My First Post: A trip down memory lane

There is a thing that the young folk do, called Throwback Thursday (TT? TBT?). I would like to make clear that I am not making this throwback-ish post because it is a Thursday, but because I am writing it on Wednesday night and it occurred to me that I could put it up on a Thursday as one of those modern 'the good ol' days' sort of thing.
If I have not mentioned it already, I am an old lady at heart.

It is time to take a little jaunt back down memory lane, and speak of how this blog came about. As you know, the whole point is just to provide an outlet for my love of Tolkien, and hopefully an enjoyable experience for some other Tolkienites, but that is not the true origin story.
My very first post was published on September 12th, 2014. It was very stiff, and short, and trying far too hard to sound professional. To be precise, it was actually neat and informative and I should probably write all of them like that, but I don't. The reason I describe it as stiff and unpleasant, is because it in no way reflects anything of me, except perhaps that I like Tolkien.

As I have grown more comfortable with this blog, I have relapsed into writing in a way that displays my actual personality. I rant, and I get sidetracked, and I scream at you very passionately about how much I like things and how you should too.  It is probably far less pleasant to read, but there is no point in pretending to be something that I'm not. I am not, and shall never be an abrupt and professional person, as long as Tolkien is concerned. Believe me, if you had to talk to me in person about Tolkien, it would be far worse.
Sometimes I curl up into a little ball and hum like a mad thing because I have no words for how much I love something.
Conversations often go something like this:
other person: "wow, I love Sam."
me: "yes, he's so amazing it's's.....he's......grrrrbrrbrle....I love him so much...he's so amazing....gaaahhh, Tolkien is so gooooood.....brrrbrle."
My dear friend, known to the mystical world that is the internet as Lady Awdur, can attest to the accuracy of the example provided above.

 When talking Tolkien, my true self is bound to emerge. I can't contain myself. When my hero is challenged or insulted, politeness goes out the window. He must be defended. I often don't trust myself to speak and have to leave quickly before I harm someone or explode.

My first post, cleverly titled "2948 TA", is also a tad pretentious, speaking in an affected 'old fashioned' sort of way. I was trying terribly hard to impress - whom, I could not say.
"There also it is told how Eowyn and Meriadoc killed the Witch King and how Minas Tirith was saved."

I started this blog with high ideals. A strange and foolish part of me said something along the lines of: "It's going to be this huge website and have forums and members and they're going to ask questions and I am magically going to have time to post every day and everyone will love it and I'm going to be the queen of England."
Somewhere along the way, I realized how ridiculous that was, and also that time is rather a difficult thing to come by, and also is it really a good idea to become so wrapped up in a Tolkien themed blog that you don't have time to read Tolkien? Is that really what he would have liked? No, he specifically disliked those people.
It's rather difficult to pinpoint an exact post that marks my transition to a more book oriented blog. The part where I started enjoying it. The part where I actually gave up the silly plans and started having decent ideas. The part where I thought to myself "I'm going to do the entire Lord of the Rings and post on the days when things actually happened". I'm going to say it was around the time of: A Very Long and Uncoordinated Rant when I came into my own. This post was followed by a piece of very annoying chatter, and then another 'actual post' about Faramir's birth.
At that point, the formatting was still horrid, punctuation seemed a lost cause, and apparently it had never occurred to me that hitting return every now and then could be beneficial.

Two posts later, and I figured out how to break things up into sections, and add pertinent images (I have since turned away from pictures to a certain extent).

