Tolkien’s Dark Lords: Sauron, Dark Magic, and Middle-earth’s Enduring “Melkor-ingredient”

It definitely is fun to speculate on what, and what isn’t, tainted by Melkor. I would argue that things coming directly out of the Valar are not (including the Light of the Two Trees and the Trees themselves), but the Silmarils that caught that light were made by Fëanor out of . . . something we don’t know more about. It would likely be substances of Arda.

To me, it’s more interesting to wonder about the evils of the the world and how they would be different had Melkor been kept under lock and key in Mandos the first time, when he was dragged out of Utumno. It’s important to remember that by that point, the Marring had already occurred long before. If Manwë had decided against letting him go again, what then? The Children would have awakened each in their own time and would not be further harassed by Melkor directly. There would still be evil, for it was already in the world, and in fact Sauron and the Balrogs and other spirits corrupted by Melkor would still be in hiding for a time.

Would the Valar have still summoned the Elves to Valinor? Probably they still would, since they did so when Melkor was jailed anyway. 

There’d be no dragons. There’d be fewer Orcs in the world. Would Sauron have tried to take up the mantle of Dark Lord much earlier, with his old boss not coming back after all and taking over Angband? Who knows, but it’s fun to wonder. I wonder if it would have been as simple. Gothmog and other Balrogs would still be around. There’d be no leaguer of the Noldor; heck, the Noldor wouldn’t have left Valinor in the first place, since the Silmarils wouldn’t have been stolen and their king slain. I wonder how Men would have fared without the direct Shadow upon them (perhaps only smaller shadows of his making), and without having met the Noldor. 

A big loss not meeting Finrod! 

But there’d still be evil in the world, we know this. Again, Melkor had already done his worse deed in seeding his corruption in the substances of everything. 

What do you guys think?


Oh, and: Happy new year!

Tolkien’s Dark Lords: Sauron, Dark Magic, and Middle-earth’s Enduring “Melkor-ingredient”

Indeed, I don't think all who do evil who aren't Melkor are excused or given some kind of free pass. I doubt Tolkien was looking at it that way. Evil may have its origins in him, but complicity is easy to achieve. Evil has been made possible; it's there for the taking. 

The Blessed Meaninglessness of The Nightmare Before Christmas

I think the specialness of Christmas is all that truly matters in this one, and all they're going for. Each person and thing has its place, and even when someone steps out of line (like Jack does, big time), he's obviously forgiven by the offended party (Santa) in the end. No harm, no foul. Because it's a bit of a fairytale world.

Well, at least they're excited
Though they don't understand
That special kind of feeling in Christmasland
Oh, well.

One could even deduce a bit more world-building and meaning from Patrick Stewart's original opening.

Tolkien’s Dark Lords: Sauron, Dark Magic, and Middle-earth’s Enduring “Melkor-ingredient”

@14 Right. We hear so much about Morgoth's efforts with Men, it's really hard to give Sauron the credit. Again, it comes down to lack of textual evidence. We're told that Maedhros (bold emphasis is mine):

made alliance with these new-come Men, and gave his friendship to the greatest of their chieftains, Bór and Ulfang. And Morgoth was well content; for this was as he had designed.

Sure, Sauron could have been given a role in all this, but it's still not his curriculum. He'd be some kind of emmisary, at best, during the First Age. And there is no mention of him leaving Beleriand until he's forced to flee with all Morgoth's other servants at the end of the War of Wrath.

Sauron definitely picks up the pieces with Men, when Morgoth is gone. Hence riding his boss's coattails. But I really think he singlehandedly corrupted the race of Men, made their lives shorter and inspired their fear of death and resistance to Eru, we'd have heard about it. I honestly think it's upstages the Rings of Power, and certainly the corrupting of the Nine. Enslaving the Nazgûl doesn't even seem like that big a deal against the backdrop of his having made Men so corruptible in the first place. In "Of the Rings of Power and the Third Age" chapter:

but to Men he gave nine, for Men proved in this matter as in others the readiest to his will.

That word, "proved in this matter," could just as well be read as "turned out to be." Like it was a nice development for Sauron that Men were easy to ensnare. But if he was the guy to have done all that, Tolkien would have been really underselling Sauron.

