. I admit, it’s been so long, now I’m forgetting when that “torture” point of view came up in the original Icewind Dale trilogy? Incidentally, have you ever read “Dark Mirror,” the Drizzt-based story that first appeared in Realms of Valor. .

 

Rewatching The Dark Crystal: Beyond Muppet Good and Evil

Hard to gush about all of it at once, James. :)  The soundtrack is excellent. And let us at least acknowledge the use of the eternally delightful "The Pod Dance" in an episode of Stranger Things season 3...

Rewatching The Dark Crystal: Beyond Muppet Good and Evil

I, for one, would want a more magical or fantastical reason for that! Thra is pure fantasy and I love it. But now I'm trying to recall if, in the comics addressed it at all. I don't think so.

I'm thinking of the wonderful series Archaia Press put out, and that storytline went REALLY far back to the beginning of Thra and led up to the arrival of the urSkeks. Only near its climax does it getting to the cracking of the Crystal and the splitting of the urSkeks. It seems like this new show, if it's using the same canon, would take place in the time after the cracking...

Rewatching The Dark Crystal: Beyond Muppet Good and Evil

Funny thing about that line of Kira's. I remember finding it strange that she didn't know what writing was but she remembered, at least, that boys couldn't have wings. 

Fairly sure they'll make a bigger deal out of this anatomical distinction in the new series.

Rewatching The Dark Crystal: Beyond Muppet Good and Evil

Ohh, I meant to add...

At my geek fantasy-themed wedding reception, our tables weren't numbered; they each bore a framed portrait of some romantic couple from a film we loved. Y'know, Arwen and Aragorn, Willow and Kiaya Ufgood, Navarre & Isabeau, Wesley and Buttercup, etc. And of course:  
Rewatching The Dark Crystal: Beyond Muppet Good and Evil

Hear, hear! Well said (again), Bridget.

The Dark Crystal ranks up there with Labyrinth and The Storyteller as huge influences in my life. High hopes are riding on this new incarnation.

 

Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

@44, I think you’re using a more abstract or alternative definition of Avari, then.

Mablung and Beleg, like most in Doriath, were Sindar, who are certainly not Avari. They definitely go down in recorded history.

Legolas is accounted as one of the Sindar, like his father. He might have been half something else (probably Silvan), from his mysterious mother, but he’d still be called a Sindar. Note that Galadriel herself is really only about one-quarter Noldor (half Teleri, one-quarter Vanyar) but is always counted among the Noldor. The titles and labels are applied by name, language, and culture as often as it is by blood, if not more so. (Which makes sense, given Tolkien’s love of language.) And even the Silvan Elves are Nandor/Teleri-based, which is usually quite distinct from the Avari.

The Avari being the usual term for the Elves who from the start truly declined the Valar’s summons. Whereas the Teleri all at least attempted the journey (then got famously sidetracked and splintered).

That said, sure, in deeper writings Tolkien worked on all the variations of the Elves' names for each other—like how the Noldor (Light-elves) eventually stopped calling their Sindarin friends in Beleriand by the term Moriquendi (Dark-elves):

In the period of Exile the Noldor modified their use of these terms, which was offensive to the Sindar. Kalaquendi went out of use, except in written Noldorin lore. Moriquendi was now applied to all other Elves, except the Noldor and Sindar, that is to Avari or to any kind of Elves that at the time of the coming of the Noldor had not long dwelt in Beleriand and were not subjects of Elwë.

But that level of nitty-gritty I try to avoid in articles like this except when it’s immediately relevant to the subject at hand. The Silmarillion certainly doesn’t go into those colloquialisms except in bits and pieces in the glossary. 

So using Avari to apply to all those Sindar is a stretch, and at times a technicality. I recently came across this passage in The War of the Jewels discussing the early Elf clans during their debate about whether to accept the Valar’s invitation. The Teleri group, who are also called the Nelyar at the time, are the most reluctant to go, and when it became apparent that a big portion of their people would be follow Elwë and Olwë to Valinor, the rest went only because they didn’t want to get separated from their friends and kin. So:

The Noldor indeed asserted that most of the ‘Teleri’ were at heart Avari, and that only the Eglain really regretted being left in Beleriand.

So yeah, the Sindarin are the most Avari-ish of the non-Avari. But they were not The Unwilling. 

What Did We Learn About Star Wars: The Rise of Skywalker from D23?

All I would ask is for Palpatine to just be a hologram or an impotent (but cunning) ghost—not for him to have survived his first fall. That would truly undermine Vader’s sacrifice. But if he can be manipulative from beyond the grave, I’m for it. 

Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

Hah! As a longtime Choose Your Own Adventure™ and Endless Quest™ fan, I could get behind that. If only Christopher had opted for that route with the HoMe books… 

Alas, this is probably the closest we’ll see to that.
 

Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

Ahh, right you are. Thanks, fixed. I can’t tell if I keep lumping Angrod and Aegnor together (because they both die at the same time, relatively speaking), or if I just keep excluding Orodreth since he seems to be the least effective Elf royal. There’s no forgetting Finrod, the best Elf that ever was.

Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

@32: That sort of thing will come up when I get to the Gift of Men article...

@33: Their teeth are surely great, even after all those millennia. An Elf has a strong hröa, or rather, her fëa's power over her hröa seems to be what makes it so well preserved. Elves' bodies are still made from the substance of Arda, just like mortals'.

@34: Nah, it wouldn't work like that for Men at all. They've got their own rules, after all. There is no re-embodying Men process. That quoted conversation between Manwë and Ilúvatar was about Elves alone. Beren's rebirth was unique to Men, but even there he remained mortal. And I would think Lúthien, too, inhabited her original body when she was allowed to live again. Neither Beren nor Lúthien ever existed in body in the Halls of Mandos. 

Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

@18: Possibly, although Elves slain in combat will still seem like death. Haldir’s death in the film needn’t dispel the fëa / hröa concept. His fëa just goes to Mandos, and no one in Middle-earth will ever see him again, except Elves who either sail to Valinor later or else suffer the same fate.

@19: Aman, due to the presence of the Valar, definitely does reduce or halt withering of all kinds, so hröar there are probably much stronger (a Vanyar Elf in Valinor would have to take quite a tumble down some seriously high stairs to break his neck, for example) and yeah, for having seen the light of the Two Trees any Elf would be more powerful. As for Fëanor, is that idea from an older iteration of the story or just some possibility you’re thinking of? Certainly the final Silmarillion Fëanor wasn’t seeking the strengthening of his people; he locked those gems away and denied all but his kin the sight of them, and that was before he really started going wrong…

@20: Hah, thanks. Valindor sounds like a bad knock-off of the Blessed Realm. Fixed.

 

Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

I can’t quote anything at the moment, Elaine, but I’m fairly certain Beren’s second life didn’t include any form of re-handing or regeneration. I don’t think Tolkien ever states it directly, but I seem to recall a couple of ways it’s implied. Ultimately, the "proof" might simply be that he’s given no other name beyond Beren, then Camlost (Empty-handed), then Erchamion (One-handed). And it’s Beren Erchamion that he’s still called at the time of his death in The Silmarillion. Since Tolkien is usually very deliberate and meaningful about his use of names, I’d say Beren is one-handed even when he dies that second and last time.

Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

@12, that would be cool. But indeed, it seems not to be what Tolkien had in mind. Amidst the Glorfindel lore, it's spelled out that allowing him to return to leave Aman after his re-embodiment was not an everyday event. His sacrifice truly leveled him up, and allowed a sort of promotion.

Tolkien’s Elves: How the Eldar Half Lives (and Lives, and Lives, and Lives)

Thanks, guys.

@3, no, not so regular a pattern (and probably not quite as many) as the Primer installments. But I do have at least 3 or 4 in mind, and probably more will follow.

Watch the Beautiful Final Trailer for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

Thomas, I certainly hope you're right—and I guess I mean the whole series, not the first "season," if they're doing a specific number of them. I also hope this series doesn't upstage the events of the original movie. In fact, I wish it was smaller scale, but that trailer looks epic indeed.

Watch the Beautiful Final Trailer for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

@4, you're absolutely right. They could set it way, way before....but I don't think they are.

What I am most interested in is how the Skesis are depicted. As established from other Dark Crystal source material (officially licenses comic books, etc.), there is a long period of time when the Skesis were not at all seen as bad. Think about what happens in the movie: we learn that Skeksis and Mystics are two halves of the same race. None of that is known for centuries. And while the Skesis do rule at the palace, at some point they have to be unmasked as villains. I sure would love to see them regarded as benevolent, even if it's only a facade. But from this trailer I don't think we're going to see them as anything but sinister from the get-go. 

Watch the Beautiful Final Trailer for The Dark Crystal: Age of Resistance

It does indeed look wonderful. Its strange, though. When you know where the original movie begins, it's hard not to compare this (at least to me) to the Star Wars prequels. This has to lead Thra's version of Order 66, except in better hands and with way more puppets! This series has to end with Thra falling into the Dark Ages (the Darkening?), since one of the last two Gelflings won't even know what writing is, as a concept.

 

But I really can't wait. 

Ted Nasmith Is the Bob Ross of Middle-earth

Thanks, Bonnie, for the kind words. And I'm glad you've stumbled upon these posts! A nice way to start my day...

The “Fellowship” of Amazon’s Middle-earth

Well, if Shippey's statement in his interview (as linked above) is accurate—though I'd say it sure does bear further explanation—the Third Age is "off-limits." And Isildur's fate (and his squire) is a matter of the Third Age.

Then again, it's all rather uncertain, since Amazon did post a few versions of the map at least one looks Third Age indeed.

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