Next came my "I'm so informative" phase, comprised of labelling things like so:
Appendix A>>Annals of the Kings and Rulers>> II. The House of Eorl>>The Kings of the Mark>>Third Line>>Eomer Eadig
Because Appendix A wasn't enough? And from the beginning to the post "Caras Galadhon" I was in what I like to call my apologetic phase where for some reason I always felt bad for not being perfectly on time with posts that went up on a blog that no one actually read. I still hadn't figured out how to enjoy it for myself.
Then came Caras Galadhon I figured out formatting, I figured out how to integrate my rambling nature with conveying the information I needed to convey. I figured out that I could have the more concise parts, and save my rants for posts of their own. Everything did not always need to be said the moment I thought it.
This blog is two years old, but it only properly started on February 14th of this year. Thus began the Red Book that I hope you have come to know and love. At any rate, I have come to love it for what it is. To love writing it not because I hope someone else will read and the view count will go up, but because I enjoy it. A place where I put myself, not a place where myself puts things.

Incidentally, that may have been the first post that got a comment. (Thank you Fawnabelle!)
I have really, really enjoyed writing this blog, and because of it I have spent more, rather than less, time reading Tolkien. I also think my family is happy that I have somewhere else to vent, because it means I won't burble at them. At least, not quite as much.

And that is the origin story of this little collection of zeros and ones.
Until next time!

Some of my favorite posts (and favorite parts of the book):
The Battle of Pelennor Fields....excuse me while I go weep internally about Theoden.

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QUOTES: Riddles in the Dark

"It cannot be seen, cannot be felt,
Cannot be heard, cannot be smelt. 
It lies behind stars and under hills, 
And empty holes it fills. 
It comes first and follows after, 
Ends life, kills laughter."

~JRR Tolkien, The Hobbit

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(Lest there should be any confusion or matter of rights and whatnot, all quotes in this post are from The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, unless otherwise mentioned. There may be slight errors, misspellings, or alternate punctuation in the quotes, and if you notice such, please inform me so that I can speedily remedy them. But I think the fact that I made this blog proves that I would never intentionally change something of Tolkien's in the transcribing of it.)

QUOTES: Farmer Giles of Ham

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"A man who has a large and imperial dragon grovelling before him may be excused if he feels somewhat uplifted."

(Background image by Alan Lee, Text by Tolkien)

The Little Things: ROTK's 61st Anniversary

When Peter Jackson’s movie adaptation of The Return of the King came out, many viewers complained that there were ‘too many endings’, obviously those people would never have made it through the book.

I think that for such a long book, with so much going on and so many different characters who all have different stories of their own, there were surprisingly few endings. For instance, when the book was first read aloud to me, I was annoyed that I didn’t get to see anything more to do with Faramir and Eowyn, in fact, pretty much the only part I was satisfied with was the hobbits. I later discovered the appendices when I first read the book on my own, and realized that Tolkien felt much the same way I had, and added on loads of information in the form of the appendices, cutting short the actual book for the benefit of those of his fans with smaller attention spans. 
I was then ridiculously disappointed not to see the Scouring of the Shire in the movies, but I understand why they made the decision to cut it. 

Also, if you are angry at the movies for the stuff they changed, just watch the Appendices that come with the extended edition (which you ought to have) and all will be made clear. That said, I would REALLY have loved to see the Scouring of the Shire in there, because I consider it to be very very important. 
Many consider it unnecessary and out of place. Some are even annoyed by it, because they don’t like to have the idyllic nature of the Shire corrupted. It is the one thing in that whole world that was simply a place of pure innocence and peace, untouched by the evils of the outside world. That’s exactly the point. Nothing is completely safe. No one is perfectly pure and innocent. 

The Silmarillion shows us how evil was woven into Arda even before its creation. Because of this, nothing on Arda is untainted. It is, in a sense, an allegory (I’m sorry, Tolkien!) for Original Sin. Even the undying lands are not safe from Morgoth. 

What Tolkien is showing you, is that even in such a wonderful, innocent place as the Shire, there can still be found the dissonance of Morgoth (ahem! Ted Sandyman). Even in the sweetest of hearts, there are vices. To be sure, hobbits show a great resistance to evil (aided by the fact that they are a little...dense) but Saruman is still able to corrupt a great many of them, and enslave the others.