Tolkien’s Dark Lords: Sauron, Dark Magic, and Middle-earth’s Enduring “Melkor-ingredient”

@14 I considered that theory, of Sauron being the corrupter of Men, but too much text refers to Morgoth having a stronger hand in it. Plus corrupting Men would be a way bigger deal than just about everything else he accomplished. It’d be like burying the lede by not mentioning it anywhere else.

Tolkien’s Dark Lords: Sauron, Dark Magic, and Middle-earth’s Enduring “Melkor-ingredient”

Thank you, Moderator and srEDIT. :)

@3 It’s not just Dwarves, though. Kind of explains anyone’s greed for gold. Even the dragon sickness from Smaug feels overlapped. The Master of Lake-town was no Dwarf, and he ended up abandoned and starved in the Wastes.

@5 and @7 Right. Sauron had already been “killed” in body once already when he had to face off in hand-to-hand combat with Gil-galad and Elendil, and that was clearly a rough fight for all involved. Sauron was doing what Morgoth had done and for the same reasons: trapped in a solid body, it was risky to go out and pick too many fights. If you get unbodied, it’s going to take a long time to coalesce your power again. Hence Morgoth only came up that one time to deal with Fingolfin, and though he was victorious there, he took some lasting hurts. 

@9 Thanks. I’ve been wanting to realize that joke since the moment I read the words ‘Melkor-ingredient.’ Tolkien said a lot of things very seriously that I found comical in my head. And yep, you named some good ones for the because-of-Morgoth list. Also, “shipping.”Now, not all commercials are equally terrible, but I can probably attribute an impressive number of irritating commercial earworms forever burned into my brain to Morgoth. Like My Buddy or the Liberty Mutual Insurance ads.

@10 “Grows thin our list of allies does.” (Yes, yes, that’s a film Elrond quote.)





Twenty New Cast Members Join Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series

Not recognizing new faces is excellent. I'm rather tired of seeing some of the same old faces. The only thing that makes me cringe is when I hear some member of the new team (actor or otherwise) having anything to do with Game of Thrones. Then I'm a little worried.

Twenty New Cast Members Join Amazon’s Lord of the Rings Series

Though I am still apprehensive about the story content and the treatment of the text, I absolutely like the look of this cast 

Fey and Fury: When Noldor Attack!

@68: Of course. But maybe Fëanor is so extra (as the kids say) that he's got multiple fëar and hröar crammed into his exceptional being.

Fixed my mistype above. ;)

Fey and Fury: When Noldor Attack!

Either way, and as much as I like to point fingers at Fëanor for his repeated wrongdoing and his de-evolution into a mini-Melkor, he is badass. And he’s such an interesting player in the entire drama of Arda. His life’s end would be more glorifying, I think, if he didn’t do it while screwing over his sons so badly (and through them, countless Elves who had to contend with them later). The fact that he burns up, that his fëa consumes his hröa in an instant is also fascinating. That happens to no one else. Spirit of fire indeed.

And one thing no one can ever saddle Fëanor with is cowardice. Even Morgoth is craven, for he hides in his fortress basement most of the time and only even came out to face Fingolfin because he’d have looked like a coward if he hadn’t. I can’t see Fëanor doing that ever. He’d be quick to face his accusers or his opponents.

Fey and Fury: When Noldor Attack!

@63: I don’t see how it’s a misrepresentation. There’s no commentary or speculation about Fëanor’s confidence “crumbling” here as you say. In fact, to the contrary, I said intrepid because he’s fearless even in defeat. The sum total of Balrogs is why he’s defeated; history merely ascribes the final “hit” to Gothmog, and introduces him (Gothmog) to us.

But you revisiting this quote does lead me to make one alteration to my own words: “cannot stand long” to “cannot stand indefinitely.” I was thinking long in the Elvish sense, but it’s clearer this way, since the text does say “long.”

Let’s Celebrate Tolkien Week (By Force of Hobbit)!

@33 Fatty Bolger, good call.

And thanks for the share! Gosh, I'm not really into filk music, but I do like some songs here and there. And I see this "Fellowship Going South" is performed by Julie Ecklar, who I only ever knew from her Elfquest music. (I wasn't even big into Elfquest as a kid, but I did like that album!)

Rankin & Bass’ The Hobbit Predicted the Future of Pop Culture

@2 I'm with you. When I get to the casualty report at the end of the Battle of the Five Armies, I'm still shocked that they upped the number of deaths in this kids movie. Maybe that's because in the book, more dwarves do join the battle (not part of Thorin's company), and maybe they wanted to reflect that as a concept here. Still...dang. I was glad when I was older and learned that only three of the company died.

