31 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 62: the Isen


The River Isen (‘Iron River’) was a river which flowed from Nan Curunír at the southern feet of the Misty Mountains and ran about three hundred miles west until it reached the Sea. It served as the western boundary of Rohan. It was not bridged, but instead crossed by the Fords of Isen which lay roughly thirty miles south of Isengard. 

During the War of the Ring, the Ents diverted the flow of the River in order to flood Isengard.

30 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 61: Sammath Naur


Sammath Naur (also known as the Chambers of Fire) was constructed by Sauron the Great during the early part of the Second Age, located on the side of the volcano of Orodruin in Mordor. The tunnels, which could be reached via Sauron’s Road – and which also looked out across the plain of Gorgoroth towards Barad-dûr – gave Sauron access to the volcanic inner fires of the mountain, at the heart of which lay the Cracks of Doom. 

Sauron forged the One Ring in the chambers of Sammath Naur; therefore, it "must be taken deep into Mordor and cast back into the fiery chasm from whence it came." The One Ring was destroyed at the end of the Third Age, when the hobbits Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee brought it in secret back to Sammath Naur, and cast it into the Cracks of Doom.

29 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 60: Durin


Durin I

Durin I (also known as Durin the Deathless) was the eldest and most renowned of the Seven Fathers of the Dwarves, and the ancestor of Durin’s Folk (the Longbeards), the most important family of Dwarves during the Third Age; he awoke in the Elder Days and came to Azanulbizar, east of the Misty Mountains. When he looked into the lake of Kheled-zâram (Mirrormere), he saw a crown of seven stars reflected above his head: he took this as a sign, and made his dwelling in the Misty Mountains, known as Khazâd-dûm (Moria). 

Because of his long lifespan, he became known as Durin the Deathless; and his heirs were so much like him that they were named after him, as the Dwarves believed each one to be a reincarnation of Durin I.


(Durin II)


Durin III

Durin III was the King of Durin’s Folk during the Second Age at the height of the Dwarves’ friendship with the Elves of Eregion. He was given one of the Rings of Power – the Ring of Thrór – by Celebrimor.


(Durin IV)


Durin VI

Durin VI was King of Durin’s Folk at the time the Balrog was awoken in Moria. Durin VI was one of the first to be slain by the Balrog, which was thereafter known as Durin’s Bane.

28 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 59: The Stone of Erech

Photo Source: http://lesfuretsdugondor.info/

The Stone of Erech (also called the Black Stone) was a black stone, somewhere between six and ten feet in diameter*, which Isildur brought from Númenor to Middle-earth in SA 3320. It was set upon the Hill of Erech at the time of Gondor’s founding, and thereafter served as a symbol of its royalty. Upon the Stone, the Men of the White Mountains were required to swear allegiance to the Dúnedain, an oath which the mountain-people later broke. Isildur cursed them to wander the hills, unable to find peace until they had fulfilled their promise. During the War of the Ring (a full age later), the Dead Men of Dunharrow were summoned to the Stone by Aragorn, so that they might fulfill their Oath and have peace at last.


* Some sources say six feet, some say ten; others yet say the stone was twelve feet in diameter


References
 Foster, R. (2001). Stone of Erech. In The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey.

27 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 58: The Oath of Fëanor

The Oath of Fëanor by Ted Nasmith
After Morgoth killed Finwë and stole the Silmarils, Fëanor and his seven sons took an oath, by which they swore to Ilúvatar, in the presence of Manwë and Varda, that they wished the Everlasting Darkness upon themselves if they should fail to pursue anyone who stole or kept from them a Silmaril.

Driven by his oath, Fëanor led the Noldor out of Aman and back into Middle-earth in pursuit of the Dark Lord Morgoth, who at the time held all three of the Silmarils. Though Fëanor was mortally wounded, the Sons of Fëanor continued to fulfill the oath. During this time, they united with the Elves of Beleriand against one common enemy. 

However, when Beren and Lúthien recovered one of the three Silmarils from Morgoth’s crown and brought it back to King Thingol in Beleriand, the doom of the oath became apparent. The Sons of Fëanor waged war with the Elves of Beleriand when Thingol refused to hand over the jewel; they attacked and destroyed Doriath, killing Dior, Thingol’s heir and invoking the second Kin-Slaying.

Dior’s daughter, Elwing, took the Silmaril to the Mouth of Sirion; again the Sons of Fëanor attacked, committing the third (and most terrible) Kin-Slaying, and again, they failed to reclaim the jewel, which Elwing and her husband Eärendil the Mariner had brought back to the West. 

Following the War of Wrath, only two Sons remained: Maedhros and Maglor, who stole the two remaining Silmarils from the camp of the victorious west. Yet the two brothers had committed so many terrible deeds in seeking retrieval of the Silmarils that they found they could no longer touch the jewels without enduring searing pain. The brothers parted; Maedhros thrust himself and his Silmaril into the depths of the Earth, and Maglor, now the last of the oath-takers, cast his jewel into the ocean, and was left to wander the shores of the world in lamentation.