I believe that Tolkien is also saying that you can’t keep the evil at bay simply by being nice and sweet and peaceful, sometimes you have to stand up and fight it. 

But the fight against evil isn't usually a great and exciting battle between great armies. Most of the time, it's just a silent little scuffle that only one or two people know about. 
One of the main themes in The Lord of the Rings is 'the little things'. There are great wars and exciting battles, but in the end it’s two little hobbits walking across middle earth during what many silly people consider to be the most boring part of the book. 
Frodo is constantly fighting the Ring from the moment he first sees it, and for the most part he suffers in silence, but it is Frodo who fights the greatest battle of all. And Frodo would have succumbed much sooner if it hadn’t been for Sam. 
And what was it that Sam did? Well for those who can only appreciate “the exciting stuff” he saved Frodo from a spider, and rescued him from a tower of orcs. 
But for those of us who consider Sam to be the best character in the whole book, he saved the world by giving Frodo his cloak; by eating less so that Frodo could have more; by being loyal no matter what the circumstances; by never letting his master forget about the Shire. 
By simply being there for Frodo, talking of the good things in life and keeping him from falling into despair. 
By carrying Frodo up a mountain. 
By never giving up. 

Sam is one of the most underappreciated characters of all time. Also no, it would not have been better if he had just had the Ring, because he would have had no motivation. He did not particularly care for saving the world, he just wanted to save his beloved Mr. Frodo.

I also like that the Scouring of the Shire shows that evil has many agents, who work in different ways and in different places, but really it’s all the same thing. One quote in particular comes to mind:

"'This is worse than Mordor!' said Sam. 'Much worse in a way. It comes to you, as they say; because it is home, and you remember it before it was all ruined.''Yes, this is Mordor,' said Frodo. 'Just one of its works. Saruman was doing its work all the time, even when he thought he was working for himself. And the same with those that Saruman tricked, like Lotho.'"

It is also worth noting that more beautiful and innocent a place or person is, the more evil desires to corrupt it. And well it kind of bothers me that people forget about that chapter and forget about Sam, it's strangely fitting.
The Shire ~ JRR Tolkien

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(Lest there should be any confusion or matter of rights and whatnot, all quotes in this post are from The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, unless otherwise mentioned. There may be slight errors, misspellings, or alternate punctuation in the quotes, and if you notice such, please inform me so that I can speedily remedy them. But I think the fact that I made this blog proves that I would never intentionally change something of Tolkien's in the transcribing of it.)

Eowyn and the Other Faramir: A guest post by Benita J Prins

Éowyn’s storyline in The Return of the King is a fan favourite: the sword­-wielding princess who disobeys her uncle the King in order to seek battle. Oddly enough, however, this isn’t the first time such a thing happens in Middle­-earth. In Unfinished Tales, Tolkien tells us about Prince Faramir, son of King Ondoher of Gondor, whose story takes place some 1100 years earlier. 

Prince Faramir, like his namesake in The Lord of the Rings, is the younger son. When King Ondoher and his firstborn son march against the Wainriders, Prince Faramir is left at home to rule in his father’s absence – the laws of Gondor require that at least one royal heir not go to battle. But just like Éowyn, Faramir is discontent at the thought of staying home while his brother and friends ride out to glory. He disguises himself and goes with the army. Unlike the Princess of Rohan, however, Prince Faramir is slain in battle, ending the line of Anárion, for his father and brother are killed as well. 

The basic story is exactly the same: Éowyn and Prince Faramir are the last of their houses. As her uncle and his father leave for war, the Princess and the Prince are instructed to rule the people, to defend their cities if worst comes to worst. Yet, discontent with such a critically important position, they feel they must find glory on the battlefield. 

