30 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 92: Berúthiel

Berúthiel was a Queen of Gondor, and the wife of Tarannon Falastur. Of Black Númenorean origin, she was a solitary and misanthropic woman, and as such, she and Tarannon had no children. Additionally, she dressed in dark clothing, hated colour and elaborateness, and was known to have decorated the courtyard outside her home with strange sculptures, while leaving the inside of her home bare. 

Though she had no children, Queen Berúthiel attracted the attention of several cats (nine black and one white); though she despised them, and was also said to have tortured them, she eventually took advantage of their attraction to her, enslaving them and training them to spy on the people of Gondor. Her deeds were so cruel that Tarannon had her name removed from the Book of Kings and cast her out into the Great Sea with her cats. Whether she survived or not is unclear, though her legacy lived on into the time of the War of the Ring, as Aragorn made a reference to her cats while the Fellowship navigated their way through the Mines of Moria.


From the Sindarin: bereth ‘queen,’ rúth ‘anger,’ and the suffix -iel ‘female’

29 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 91: Eilinel

Eilinel (also known as Eilinel the White) was the wife of Gorlim the Unhappy. Little is known about her, save that she was fair and gentle, and greatly beloved by her husband. While Gorlim was away at war, their house was ransacked and destroyed, and upon his return, Gorlim found no trace of Eilinel. Unwilling to believe that she was dead, he repeatedly returned to their home to search for her; one night, when Gorlim returned to his home, he found his wife calling out to him; but before he could reach her, she was taken away by Orcs, and Gorlim himself was captured by Sauron and tortured mercilessly until he would betray Barahir. Believing that his compliance would reunite him with his wife (while unaware that she was dead, and that the woman calling out to him was merely a phantom), Gorlim betrayed Barahir, only to learn of Sauron’s treachery and deceit. Sauron, keeping true to his word, slew Gorlim, thus reuniting him with his beloved wife.  

28 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 90: Menegroth

Menegroth (S. ‘Thousand caves’) was the great underground fortress of Doriath and the Palace of its King, Elwë Thingol. It lay under a stony hill in the center of Doriath, with its doors guarded by the Esgalduin river. The only entrance was by bridge. It was built early in the First Age with the help of the Dwarves of Belegost, and was said to be the mightiest and fairest of all the kingly halls in Middle-earth.

On two occasions, the fortress was sacked: first by the Dwarves of Nogrod (who slew King Thingol over their greed for the Nauglamír, which contained one of the Silmarils), and then again by the Sons of Fëanor, who, in trying to fulfill the Oath of Fëanor and reclaim the Silmaril, fronted the Second Kinslaying (the slaying of Elves by Elves).  

27 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 89: Arwen

Arwen as portrayed by Liv Tyler in Peter Jackson's film adaptations

TA 241 – FO 121

Arwen (S. “Royal maiden”) was the youngest child and only daughter of Elrond and Celebrían (daughter of Galadriel). She was known for her dark beauty and striking resemblance to Lúthien Tinúviel. Because of her beauty, she was known as Undómiel, the Evenstar of her people. She lived most of her life in her father’s house in Imladris, and occasionally in Lothlórien with her mother’s kin.

In 2951, she met and fell in love with Aragorn. Twenty nine years later, they met again, and in 2980 pledged their love on Cerin Amroth. They were married following the downfall of Barad-dûr; in marrying Aragorn, Arwen gave up her immortality, being the only other Elf aside from Lúthien to do so. She bore him one son and two daughters; when he died in FO 120, she went to Lórien and died the following winter on the same spot upon which she had pledged her love to Aragorn.

26 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 88: the Witch-King

The Witch-King at Minas Morgul; John Howe

Also known as: the Lord of the Nazgûl, the Lord of the Nine Riders and King of the Nine Riders, the Wraith-Lord and Wraith-King, the Morgul-lord, the Morgul-king, the King of Minas Morgul, the Lord of Morgul, the Black Captain, the Captain of Despair, the Captain of Sauron, the Black Rider, the Black Shadow, the Dwimmerlaik, and the High Nazgûl. His real name remains unknown.