References

Fisher, M. (2003). Oath of Fëanor. In The encyclopedia of Arda. Retrieved from http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/o/oathoffeanor.html
 
Foster, R. (2001). Oath of Fëanor. In The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey. 

Tolkien, J. (1977). The Silmarillion. Christopher Tolkien (Ed.). New York: Ballantine Books.

Tolkien, J. (1985). The lays of Beleriand. Christopher Tolkien (Ed.). Allen and Unwin.

26 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 57: Mûmakil

Mûmakil (sing. Mûmak) were pachyderms, similar to modern-day elephants – though they were much larger. Mûmak was the term used by the Rangers of Ithilien; Hobbits referred to them as ‘Oliphaunts.’ They were used by the Haradrim as war-beasts; they carried war-towers, frightened horses, and were the Haradrim’s defensive force during battle. Their skin was so thick that they were nearly impenetrable in battle; the only way to kill them was to shoot them in the eye, and then they would often run amok.

Mûmakil in Peter Jackson's The Return of the King

In The Two Towers, Samwise Gamgee recites a poem in Hobbit-lore on Oliphaunts:

Grey as a mouse,
Big as a house,
Nose like a snake,
I make the earth shake,
As I tramp through the grass;
Trees crack as I pass.
With horns in my mouth
I walk in the South,
Flapping big ears.
Beyond count of years
I stump round and round,
Never lie on the ground,
Not even to die.
Oliphaunt am I,
Biggest of all,
Huge, old, and tall.
If ever you'd met me
You wouldn't forget me.
If you never do,
You won't think I'm true;
But old Oliphaunt am I,
And I never lie.


References

Foster, R. (2001). Oliphaunts. In The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey. 

Tolkien, J. (1954). The lord of the rings: the two towers. New York: Del Rey. 

Tyler, J. (1976). Mûmak. In The complete Tolkien companion. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

Patrick Spadaccino: I Wanna Be in the Hobbit Movies

There are many joys of being a member of the Tolkien community: having countless opportunities to discuss and celebrate the writings of Professor J.R.R. Tolkien, as well as the directorial talents of Peter Jackson, who brought some of his work to light on the big screen; taking part in Tolkien-themed events and gatherings; even living in Tolkien’s Middle-earth virtually via the Lord of the Rings Online. But the biggest joy lies in the people met and the friendships made along the way. 

One such friend of mine is Patrick Spadaccino, a graphic designer from Connecticut who has also written two novels, one of which, The Faraway Hearts Club, has been published. From an early age, Patrick was interested in the more creative aspects of life – “In fact,” he says, “I used to lug around at least one shopping bag full of art supplies wherever I went. I was always being yelled at for that because I was such a high-maintenance traveler, but I couldn’t stand the thought of being somewhere and not having the tools to create something beautiful.” 

In addition to creating art, Patrick also grew up with a love of acting. “I directed my first play at age 5. I was in kindergarten and one of the toys they gave us to play with was a collection of large cardboard bricks. I stacked and fashioned them into a stage and dragged my teacher into the production. I loved spooky stuff, so I gave her the role of the skeleton in the closet (I didn’t understand that expression; she was literally a skeleton in a closet!). I’ve since performed in many stage productions, and even did a small amount of TV during my radio days.”



 Several years later, Patrick discovered the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, of which he says he instantly became a fan. 

 “I was about 10 or 11 when I first read The Hobbit. The memory is still crystal clear. I was staying at my grandparent’s house that week, and I always enjoyed those visits. My uncle happened to be living there at the time, and one day he came downstairs holding a beat-up paperback. He looked at me with a very serious expression, handed me the book and said, “You have to read this.”  

“One of the best memories about that first time reading the book was the way my uncle shared in the experience as I read. He’d ask what part of the book I was reading, and then nod knowingly when I told him…it was all he could do not to give away the plot. So as I read it, we discussed it. We laughed at the funny parts, we were somber at the sad parts…we had a great time experiencing the book together.”

So it only seems natural for Patrick to want to combine his two passions. After hearing that The Hobbit films were, at long last, going to be made, he knew he had to do something. So he set out on a campaign to be in The Hobbit films – appropriately titled “I Wanna Be in the Hobbit Movies.”

When I first heard about Patrick’s campaign back in July, I knew I wanted to help him out in whatever ways I could. I recently had the pleasure of interviewing him about his campaign and his love for the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien.


* What is it about the book that drew you in…?

