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Old September 1 2008, 04:09 AM   #1
S. Gomez
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A Journey Through Middle-earth

So I've mentioned in the Sci-Fi/Fantasy Reading thread that I've started in on a "Quest" of sorts: to read everything I can about J.R.R. Tolkien and Middle-earth (and in an awful lot of cases, re-reading). Not necessarily everything, just all the major stuff I can. This is the plan I've started off with (my sig should tell you where I am). It'll probably get adjusted in a couple places:

J.R.R. Tolkien: A Biography by Humphrey Carpenter
The Hobbit
The History of 'The Hobbit', Parts I & II by John D. Rateliff
Tales From The Perilous Realm (Not strictly Middle-earth, but I remember "Farmer Giles of Ham" being awesome. I've learned that there's an Alan Lee-illustrated edition about to come out, so I want to wait to get that; thus, this might be delayed.)
The Lord of The Rings--50th Anniversary Edition (with The Lord of The Rings: A Reader's Companion)
Tolkien And C.S. Lewis: The Gift of Friendship by Colin Duriez
The Silmarillion
Unfinished Tales
The Children of Hurin

I'm also armed with Robert Foster's The Complete Guide To Middle-earth. And if I manage to get through all that and still want more, I have a plan for the History of Middle-earth series plus other stuff.

Now before you start going, "Oh goody, a first-time reader"... I'm hardly that! I've been quite familiar with The Hobbit and The Lord of The Rings since childhood, and this will mark my third reading of The Silmarillion. But one of the reasons I want to do this is because I find it very hard to discuss Tolkien with other people who know so much more than I do about the larger mythology, and can trace the lineages and backgrounds from memory. While I don't expect to be able to do that exactly, I'm hoping that I'll become as conversant in the stories of the First and Second Ages--the stories that, for some reason, I can follow as I read but slip out the back door of my mind afterwards; I know who Beren and Luthien are, for example, but I'd be hard-pressed to give you a good summary of their story. And it's always fun to share a journey with others. So with that in mind, here are some of the notes I made for myself while reading The Hobbit:

1) So Glamdring, Orcrist, and Sting were made in Gondolin (and Glamdring was the sword of King Turgon). How exactly did they end up in a troll's hoard at the eastern edge of The Shire? There's clearly a story to be told there, but Tolkien never wrote one.

2) Who are the "bold men of the South" making their way up into the regions between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood (the people the Wargs and goblins are raiding)? Are they random humans, or connected to other groups like the Dunedain or Gondorians?

3) Exactly when did Gandalf meet and befriend Gwaihir, Lord of the Eagles?

4) So apparently the Wood-elves have taught the men of Laketown to make lembas, only the men call it cram (their own unique recipe?).

(Okay, so that all turned out so much longer than I thought it would. Sorry. )
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Old September 1 2008, 06:37 AM   #2
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

A worthy quest you've embarked on...

From The Hobbit, "Out of the Frying-pan and into the Fire":

The wizard and the eagle-lord appeared to know each other slightly, and even to be on friendly terms. As a matter of fact Gandalf, who had often been in the mountains, had once rendered a service to the eagles and healed their lord from an arrow-wound.
There isn't anything in the History of Middle-Earth series which bears on that IIRC, so I guess JRRT never elaborated it.... given the long history of the Eagles' aid to the elves and the men of the West and the presumed friendship between Radagast and Gwaihir it's not surprising that Gandalf and he would have interacted at some point. Gandalf had been in Middle-Earth for around two thousand years at this point, so he had time to get around!

I also don't see any obvious connection for the "bold men of the South"... the Rohirrim had long since moved south, perhaps it was some of their remnants who still lived there? I gather there were more men living in that region than just the people of Eorl.

...and I don't thing cram is the same thing as lembas. Inspired by it, perhaps, but the Elves say it's better tasting than cram and Gimli agrees and says it's better than the honey-cakes of the Beornings. They're both designed to do the same job but of course the elder race does it better and with more style. Like beef jerky vs. trail mix.