SA 1600 – TA 3019

The Witch-King was the mightiest of Sauron’s servants; he was once a king and sorcerer, enslaved by Sauron when he received the greatest of the Nine Rings. His fortunes were bound to Sauron’s, and when he arose again in TA 1300, he formed the realm of Angmar, of which he became King. As the Witch-King of Angmar, he sought to destroy the Dúnedain of Arnor; until 1975, he waged wars on the North-Kingdom. Though he finally crushed Arthedain, his own armies were destroyed by the armies of Círdan, Glorfindel, and Eärnur of Gondor during the Battle of Fornost.

In 2000, the Witch-King and other Nazgûl attacked Minas Ithil, and after a two-year siege, took the city, which was then renamed Minas Morgul. In 2043 and 2050, he challenged Eärnur, now the King of Gondor, to single combat. In 2050, the challenge was accepted, and Eärnur was slain.

The Witch-King fronted the search for Frodo during the War of the Ring; he stabbed Frodo atop Weathertop; and he led the army that attacked Minas Tirith during the Siege of Gondor. While he killed King Théoden of Rohan during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, he was in turn slain by Éowyn and Meriadoc Brandybuck, thus fulfilling Glorfindel’s prophecy that he would not fall by the hand of any man.

With the passing of the Witch-King, the armies of Morgul were left without a captain, and they were all destroyed in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. Minas Morgul was later destroyed by the Dúnedain.

25 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 87: Farmer Maggot

The Maggots were a family of Hobbits who lived in the Marish, on the prosperous farm of Bamfurlong: the family consisted of Farmer Maggot, his wife, and at least three daughters and three sons. He was friendly with Tom Bombadil, with whom he frequently exchanged visits; Bombadil called him Muddy-feet in jest. 

Farmer Maggot was a respectable Hobbit, famous for his mushrooms, which were the frequent target of thieves – in particular, a young Frodo Baggins, who was traumatized as a youth when caught and beaten by Farmer Maggot, who then set his pack of guard dogs (Fang, Grip, and Wolf) on him.

In The Fellowship of the Ring, the Maggot family welcomed the four Hobbits into their home, fed them supper, and Farmer Maggot drove them to the ferry to escape the Black Riders. Frodo, though still traumatized by his previous experience with Maggot, discovered that Maggot held no grudge against him; in fact, he was quite friendly.

24 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 86: the Battle of Fornost

The Battle of Fornost, fought in TA 1975, was the final battle of the Dúnedain and their allies against the forces of Angmar. The Battle came following the Fall of Fornost in TA 1974, when the land was overrun by the armies of Angmar. 

The forces of Círdan of Lindon and Eärnur of Gondor, combined with the remnants of the people of Northern Dúnedain and forces from Rivendell (led by Glorfindel), were victorious in driving out the Witch-king, destroying his army as well as the power of Angmar. But the Witch-king was not physically defeated; Glorfindel prophesised that he would not die at the hand of a mortal Man (he would later be slain by Éowyn at the Battle of the Pelennor Fields during the War of the Ring). 

Years later, when Eärnur became the King of Gondor, the Witch-king resurfaced and challenged him; Eärnur initially refused, but when the Witch-king challenged him again seven years later, he agreed. Eärnur rode into Minas Morgul, where he was taken by the Nazgûl and never heard from again; following his disappearance, the South Kingdom of Gondor did not have another king until after the War of the Ring.

23 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 85: the One Ring

The One Ring was the greatest of the Rings of Power; it was crafted in secret in the fires of Orodruin by Sauron, whose intent was to have dominion over all of the other Rings. Through the One Ring, he was able to corrupt the bearers of the Nine Rings; Celebrimor, however, knew of Sauron’s ill intent, and managed to keep the Three Rings free of his influence.

The One Ring was a plain gold band, with a finely engraved inscription that could only be revealed through heat. Purely evil, the Ring seemed to have a will of its own; Gandalf claimed that it had wanted to be found by Bilbo, and it always sought to return to its master. The Ring exhausted those who possessed it, unless they were (like Sauron) of great power; those who were of little power found that the Ring made them invisible, and heightened their senses of sight and hearing. The Ring extended the lifespan of its master, who was physically changed by it, and who found themselves enslaved by it. The Ring made them jealous, greedy, and distrustful of others.