Where do I begin, and how much space do you have? There were so many aspects of the book that appealed to me. Here are some highlights:

·        The way Tolkien introduces the book, adds appendices and tells the story in the second person all help convey the impression that you’re reading a historical account, rather than a work of fiction. Those techniques helped me “suspend my disbelief” and really become immersed in the tale.
·        I love the dry, charming humor.
·        I love the interesting (and often humorous) ways Tolkien depicts some well-known fantasy creatures. For example: trolls that wear clothing (including pickable pockets) and who speak in Cockney accents, and dragons who take pride in their hoards but never enjoy the smallest part of their stolen treasure.
·        Gollum absolutely fascinates me, from his strange obsession with his Precious, to his odd, creepy way of speaking. The Riddles in the Dark chapter conveyed such a terrifying sense of danger (I mean, a game where you get eaten if you lose?!), and yet was hilarious at the same time ("Is it nice, my preciousss? Is it juicy? Is it scrumptiously crunchable?").
·        I loved learning about the cultures of Dwarves and Elves—where they were similar, where they diverged.
·        Most of all, I loved the way Gandalf pushed Bilbo into the adventure. The wizard saw something in Bilbo that Bilbo himself could not yet see: a courage, a deep-seated strength. Gandalf believed in Bilbo and gave him a chance to show his quality, and Bilbo lived up to and exceeded all expectations. But for all that, he was not a typical hero. He was small, he had no skill in battle, he had no experience with adventures.


Along the way, he made mistakes—but he kept trying—bolstered, in part, by everyone’s faith in him. And that resonated strongly with me. My parents divorced when I was seven, and I spent most of my childhood alone and bullied and afraid. It was inspiring to see a hero who started out humbly, but grew to extraordinary greatness.


Throughout my life, there have been special people who saw potential in me and gave me the opportunity to shine—even when others had written me off. I’m hoping that Sir Peter Jackson will give me a chance just as Gandalf gave Bilbo a chance!


…and sparked a desire to be in these films?

As a Tolkien fan, it would be a crowning experience to play even a small role in telling such an entertaining, inspiring, timeless story. I’m also extremely nostalgic, and it’s my dream to be part of The Hobbit movies because I can trace my love for the story all the way back to the day when a kind uncle handed his lonely nephew a very special book. Helping to make that story special to a completely new audience would be an amazing culmination of my 35-year appreciation of Tolkien’s work.

Lastly, Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings is a cinematic masterpiece. That trilogy is as timeless as the works that inspired it; every time I watch it (and I’ve watched it many, many times), I am amazed that it’s still as fresh, still as powerful as the first time I watched it. So, I know The Hobbit is in the very best hands from a production standpoint; I know it will be treated with the proper respect for the source material, and will also have all those unique and wonderful touches that made LOTR so masterful.


* What was your favourite moment in the book, and what are you most looking forward to seeing on the big screen?

Again, this opens up a huge door, but out of consideration for your audience, I’ll be brief this time: I can’t wait for the Riddles in the Dark segment, where Bilbo finds the Ring and meets Gollum.


* What other Tolkien books have you read?

I have read The Lord of the Rings many times, including the appendices. I just started The Silmarillion, and I recently bought (but haven’t yet started to read) Unfinished Tales.


* Who is your favourite Tolkien character, or one that you feel you are most like?

Part of the reason I love Tolkien’s work is that I see aspects of others and myself in all the characters, both good and evil. He achieved a wonderful depth in his characterizations. If I say I love Aragorn best, I think of Arwen. If I say I love Legolas best, I think of Gimli. If I say that Sam is my favorite, how can I not think of Frodo, Pippin, and Merry? If I say I admire Galadriel, what about Elrond? The characters are intertwined into one amazing whole.

But for the sake of picking one, I will say that Sam is an incredible depiction of an ideal friend. Courageous, protective, generous, fiercely loyal, utterly dependable…that’s the kind of friend I aspire to be.


* When did you begin your “I Wanna Be in the Hobbit Movies” campaign, and what made you decide to do so?

I’d been following Hobbit news for years, waiting for the film version, hoping Peter Jackson would be involved. I was overjoyed when filming began in March 2011, but I was also sad. I was excited about the movie, but so much so that I wanted to be part of it.

On April 7, 2011, I saw a post on a Hobbit movie blog that offered to feature one fan per month. That fan would receive his/her own page, and would receive special promotion in view of getting an audition to be in the Hobbit films! That was just what I was waiting for. I’d had a vague idea of doing a video audition, but I had no clear direction.

After I posted on that blog and placed myself in the running, I got to work. After all, if I was chosen as the featured fan, I wanted to offer something a lot more substantial than my desire to be in the films. I knew I needed to bring all my various experience to bear: web design, graphic design, stage acting and makeup, voiceovers, music composition, standup comedy, writing, etc. I also learned how to use some of the more popular social media tools in an effort to widen the reach of my campaign.


* In your audition/screen test videos on your website, you don Orc and Goblin-inspired make-up – which is very impressive, by the way. How much effort went into transforming yourself into an Orc and a goblin? What were some of the techniques you used to create the appropriate makeup?