And the trail of the swords from Gondolin to the Misty Mountains would be a cool story to write... since Gandalf knows their names and history I'd wager they were borne by those like Galadriel who did not answer the call to Valinor after the War of Wrath, thus escaping Beleriand's destruction, and then lost in combat at some point along the way, perhaps vs. Angmar?
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Old September 1 2008, 06:04 PM   #3
S. Gomez
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

Klaus wrote: View Post
A worthy quest you've embarked on...

From The Hobbit, "Out of the Frying-pan and into the Fire":

The wizard and the eagle-lord appeared to know each other slightly, and even to be on friendly terms. As a matter of fact Gandalf, who had often been in the mountains, had once rendered a service to the eagles and healed their lord from an arrow-wound.
There isn't anything in the History of Middle-Earth series which bears on that IIRC, so I guess JRRT never elaborated it.... given the long history of the Eagles' aid to the elves and the men of the West and the presumed friendship between Radagast and Gwaihir it's not surprising that Gandalf and he would have interacted at some point. Gandalf had been in Middle-Earth for around two thousand years at this point, so he had time to get around!
Oh yeah. I was just wondering if there was an exact year for it. Apparently there isn't, nor any sign of whose bow that arrow would have been fired from. Hmm. Another mysterious corner of Middle-earth.

...and I don't thing cram is the same thing as lembas. Inspired by it, perhaps, but the Elves say it's better tasting than cram and Gimli agrees and says it's better than the honey-cakes of the Beornings. They're both designed to do the same job but of course the elder race does it better and with more style. Like beef jerky vs. trail mix.


And the trail of the swords from Gondolin to the Misty Mountains would be a cool story to write... since Gandalf knows their names and history I'd wager they were borne by those like Galadriel who did not answer the call to Valinor after the War of Wrath, thus escaping Beleriand's destruction, and then lost in combat at some point along the way, perhaps vs. Angmar?
Funny you should talk about a story to write: that's just what I want to do! Before I duck from the stones thrown by the purists, I'll only note the interesting fact that Gandalf apparently can't read the writing on the swords; Elrond is the one who tells us. But maybe the wizard was just being polite? More seriously, could the writing have changed somehow between the First Age and the Third? I know it's called the Feanorian alphabet, but still. Mind, we probably shouldn't look to closely at the differences between Gandalf in The Hobbit and Gandalf in The Lord of The Rings...

Elrond does do some speculating on the sword's history: "They must have come from a dragon's hoard or goblin plunder, for dragons and goblins destroyed that city many ages ago...one may guess that your trolls plundered other plunderers, or come on the remnants of old robberies in some hold in the mountains." But then he's just guessing.
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Old September 1 2008, 06:42 PM   #4
Brendan Moody
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

It's not entirely clear that Gwaihir and the Lord of the Eagles from The Hobbit are the same character. In "The Field of Cormallen" chapter in Return of the King, Gandalf says, "Twice have you borne me, Gwaihir my friend... Thrice shall pay for all," and that count would be higher if you include the Lord of the Eagles carrying Gandalf out of the tree in The Hobbit. Obviously you can argue around this if you want to ("he means recently," etc.), but at any rate it's something that people have debated in the past.
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Old September 1 2008, 06:53 PM   #5
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

^Ah, I hadn't realized that before. Hmm...
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Old September 2 2008, 10:57 PM   #6
S. Gomez
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

Just finished reading Rateliff's chapter on "Riddles In The Dark", Gollum, and the ring. As expected, there's certainly a lot to chew on!

In an earlier section, though, he does raise another interesting point in relation to the swords: since Elrond is descended directly from Turgon (though I'll have to take his word for it!) why doesn't he lay claim to Glamdring as its rightful heir? There's the obvious "behind the scenes" explanation, but what would the "in-universe" one be?
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Old September 3 2008, 02:35 AM   #7
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

S. Gomez wrote: View Post

1) So Glamdring, Orcrist, and Sting were made in Gondolin (and Glamdring was the sword of King Turgon). How exactly did they end up in a troll's hoard at the eastern edge of The Shire? There's clearly a story to be told there, but Tolkien never wrote one.
within the story itself, Thorin actually says "how the heck did this stuff get from Gondolin to the Trollshaws?" and Gandalf theorizes that "thieves stole from thieves" several times over....i.e., orcs from the attack on Gondolin stole them from the ruins, only to be robbed by another group of orcs who brought them east, only in turn to be robbed by Trolls who brought them further east, etc.