Let’s Celebrate Tolkien Week (By Force of Hobbit)!

The proportions are a bit more humanish than we usually see, but if you look at Donatao Giancola's other works, this seems to be his preference for Hobbits. I don't recall that Tolkien addresses proportions, just approximate heights, etc. Certainly these three are leaner than most, but I think it's in keeping with his style. Compare a side by side with a taller figure:

Let’s Celebrate Tolkien Week (By Force of Hobbit)!

@1 and @10, votes for Merry! (Not that we’re voting.) Yeah, Merry is an easy sell, and yes, nearly as mature as Frodo (and becomes at least his match as time goes by). He does so many good things, but his partnership with Éowyn is the sweet spot to me. Both come from such different worlds but in that moment of time become restrained and frustrated in the same ways, forming such a remarkable relationship.

Regarding the illustration “Then There Were Three,” I’ve asked Donato himself about it. Maybe he'll weigh in.

@14, I wouldn’t say evolution doesn’t exist in Middle-earth. I think the concept is there, and applicable, but it plays out differently. It’s just not characterized in the same way as it is for us. Consider the Avari, the Unwilling, the Elves who didn’t even begin to follow Oromë on the great journey to Valinor. They are the Dark Elves, the Moriquendi, and physically/spiritually it’s implied that they’re a bit different from the Eldar, those who made it to Valinor and became the Calaquendi and even from those who remained on Middle-earth and also are considered Dark Elves for not having seen the Two Trees. Is that evolution? Not…exactly? But Men splinter and take on different physical characteristics: the Lossoth, the Drúedain, the Easterlings, the Southrons, the Dunlendings, the Woses; how did those distinctions come about if not by evolution based on region? I don’t think each group of Men forking off in a new direction was followed by a Maia who worked to alter them as time progressed.

As for Treebeard, yeah, he’s very old and very wise, but even Tolkien second guesses him for us. He doesn’t hold that all his ancient characters have all the facts. Even Gandalf is mistaken sometimes (like when he says at the Council that the Ringwraiths have their rings; it’s said elsewhere that Sauron keeps them). In his draft letter to Peter Hastings (Letter 153), from The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien), Tolkien wrote:

Treebeard is a character in my story, not me; and though he has a great memory and some earthy wisdom, he is not one of the Wise, and there is quite a lot he does not know or understand.

That was on the topic of the nature of Orcs (which I intend to write about soon), but the point is that Tolkien makes his characters fallible so I wouldn’t hold everything Treebeard says as truth. His classification of the races and of Hobbits is endearing and wonderful, but I don’t think an accurate roster for Middle-earth.

In the HoMe books, when Tolkien refers to the final fate of Frodo (after departing from the Grey Havens), his fate sure sounds like the fate of Men.

Let’s Celebrate Tolkien Week (By Force of Hobbit)!

@3: Perhaps that was used as a temporary promotional cover for Hexwood or something? (I can see that book’s had many different covers.)

In any case, I trust the artist‘s own words regarding the painting, from his art book Middle-earth: Journeys in Myth and Legend:

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: The Giver of Gifts and the Wise-women of Middle-earth

Yeah, I think Dr. Thanatos has it right. The Gift of Death is what some call it, but it could just as well be called the Gift of Being In the World Only a Short Space of time. Like a hall pass for Arda. Aragorn’s time of holding onto it, and being active in the world, is up, so he’ll return it to the one who gave it to him. He won’t try to hang onto that hall pass indefinitely to go and smoke in the bathroom (like those latter-day Númenóreans).

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: The Giver of Gifts and the Wise-women of Middle-earth

It might be overstating to say he’s was an all-out fan or anything. Here’s one such:

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: The Giver of Gifts and the Wise-women of Middle-earth

@6, well, Morgoth is kicked out of Arda for sure (which is what’s most relevant here). Through the Door of Night and into the Void itself. That does imply, perhaps, that he’s exiled from Eä (the universe) itself, right? If you’re in Eä,  you’re not in the Void. So yes, it might be more technical to say that Morgoth was ousted from all of Eä; kind of makes me think he’s shot through some kind of worm-hole from the Doors of Night to the outer edge of Eä, but then I’m thinking about this very spatially. I’m not sure Tolkien’s universe requires that kind of thinking. I’m not sure it’s 100% clear, but now I’m going to look into it again.