Thank you! The makeup centered around three latex appliances: a full-face piece and two ears. The face piece was fashioned to look like Gorbag, an Orc who appeared in The Return of the King.

I also used standard grease makeup, liquid latex, theatrical hair, face wax, and of course, spirit gum (the sticky resin used to attach the latex appliances). I’ve loved doing horror-style makeup since I was young, and my experience in the theatre also helped. And whatever I didn’t know, I was able to learn on YouTube!

Although I wanted to depict different types of Orcs and Goblins, the makeup (and all the other supplies I bought to support my campaign) was expensive, so I settled on one basic template, and added details like a White Hand emblem, a ponytail, a wig (which I ended up not using because it made me look like a Samurai).

Once I settled on a basic look, I began the process:

·        I started by sealing the latex pieces with castor oil, then applying an initial coat of makeup.

·        I then applied makeup to the parts of my head, neck and face that wouldn’t be covered by latex.

·        I applied the latex ears by essentially gluing them to my own ears with spirit gum. I then blended the makeup already on the ears with the surrounding skin.

·        I applied the face piece in the same manner, and applied makeup to blend the seams against my face. This was challenging, because in order to have the kind of expressional mobility I needed, that piece had to stick to my face completely and in all the correct places (nose, mouth, cheeks, eyes, forehead).

I also bought special contact lenses, but was very disappointed that I couldn’t get them into my eyes, no matter how hard I tried! I’m not squeamish about things like that, but they kept falling out and I eventually had to give up. Thankfully, my eyes are dark, so the videos weren’t negatively impacted. But I would have liked to have used the contacts.


* How long did it take to apply and remove?

The first time I applied the makeup, it took about 2 hours from start to finish, primarily because I had to prepare the latex pieces first. Subsequent applications (I did three sessions) took less time—about an hour.

Removal was much quicker, taking from 20-30 minutes. The trickiest part was making sure I got all the spirit gum out of my goatee…it’s very sticky!


* In your videos, you portray Orcs and goblins. What would your ideal ‘Hobbit’ role be?

I chose Orcs and goblins because the roles I enjoy playing most are villains and comedic characters. Orcs are great villains, and I knew I could do the makeup well enough for the purposes of the audition videos, so I chose them. (And I was also able to inject some humor via the gag reels!)

I would be truly grateful for any role I received in The Hobbit, though of course I would love to be visible (and at least partially recognizable) on screen.

I’d love to play the role of the Necromancer—to play the being that later becomes Sauron, the ultimate villain of this genre. (No, I don’t have an evil bent…it’s just that when villains are portrayed effectively, it makes their ultimate defeat that much more satisfying.)

But on a slightly more realistic note, I’d also love to be a goblin that gets killed by one of the heroes, or a Dwarf in the final battle, or an Elf who nods wisely as Elrond examines Thror’s map, or an inhabitant of Laketown who faces down the dragon…in short, anyone or anything, but preferably someone funny or wicked, because I think that’s where my skills lie.


* So far, your campaign has been covered by Fox CT News, The Middletown Press, and Examiner.com. Have you reached out to any other media stations, or are you planning on doing so?

I am continually sending out my mini press releases to as many media outlets as I can. I’ve contacted talk shows, TV news stations, newspapers, and magazines. I am targeting primarily the United States, the UK and New Zealand.

These efforts recently bore fruit: I was contacted this week by the editor of Capital Times, a weekly newspaper in Wellington, New Zealand…he want to interview me for an upcoming issue, which is phenomenal timing, considering that Hobbit filming has recently resumed.

I’m going to keep promoting this campaign until I hear from Peter Jackson, or filming wraps!




* If you had the opportunity to speak with director Peter Jackson right now, what would you like to say to him?

I actually wrote an open letter to Sir Peter and posted it on his Facebook page and mine. You can view it here: http://www.facebook.com/home.php?#!/note.php?note_id=128735513877374.

But to give you the highlights, I’d say:


“Sir Peter, I have the deepest admiration for the way you portrayed Tolkien’s world in The Lord of the Rings. I’ve loved The Hobbit since I was a boy, and I know that your treatment of that tale will be just as amazing. As a fan of both your work and Tolkien’s writing, I’d love to play even the smallest role in telling this story. Though you are surrounded by the best of the best, I’m asking you to take a leap of faith and give me the chance to contribute my talents, humor, work ethic, and passion to the telling of this tale. Just like Bilbo, as he slowly grew to be the hero Gandalf knew he could be, I’m committed to exceeding your wildest expectations.”


Is there anything else you’d like us to know about you or your campaign?

Thanks so much for your interest in my quest! One of the many joys I’ve experienced over the last five months is the wonderful warmth, kindness and generosity of the Tolkien community—most especially your very own TolkienBritta! I found friends as near as my own town, and as far away as New Zealand. I’d just like to thank all of them, and you, for supporting my efforts with many expressions of support and encouragement.