2) Who are the "bold men of the South" making their way up into the regions between the Misty Mountains and Mirkwood (the people the Wargs and goblins are raiding)? Are they random humans, or connected to other groups like the Dunedain or Gondorians?
There are basically three groups of Men:

1 - Men of Light - the Dunedain; the two Dunedain kingdoms were Arnor in the north, and Gondor in the south. Arnor got wiped out, save for a handful of survivors, who became the Rangers (Aragorn's people) while Gondor survived in the south

2 - Men of Darkness - the Easterlings and Haradrim, those Men from the far reaches of Middle-earth that never contacted the Elves and who serve Sauron

3 - Men of Twilight - "good" men who aren't Dunedain. They are often descendants of the Edain and thus distant cousins of the Dunedain (the "Edain" were the original group, most went to Numenor and thus became "the Dunedain", but some Edain never left and they scattered around). These are men such as "the Northmen" of Rhovanion (north of Gondor, south of Mirkwood), which is actually a wide group of several peoples. One group of Northmen migrated around a bit before coming south to the plains of Rohan, and became the Rohirrim. The men of Dale are another branch. Some of the other Northmen moved north of Rhovanion, following the river Anduin upstream, and these are the woodmen of Mirkwood.


4) So apparently the Wood-elves have taught the men of Laketown to make lembas, only the men call it cram (their own unique recipe?).

(Okay, so that all turned out so much longer than I thought it would. Sorry. )
NOOOOOO.

Cram is awful travelling-bread, basically a "chewing exercise" more than "food" and while nutritious it tastes awful and is hard to chew. But it keeps well so its good for trips. Its like dehydrated food but without the water added back in.

Lembas, however, is the traveling bread of the Elves, and tastes WONDERFUl; its the best bread you've ever eaten; and "a single bite out of one loaf is enough to fill the stomach of a grown man for a whole day"

was Cram the bad and failed human attempt to imitate Lembas?....er, I don't think even that; Tolkien said the Elves rarely if ever even shared Lembas with other races much less the recipe.
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Old September 3 2008, 02:45 AM   #8
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

S. Gomez wrote: View Post
Just finished reading Rateliff's chapter on "Riddles In The Dark", Gollum, and the ring. As expected, there's certainly a lot to chew on!

In an earlier section, though, he does raise another interesting point in relation to the swords: since Elrond is descended directly from Turgon (though I'll have to take his word for it!) why doesn't he lay claim to Glamdring as its rightful heir? There's the obvious "behind the scenes" explanation, but what would the "in-universe" one be?

possibly, but Elrond doesn't really NEED another sword, so it would easily be written off as a matter of that Elrond wants his friends and allies to have them, instead of just gathering dust in Rivendell


***as you follow the dynastic fights between the Noldor (High-Elves) you wonder: who is the rightful "High-King" (overlord of all Noldor) after Gil-Galad died?

apparently, the elves were so weak after the War of the Last Alliance that they just didn't bother having one again.

on the one hand, Elrond MIGHT be considered the rightful heir, but he never laid claim to it....possibly because he is part-human? Galadriel is the other highest-ranking surviving Elf, but she is of House Finarfin, and female, so we don't know if she could.

Either way, the job of "leadership of the Elves" in the Third Age seems to be loosely run by Elrond and Galadriel together (she is his mother in law, after all) with Cirdan helping out from time to time.

btw, there is no such thing as a "half-elf race"; if you are born to one elf and one man parent, you have to choose, before you die, which race you will be "counted" as; so while Elrond is "half-elven" and half-man by descent, he CHOSE to be counted as an "Elf" and for all intents and purposes is considered a full "Elf" now
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Old September 3 2008, 04:32 AM   #9
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

^^it always amused me that Aragorn and Arwen are cousins... one generation on her side and about seventy on his...