Éowyn’s escapade, of course, turns out relatively well. She saves King Théoden’s body from dishonour and deals the Witch-king’s death­blow, and even if she had died, well, Éomer survived, right? It’s tempting to think this means that if it turns out well, it’s worth being disobedient even in such a critical time. But Prince Faramir’s story does not end happily. The similarities between the two form a warning (intended by Tolkien or not) against exactly that idea. Prince Faramir’s rash disobedience singlehandedly destroys the line of Kings, relegating Gondor to years of rule by stewards. The same could so easily have happened to the House of Eorl.

It’s a funny thing that Éowyn winds up marrying someone named Faramir. Coincidence? I think not!

Benita J. Prins is a Christian fantasy writer who will never deny her work is highly influenced by Tolkien’s. She has two published books and several more on the way. Find out more about her work at

Thank you to Benita J. Prins for this lovely guest post commemorating the 61st anniversary of the publishing of the Return of the King. Rather swamped by the 'History of Middle-earth series" I have not yet had the pleasure of reading the Unfinished Tales, but I look forward to doing so. 

A Moment of Appreciation: A Conspiracy Unmasked

I am going to take a moment (or a lot of moments) to appreciate that wonderful chapter: A Conspiracy Unmasked. It's adorable. It's comforting and hobbity. And it gives a lovely view of the personalities of the four (technically five) hobbits. And the friendship between them. The movie didn't really get across that Sam is a gardener who is quite chummy with Frodo and Bilbo, and Merry and Pippin are Frodo's special friends.
Now, my views about the movie and all of it's changes are a topic for another time, but suffice to say I am not at all mad about that movie, I love it, huge fan, but it can be misleading to the sadly large amount of people who think it is a substitute for the book, rather than a friendly companion. Like an illustration.

The hobbits all go with Frodo of their own free will, and by decision, rather than chance circumstances. Sam actually ASKED Gandalf and Frodo if he could go, as opposed to the movie where he is rather cruelly forced to risk his life and leave his home just because he was eavesdropping. This was partially captured in the movie council of elrond, but still.

Let us examine the true character of Merry, by far the most different from his movie rendition. He is quite a bit more mature than the film allows, and far more experienced. He is a Brandybuck, and he has done wild and dangerous things such as popping into the Old Forest during the day, and boating. He also discovered Bilbo's ring, and began successfully spying on the old hobbit. In a loving fashion, of course. He is a curious hobbit by nature. He initiated a conspiracy. He, not Frodo, is the one more equipped to purchase a house, and make all the arrangements so that Frodo can just waltz in. He is far from irresponsible. He is more of a grown up than Frodo in the practical sense.
"The secret won't keep for long, of course; but at present it is, I think, only known to us conspirators. After all, you must remember that we know you well, and are often with you. We can usually guess what you are thinking. I knew Bilbo, too. To tell you the truth, I had been watching you rather closely ever since he left. I thought you would go after him sooner or later; indeed I expected you to go sooner, and lately we have been very anxious. We have been terrified that you might give us the slip, and go off suddenly, all on your own like he did. Ever since this spring we have kept our eyes open, and done a good deal of planning on our own account."
~ Merry 
Not only is Merry far from the irresponsible fool, he is kind of the dad of the group. As seen in the Prancing Pony when Pippin, Frodo, and Sam go down to join the other guests, and Merry stays behind for a bit of quiet, telling them to mind their Ps and Qs. 

Pippin, in contrast, is much closer to his cinematic doppelganger, only slightly less foolish (see what I did there?). He is young, somewhat irresponsible, impulsive, fun loving and adorable. But still clever and observant. And that adorable moment when he starts singing in the bath and splashing water all over the place. He is also quite brave and wonderful creature.
"'You do not understand!' said Pippin. 'You must go - and therefore we must, too. Merry and I are coming with you. Sam is an excellent fellow, and would jump down a dragon's throat to save you, if he did not trip over his own feet; but you will need more than one companion in your dangerous adventure.'"
They all understand fairly well how dangerous this journey is, and whom they are fighting, and they are willing.