For more information on Patrick’s campaign (and to see his audition videos and outtakes), check out his website @ iwannabeinthehobbitmovies.com

You can also follow him on Twitter
‘Like’ him on Facebook
And view his Youtube videos

25 August 2011

Jackson: Freeman “Bilbo-esque”


‘Hobbit’ director Peter Jackson recently praised British actor Martin Freeman, who will be portraying the story’s main character, Bilbo Baggins, in The LA Times, stating that Freeman “is fantastic and there is simply nobody else for the job. We couldn’t find anyone who was better than him. He’s simply fantastic.”

Jackson also explained the reason behind the month long production break was to allow Freeman, who had already signed on to another Sherlock Holmes series, to fulfill his previous commitment to the BBC. Jackson, well aware of Freeman’s prior commitment, cast him as The Hobbit’s lead anyway. 

“I can’t imagine anyone else doing Bilbo, which is one of the reasons, really, we signed him up even with having the Sherlock break – normally on a movie you wouldn’t want to do that with the schedule, but we literally couldn’t figure out any other actor we auditioned, you know. There is no other actor.” 

So what did Jackson see in Freeman that stood out from all the other ‘Hobbit’ hopefuls?

“He’s Bilbo-esque,” Jackson said. “You might not always want to say that about you, right? But seriously he has the essential features of this little English gent, this country gent who is slightly old-fashioned and has to go around in the world and try to cope with it. That’s not exactly who Martin is as a person, but as an actor he does that so well. The fish out of water with a sense of courage but also a wonderful sense of humor. The things that happen to him and the way he reacts to them — things he’s never seen in his life before as a stuffy little Hobbit — his response to it all is part of the charm. And he does have a great openness in his face.”

Fans can see Martin Freeman’s portrayal of the hobbit Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, the first installment of the two-part adaptation, which opens on December 14, 2012. The second part, The Hobbit: There and Back Again, is scheduled for release on December 13, 2013.

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 56: Guards of the Citadel

Gondor’s elite military unit, known as the Guards of the Citadel (or the Guard of the Tower of Gondor), was in charge of guarding both the Citadel of Minas Tirith as well as the Court of the Fountain (in which the White Tree was contained). They also participated in official functions.

The Guards were comprised of at least three companies; Beregond belonged to the Third Company. Peregrin Took was also a member of the Guard, though to which Company he belonged is unclear. 

 The Guards of the Citadel wore black surcoats embroidered with a tree beneath a silver crown and many pointed stars (the insignia of Elendil, which only they bore during the time of the Stewards); they also wore Númenorean sea-helms made of mithril. 

Traditionally, the Captain-general of the Guards was the heir of the Steward, and the Captain was probably heir to the throne at the time of the Kings. 

24 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 55: Éomer

Éomer (also known as Éomer Éadig, "the Blessed"; TA 2991 – FO 63) was the son of Théodwyn and Éomund, and the eighteenth King of Rohan (TA 3019 – FO 63). His sister was Éowyn, and when their parents both died – Éomund was slain by Orcs, and Théodwyn succumbed to her grief – their uncle, King Théoden, took the two children in and raised them as his own. When Théoden’s own son, Théodred, was slain, Éomer became his heir.

Prior to the War of the Ring, he was the Third Marshall of the Riddermark. When his uncle, King Théoden, fell at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, he named Éomer the new King of the Mark; upon taking up the throne, Éomer renewed the Oath of Eorl with King Elessar. Éomer was known for being a close friend and ally to King Elessar of Gondor. 

Éomer married Lothíriel, daughter of Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth in TA 3020; and she bore him at least one child, Elfwine the Fair, who later succeeded his father.


 Etymology

The name Éomer literally means "Horse-famous," and can be found in the Anglo-Saxon poem Beowulf.


References

Foster, R. (2001). Éomer. In The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey. 

Tolkien, J. (1954). The lord of the rings: the two towers. New York: Del Rey.

Tolkien, J. (1955). The lord of the rings: the return of the king. New York: Del Rey.

Tyler, J. (1976). Éomer. In The complete Tolkien companion. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

23 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 54: Argonath


S. ‘Pillars-of-the-Kings’ or ‘Stones of the Kings’

Also called the Pillars of the Kings, the Gates of Argonath, the Gates of the Kings, and the Gates of Gondor

The Argonath was the name for the mighty carved stones, fashioned in the likenesses of Isildur and Anárion, which stood on either side of the Anduin River, built by Rómencil II of Gondor (TA 1340) to mark the northern boundary of Gondor and forbid any unwelcome travelers from going any further.  ‘…still with blurred eyes and crannied brows they frowned upon the North. The left hand of each was rasied palm outwards in a gesture of warning; in each right hand there was an axe; upon each head there was a crumbling helm and crown.’ (The Lord of the Rings, Book II, Chapter 9)


References

Foster, R. (2001). Argonath. In The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey. 