..and though the book focuses on Galadriel don't forget Celeborn, who is Lord of Lórien...

"Your quest is known to us," said Galadriel, looking at Frodo. "But we will not here speak of it more openly. Yet not in vain will it prove, maybe, that you came to this land seeking aid, as Gandalf himself plainly purposed. For the Lord of the Galadhrim is accounted the wisest of the Elves of Middle-Earth, and a giver of gifts beyond the power of kings. He has dwelt in the West since the days of dawn, and I have dwelt with him years uncounted; for ere the fall of Nargothrond or Gondolin I passed over the mountains, and together we have fought the long defeat."
--- FotR, "The Mirror of Galadriel"

Elrond, Círdan, Celeborn, and Galadriel would be top of the power structure of the Elves in Middle-earth after the Second Age. And the Istari, who are Maiar and were sent by the Valar to help after all!

...and somewhere in Mirkwood, Thranduil is muttering that he's also important... one wonders if Legolas felt like the country mouse visiting the city mouse in Lórien lol!
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Old September 3 2008, 04:38 AM   #10
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

"A Journey Through Middle Earth"


Funny you started this thread because I thought it was going to be about something else. I thought maybe you were planning a trip to New Zealand, which would have been quite a coincidence since,



[screams with joy to make everybody here jealous]


I just paid my deposit to Red Carpet Tours(The Official LOTR NZ tour company)to take their tour next March!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!


*Does happy dance of joy*


http://www.redcarpet-tours.com/
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Old September 3 2008, 04:42 AM   #11
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

^Awesome! You need to tell us all about your trip when you go.
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Old September 3 2008, 04:53 AM   #12
Tulin
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

Try to stop me!!!




We are looking at a helicopter flight over the Ford of Bruinen to round out our time in Queenstown(bungey jumping is a toss up at the moment!). The tour operators are being REALLY helpful, answering all our questions and arranging things for us. The nice thing is, the tour starts in Matamata - the site of Hobbiton, so we kinda go off in chronological order.

I have already ascertained that there are three places where we can buy Weta reproductions of the Elven brooches worn by the hobbits, including the new official Weta merchandise shop, the Weta Cave, where will be going and seeing their film. I know about eight people here who want one of them!

Here is their website,

http://www.wetanz.com/cave/


March 9th cannot come soon enough!!!!
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Old September 3 2008, 05:01 AM   #13
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

Very nice! One of my favorite geek totems is a LotR NZ phone card a coworker who went there right as filming was ending got for me.
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Old September 3 2008, 05:33 AM   #14
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

Tulin wrote: View Post
Try to stop me!!!




We are looking at a helicopter flight over the Ford of Bruinen to round out our time in Queenstown(bungey jumping is a toss up at the moment!). The tour operators are being REALLY helpful, answering all our questions and arranging things for us. The nice thing is, the tour starts in Matamata - the site of Hobbiton, so we kinda go off in chronological order.

I have already ascertained that there are three places where we can buy Weta reproductions of the Elven brooches worn by the hobbits, including the new official Weta merchandise shop, the Weta Cave, where will be going and seeing their film. I know about eight people here who want one of them!

Here is their website,

http://www.wetanz.com/cave/


March 9th cannot come soon enough!!!!
Wow, I'm jealous. "New Zealand... It's Like LOTR!!!"

It's too bad you aren't going to be there in '10 when they are filming the Hobbit though. Or rather, it's a shame they aren't beginning the filming next year while you are there.
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Old September 3 2008, 06:14 AM   #15
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Re: A Journey Through Middle-earth

Actually, we decided to go in '09 based on the filming. I figure some of the locations will be closed off once filming begins and I want to see as much as I can.

Besides, my Virginblue airfare to Auckland is like $360 - maybe I'll go back!
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