"'We are horribly afraid - but we are coming with you; or following you like hounds.'"

Tolman Cotton
And Sam? Wonderful Sam. If anyone ever tells you that he is stupid and boring, kill them correct them sternly. The movie portrayed him VERY well, and it makes me happy. He is the most generic of all generic hobbits, and I love him for it. The dearest heart, and the hungriest stomach. And just the sort to innocently gather information for their conspiracy. But terribly honest nonetheless.
"'Here's our collector of information! And he collected a lot, I can tell you, before he was finally caught. After which, I may say, he seemed to regard himself as on parole, and dried up.'"

Tolman Cotton
Frodo is a good deal more amusing. But I think that, rather than change him, the movie just pushed forward in his timeline, past his happier days and into 'the ring is heavy' days. Which I understand perfectly. To make a movie, one must speed things up a little, but one misses happy Frodo. He is a cheerful soul. Poetic and on another planet? He wanders and talks to himself and has weird dreams and thinks about elves and mountains. And he doesn't seem to notice. It's rather funny. He is also not very good at being sneaky, which is not necessarily a bad thing.
"'We have constantly heard you muttering: "Shall I ever look down into that valley again, I wonder", and things like that. And pretending that you had come to the end of your money, and actually selling your beloved Bag End to those Sackville-Bagginses! And all those close close talks with Gandalf.'
'Good heavens!' said Frodo. 'I thought I had been both careful and clever.'"
Oh Frodo.
This chapter gives me life. It is so heartwarming and wonderful in every way. I love it. I would just put the whole thing in here except I think that might be illegal. GO RE-READ IT.
"'I don't deny it,' said Frodo, looking at Sam, who was now grinning. 'I don't deny it, but I'll never believe you are sleeping again, whether you snore or not. I shall kick you hard to make sure." 
Tolman Cotton
And of course Fatty, who seems rather blah in contrast, but is really quite brave and stout hearted. I mean, he stayed home to WAIT for black riders. He is terribly fond of Frodo, enough to do that for him, but he doesn't have any desire to leave the Shire. I think it's a lovely example of how everyone can do good deeds and help the 'greater cause' each in his own way. Not everyone has to venture forth into the darkness. Someone has to hold down the fort, as it were.

Featured Artist: Tolman Cotton
Tolman Cotton is the pseudonym of an Italian artist and teacher, and a true Tolkienite. He discovered Tolkien at ten years of age, and has been a fan of his works ever since. He inherited a love of art from his father, who was also a painter, and in addition to his other work has created many 'true to the book' images from Middle Earth. 
You can find him on DeviantArt:

~A note from Goldenrod: I love the work of Alan Lee and John Howe, but I also like to search out other artists who share my love of Tolkien. Every now and then, I am going to try to do posts with featured artists, because I think they deserve appreciation and support, especially from their fellow Tolkien fans. 

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(Lest there should be any confusion or matter of rights and whatnot, all quotes in this post are from The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, unless otherwise mentioned. There may be slight errors, misspellings, or alternate punctuation in the quotes, and if you notice such, please inform me so that I can speedily remedy them. But I think the fact that I made this blog proves that I would never intentionally change something of Tolkien's in the transcribing of it.)


October 5
"Gandalf and the Hobbits leave Rivendell"

October 6
"They cross the Ford of Bruinen; Frodo feels the first return of pain.

October 28
"They reach Bree at nightfall."

October 30
"They leave Bree. The 'Travellers' come to the Brandywine Bridge at dark."
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(Lest there should be any confusion or matter of rights and whatnot, all quotes in this post are from The Lord of the Rings by JRR Tolkien, unless otherwise mentioned. There may be slight errors, misspellings, or alternate punctuation in the quotes, and if you notice such, please inform me so that I can speedily remedy them. But I think the fact that I made this blog proves that I would never intentionally change something of Tolkien's in the transcribing of it.)