Tolkien, J. (1954). The lord of the rings: the fellowship of the ring. New York: Del Rey.

Tyler, J. (1976). Argonath. In The complete Tolkien companion. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

22 August 2011

Evangeline Lilly Spotted in Wellington

Three months after the birth of her baby boy, 'Lost' star Evangeline Lilly is the latest 'Hobbit' celebrity to have been spotted in New Zealand's capital of Wellington, following reports of Orlando Bloom, Stephen Fry, James Nesbitt, and Martin Freeman already being in the area. This past Sunday (August 21), she was seen going for a walk with her newborn child and boyfriend, Norman Kali.

Lilly, well-known for her role as Kate Austen on the ABC drama Lost, went on a self-imposed hiatus back in 2009.

"People are excited to try on the next chapter of their lives," she told New York Magazine. "This show is all-encompassing. We have had very little experience outside of the show during the last six years because it's just so demanding. It requires so much of us. So, it's exciting to have your freedom back, essentially."

Lilly is now in New Zealand to begin filming for Peter Jackson's highly anticipated adaptation of J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit, in which she will be portraying the Elf maiden Tauriel. 

“Her name means ‘daughter of Mirkwood’ and, beyond that, we must leave you guessing!" said director Peter Jackson back in June. "What is not a secret is how talented and compelling an actress Evangeline is. We are thrilled and excited she will be the one to bring our first true Sylvan Elf to life.”

A spokesman for Jackson stated that filming had resumed last week and will continue until December.

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 53: Gondolin

Gondolin by Ted Nasmith

Gondolin was the most beautiful of the Noldorin city-kingdoms founded in Middle-earth during the First Age, and also the longest enduring. It was completed in the second century (between FA 52 and 104) of the exile of the Noldor by King Turgon, the first Elf to walk in the hidden valley of Tumladen. 

The easiest entranceway into Gondolin was the Way of Escape, which was difficult to find, and heavily guarded by Gondolindrim. The city itself was built of white stone on Amon Gwareth, and modeled on Tirion, which it soon came to rival in beauty. 

For four hundred years it stood in the hidden valley of Tumladen, signifying the last hope of the Noldor in mortal lands. Blessed by Ulmo and protected by the ever-vigilant Eagles, few passed outward (until the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, three and a half centuries later) and only four who had not entered with Turgon at the realm’s founding – Maeglin, Eöl, Húrin, and Huor – were allowed to pass inward. For a time, Gondolin prospered, ignoring the affairs of the outside world, and keeping out of Morgoth’s sight.  

The city of Gondolin became stronger and more beautiful as time went on, as Turgon never ceased to add to it. He built high towers which were slender, graceful, and proportionate, and mighty walls which shone in the sunlight. 

For some time, Morgoth guessed that Gondolin was somewhere in the mountains west of Dorthonion, as Húrin had inadvertently revealed to him the location of Gondolin upon his release from Angband, and Maeglin later betrayed the secrets of its passes, having been promised Lordship and Turgon’s daughter, Idril. 

In FA 511, Gondolin was overwhelmed by a horde of Orcs, Balrogs, wolves, and dragons; as Morgoth had no other foes left in Middle-earth, he was able to strike with all the forces available to him. Turgon was slain, as was Ecthelion, who slew and was slain by the mightiest of the Balrogs. Tuor killed Maeglin the Traitor, and with his wife Idril and their son Eärendil, fled the city. Through them, the Line of Gondolin lived on. 

Gondolin was the last of the Elven realms of Beleriand to suffer the Doom of the Noldor, and its downfall marked the final victory of Morgoth in the War of the Great Jewels.


Etymology

Sindarin ‘Hidden-rock’ or ‘Rock-hidden’

From the Quenya Ondolindë ‘Stone song’

References

Foster, R. (2001). Gondolin. In The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey. 

Tyler, J. (1976). Gondolin. In The complete Tolkien companion. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

21 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 52: Scatha the Worm

Scatha was one of the great dragons of the Third Age who dwelt in Ered Mithrin (the Grey Mountains). Little is known of Scatha, save that he was cruel and greedy, and possessed a large hoard of treasure forcibly taken from the Dwarves prior to their expulsion from Moria (TA 1981). He was slain by Fram son of Frumgar of the Men of Éothéod, who later found himself in a bitter dispute with the Dwarves, who claimed the treasure for their own. Fram insulted the Dwarves during the dispute by sending them the teeth of the dragon and saying, “Jewels such as these you will not match in your treasuries, for they are hard to come by,” which ignited war between the Dwarves and the Éothéod, and ultimately resulted in the Dwarves’ slaying of Fram.