Arda is still quite big, though. We tend to think of it as the planet itself, but it is more than that. It’s also the “upper airs” of Ilmen, and the Firmament, under which the Sun and Moon sweep through. This has to mean Arda alone still includes a huge swath of stars and other celestial bodies. 

Oh, look, I had worked up a visual for the end of the War of Wrath:

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: The Giver of Gifts and the Wise-women of Middle-earth

@4 Right. In some ways it's all part of a bigger conversation: that Tolkien's pondering of reworking some cosmic circumstances would have involved tinkering at all levels. And that may be the why it doesn't fit neatly. And I do agree with you: I also like the Lamps, and the Trees, preceding the Sun and Moon. It makes this mythology so much more original than other worlds. 

Mortal Men Doomed to Die: The Giver of Gifts and the Wise-women of Middle-earth

I would have been disappointed if mentioning gifts didn't summon you, Dr. Thanatos. ;)

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

Part 2 wasn't delayed. It arrived precisely when it meant to.

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

Well sure. We all get to take the text we’re presented with and run with it in our direction. Sometimes we use our imagination and try to envision the secondary world as close to Tolkien’s vision as is feasible, and sometimes we can just dive deep in fan fiction. As long as it’s not confused with actual Tolkien, there’s no harm.

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

That's murky stuff, Ben. Fun to talk about, hard to pin down firmly.

The Children might not have come up as a concept until after Melkor's discord (and maybe in part to counter it?), but they also showed up after Melkor actually came down and physically and spiritual messed with Arda and officially marred it.

The fading of the Elves, and possibly the mortality of Men, was still intended all along (marring or no marring), but the actual discomfort and discord of the way they experience life and death on Arda is surely purely of the marring. It seems theorized in various places that the Elves were never meant to have their fëar and hröar separated at all (temporary death before rehousing), but due to the marring they can be, and the Valar had to suss out the specifics. Even if Arda went unmarred, Elves were still supposed to fade eventually.

FYI, the "sequel to this topic," as I mentioned above, should be appearing soon.

“Infinite and Transcendent” — Artist Kip Rasmussen on Depicting Tolkien’s Silmarillion

@3, I've just replaced that link with a new one, as recommended by Kip. And he provided this one as well:

Here's my favorite piece from that CD. Feels like Varda at the creation to me.
“Infinite and Transcendent” — Artist Kip Rasmussen on Depicting Tolkien’s Silmarillion

I wanted to add that Kip also recently had his Varda painting featured in the Tolkien Society bulletin, Amon Hen:

Monsters Are Scary, But White Supremacy Is the Real Terror: Lovecraft Country, “Sundown”

I was skeptical about this, but the first episode blew me away. I really, really like what they've got started here, and somehow I like the three main characters more than the story itself. (Sadly, since it's HBO, I'm not sure I'll be able to watch the rest of it. There are only so many dollars one can spend on channels and streaming services. Alas.)

The Misappropriation of the Rings (and the Third Age)

Much appreciated, srEDIT. For your kind words and well wishes. I hope you're also safe and sane.

I know, it has been a while! Times have been...well, crazy, of course. Working from home hasn't exactly been easier, but in the grand scheme I have on complaints. In any case, I do have one Delving mostly done and two others floating around as ideas. They're . . . coming.

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

Tim, thanks for stopping in to say this. It gladdens my heart. I'm jealous. I would have trouble choosing which to have a print of, if I had to choose...

And yeah, Kip's such an easygoing chap!

Welcome to the Silmarillion Primer: An Introduction

Jim! Awesome! You found it. :)  Welcome, and thanks for your hospitality last weekend. And for sharing your blog link here, too. You're in good company here; so many Tolkien fans coming and going.

I get alerts for every comment made on any of these articles that I've written, so feel free to comment anytime. I'll stop in each time.

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

Hah. Thanks. The sequel to this one is...still in draft form. Quarantine and work-life, you know? But it’s still coming

Peter Jackson, Tom Skerrit, and More Remember Ian Holm

Another of us to head beyond the Circles of the World, leaving some solid memories behind.



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. :)

Our Privacy Notice has been updated to explain how we use cookies, which you accept by continuing to use this website. To withdraw your consent, see Your Choices.