Etymology

Scatha’s name was possibly taken from the Anglo-Saxon sceaða, "injurious person, criminal, thief, assassin"


References

Fisher, M. (2001). Scatha. In The encyclopedia of Arda. Retrieved from http://www.glyphweb.com/arda/s/scatha.html
 
Foster, R. (2001). Scatha. In The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey.

Tyler, J. (1976). Scatha the Worm. In The complete Tolkien companion. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

20 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 51: Thangorodrim

Ted Nasmith's depiction of Maedhros' rescue from Thangorodrim
S. ‘Mountains of Tyranny’

Thangorodrim was the name of the three-peaked mountain above the Gates of Angband, raised from the Iron Mountains by Morgoth following the theft of the Silmarils and his return to Middle-earth.

It was made of slag and refuse from the delving of Angband, but was also volcanic, emitting smoke, lava, and foul vapours.

Thangorodrim was destroyed in the Great Battle (also known as the War of Wrath) of the First Age, when Ancalagon the Black fell upon it. Its destruction was one of the major causes leading to the ruin of Beleriand.



References

Foster, R. (2001). Thangorodrim. In The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey. 

Tyler, J. (1976). Thangorodrim. In The complete Tolkien companion. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

19 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 50: Balrogs


Gothmog and Ecthelion, John Howe

S. ‘Demon-of-Power’ (from Q. Valarauka), ‘Power-Terror,’ ‘Demon of Might’

Balrogs originated as part of the Thought of Ilúvatar: they were Maiar of the service of Melkor, mightiest of the Ainur. They took the form of a spirit of fire, and after their corruption by Melkor, were to Elves and Men seen as demonic beings of great size. They were enshrouded in fire, cloaked in darkness, with their primary weapon being a whip of many thongs. They were immune to the powers of ordinary weapons; therefore, only the Eldar had any chance of withstanding their power. 

The Lord of the Balrogs, Gothmog, was slain by Ecthelion, Captain of Gondolin, during the final stages of the sack of the city. During the War of the Jewels, Balrogs were present in all major attacks, but were nearly all destroyed in the fall of Angband during the Great Battle. At least one is known to have survived, fleeing to roots of the mountains. 

However, in TA 1980, the Dwarves of Moria, who had been delving deep under the mountain of Caradhras in search of gold, accidently released the Balrog, which then slew two of their Kings, Durin VI and his son Náin I. (This Balrog was later known as Durin’s Bane and the Terror). The Dwarves fled from Moria, and never returned during the Third Age; in 2480, Sauron populated Khazad-dûm with Orcs and trolls, over which the Balrog ruled by way of terror. Following a ten-day battle, the Balrog was destroyed in TA 3019 by Gandalf.


References

Foster, R. (2001). Balrogs. In The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey. 

Tyler, J. (1976). Balrog. In The complete Tolkien companion. New York: St. Martin’s Press.

My Tolkien Collection: My Tolkien Library

If you've ever been curious as to where I get a majority of my information for my "365 Days of Middle-earth" from, or how many/what Tolkien-related books I own, here's a (somewhat blurry) snapshot for you:


Since you obviously cannot see all the titles, I'll list them for anyone interested:

18 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 49: Númenor and the Númenoreans

The Fall of Númenor, by John Howe

History of Númenor and the Dúnedain

The Dúnedain were Men descended from the Edain of the First Age who sailed to Númenor at the beginning of the Second Age. They made the island of Elenna their home in SA 32, having been granted Númenor by the Valar in reward for their faithfulness in the War of the Great Jewels. 

Eventually the Dúnedain began to grow too proud and discontented with the gifts they had been given by the Eldar, and were also concerned with their short lifespan, and the imminence of death; to them, the Gift of Men was their Doom. These fears of death led to a desire for power and a reliance on treasures and luxury. By 2300, they began to speak openly against the Valar; only the Faithful remained loyal to the Eldar, and they were often persecuted for this. 

Hoping to reclaim nobility and return to the older ways of life, Tar-Palantir found his reign undermined by civil war, and after his death in 3262, his nephew, Ar-Pharazôn claimed the throne, with a desire to gain kingship of the world. In 3262 he brought Sauron to Númenor as a prisoner, and not long after Númenor had been corrupted, with Sauron persuading Ar-Pharazôn to attack Valinor and demand immortality. 

Númenor was destroyed in what was known as the Change of the World. Elendil and a small following of the Faithful came to Middle-earth; the Faithful and the Black Númenoreans of Umbar and Harad were the only Dúnedain left. The Faithful went on to found two kingdoms: Gondor and Arnor. Following the death of Elendil (SA 3441), the Dúnedain had been broken up into two groups: the Dúndain of the North and those of Gondor.


Appearance and Culture

The Dúnedain were tall with dark hair and grey eyes. They were superior to other Men in terms of body in spirit, though they were not immune from evil and corruption, and they were forbidden to set foot on the Undying Lands or become immortal. Their lifespan was thrice that of lesser Men (210 years) originally, but by the War of the Ring it has been reduced to 150 years. 

They primarily spoke Westron (the Dúnedain of Númenor spoke Adûnaic), though many of the Dúnedain also knew Sindarin and/or Quenya, and often enriched their own words with Elvish ones.


The Dúnedain of the North

The Dúnedain of the North were attacked by Angmar in TA 1300, which resulted in the slow dwindling of their numbers and territory; the last Dúnadain of Cardolan died in the Great Plague of 1636. The Dúnedain of the North saw their numbers dangerously reduced after the fall of Arthedain in 1974; they survived only with the help of Elrond. Most of these Dúnedain became Rangers who saw it as their duty to protect innocent Men and Hobbits against the forces of Sauron.


The Dúnedain of Gondor

Despite threats from Harad and Rhûn, the Dúnedain of Gondor initially flourished, though many of their leaders became too proud. The Line of Anárion (the family of the Kings of Gondor) failed several times due to lack of children or the early death of the king. Dúnadan blood had been lessened by intermarriage with lesser Men and the Dúnedain’s love of luxury and sloth-like natures. Despite this, some families still retained their nobility – such as the House of Húrin.


Names and Etymology

S. ‘edain of the west’

The singular form of Dúnedain is Dúnadan.

The Dúnedain were also known as: the Men of Westernesse, the Men of the West, the Númenoreans, Kings of Men, the Men of the Sea, the Tall Men, and the High.


References

Foster, R. (2001). The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey.

Tolkien, J.R.R. (1979). The Silmarillion. Christopher Tolkien, (Ed.). Random House Digital. 

17 August 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 48: Théoden



(TA 2948 – 3019) Théoden, son of Thengel, was the seventeenth King of Rohan (TA 2980 – 3019) and the last of the Second Line (the descendants of Fréaláf). Of the five children of King Thengel and his wife Morwen, Théoden, the second-born, was the only boy. He married Elfhild, who later died giving birth to their son Théodred. When his sister, Théodwyn (with whom he was very close), and her husband Éomund both died, Théoden adopted their children, Éowyn and Éomer. 

A skilled horseman, Théoden was also a strong and highly respected king. Near the end of his reign, however, he fell into decay under the spell of Saruman (who had gained access to Théoden through his corrupt counsellor Gríma); but by the end of 3019, he had been healed by Gandalf, earning him the title Théoden Ednew (Rohirric: ‘renewed fortune’). Upon the death of his son, Théodred, his nephew, Éomer, became his heir. 

Théoden led the Rohirrim against the forces of Saruman in the Battle of the Hornburg and against Mordor in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. During the latter battle, he defeated an army of Haradrim, and then challenged the Lord of the Nazgûl, though he was mortally wounded when his horse Snowmane fell upon him. 

After his death, he was succeeded by his nephew, Éomer.


Etymology

Théoden is a translation of the Rohirric Tûrac (‘king’), which was influenced by the Sindarin stem tur- (‘power/mastery’)


References

Foster, R. (2001). Théoden. In The complete guide to middle-earth: from the hobbit through the lord of the rings and beyond. New York: Del Rey.

16 August 2011

John Rhys-Davies Discusses the Possibility of ‘Hobbit’ Involvement

Recently, David Sztypuljak of HeyUGuys spoke with actor John Rhys-Davies, whose newest film, War of Resistance, comes out next week. John, famous for his roles in such films as Raiders of the Lost Ark and the Lord of the Rings, plays a priest known as Eusi, who is hiding from the Nazis during World War II. And fortunately for us ‘Hobbit’ fans, Sztypuljak couldn’t resist asking a few questions about whether or not John might return to Middle-earth.  
  
“I would love to!” John responded when asked about the possibility of a cameo appearance. “I’ve had a great sort of 180 degree turn. After I did The Lord of the Rings, I didn’t want to get near prosthetic masks ever again, I still don’t really, and I didn’t want to play a dwarf to be honest with you. Why be one of thirteen when you can be one of one. As time comes between you and the horrors of that make-up, slowly you begin to see things through rather rosy spectacles. I did go down and see him (Jackson) and I did come as close to grovelling as you can get (Laughs!). I’m sure that Peter knows that I grovelled!”

He adds that Peter Jackson “has everything that a Director needs. His organizational ability alone is completely remarkable. I think it will change the way films are made. I think he’s upping the game for every other film-maker in the world. Projecting in 48 frames alone is going to give a level of clarity that we’ve never had in film before, and I think he’s housebreaking 3d. He is such a grounded level man with all the characteristics that a great Director must have. Added to which, he built a film industry from scratch to an international level. Marvellous intelligence and a marvellous modest nature, Peter has got it all!”

Although he is off to New Zealand, he admits that, “It’s for marital purposes as I have a wife and child there!”

You can read the full interview here.