In SA 3441, Isildur took the One Ring from Sauron, whose hand he cut off in battle. Instead of destroying the Ring, Isildur kept it until it betrayed him, slipping from his finger during the Battle of Gladden Fields and revealing him to the Orcs, who shot and killed him. The Ring remained lost in the Anduin until TA 2463, when it was found by Déagol. His cousin, Sméagol (later known as Gollum) murdered him for the Ring, and after being exiled by his relatives, made his way into the Misty Mountains, where he remained for five hundred years. In TA 2941, Gollum lost the Ring, which was then picked up by the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins during the Quest for Erebor. In TA 3001, Frodo inherited the Ring from Bilbo, and later embarked on a journey to destroy the Ring in the fires of Mount Doom. This task was accomplished in TA 3019; and the destruction of the One Ring prevented Sauron from ever taking shape again.

Also called the Great Ring, the One, the Ring, the Ring of Rings, the Ring of Doom, the Ring of Power, the Ruling Ring, the Master-Ring, Isildur’s Bane, the Burden, and Preciouss.

22 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 84: the Farewell Party

On September 22, TA 3001, Bilbo Baggins threw a Birthday Party (also known as the Long-Expected Party) for himself and for his heir, Frodo Baggins. Bilbo was celebrating eleventy-one years, while Frodo, aged thirty-three, was celebrating his coming of age. The Party, held in the Party Field, welcomed 144 guests (primarily family and close friends) and was abundant in food, fireworks (by none other than Gandalf), and lavish presents, coming from places as far away as Erebor. 

Near the end of the Party, following Bilbo’s Speech, he slipped on the One Ring and vanished from the Shire, leaving all of his possessions to Frodo - including the One Ring. Years later, as Gandalf learned of the power of the One Ring, and of the Enemy's determination to find it, Frodo set out on what would eventually become his perilous quest into Mordor to destroy the Ring of Power.

How Old Would They Be Today?

I'll admit that I have no idea how to convert Shire Reckoning dates into a more familiar mode, but using the publication date of The Return of the King for calculations, we can estimate that today, Frodo and Bilbo would be about 108 and 186, respectively:

Given that:

In 1955 when Return of the King was published, Frodo Baggins had sailed to the Undying Lands at the age of 52; which would have made Bilbo, who was 78 years older, 130 years of age.

Add 56 years to get to present-day (2011):

52 + 56 = 108 years for Frodo; 130 + 56 = 186 years for Bilbo

21 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 83: Bag End

John Howe
“In a hole in the ground, there lived a Hobbit…”

Bag End, built in TA 2889 by Bungo Baggins (Bilbo’s father), was a dwelling in Hobbiton, at the end of Bagshot Row. Bilbo inherited Bag End from his parents, and lived there on his own for a time, until he adopted Frodo Baggins, who came to live there as well.

Bag End was slightly more luxurious than the other Hobbit holes, and was greatly desired among the other Hobbits – in particular, Bilbo’s cousins, the Sackville-Bagginses. It was rumoured to have been stuffed with treasures, which Bilbo had acquired from the Dwarves of Erebor. Thus, Bag End gained a reputation as being both magnificent and mysterious.

Following Bilbo’s return to Rivendell and Frodo’s escape from the Shire, Bag End went to the Sackville-Bagginses in 3018. They remained there until Lobelia’s imprisonment and Lotho’s death; Bag End later became Saruman’s headquarters, and after his death, it fell back into Frodo’s possession.

Two years later, when Frodo sailed over the Sea and into the Undying Lands, Bag End and everything else in Frodo’s estate went to Samwise Gamgee and his heirs.

20 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 82: Frodo Baggins

Frodo Baggins (b. TA 2968; 1368 in Shire Reckoning) was a Hobbit of the Shire, who, like Bilbo, undertook a perilous quest. In Frodo’s case, his journey brought him to Mount Doom to destroy the One Ring, which Bilbo had found during the Quest of Erebor.  

Frodo was the only son of Drogo Baggins and Primula Brandybuck; upon their death in a boating accident, Frodo was adopted by Bilbo Baggins, who lived in Bag End. When Bilbo left the Shire in 3001, everything in Bag End – including the One Ring – went to Frodo.

In 3018, Frodo set out to Rivendell using the name Underhill (at Gandalf’s advice), seeking escape from the Nazgûl. Accompanying him were the Hobbits Peregrin Took, Samwise Gamgee, and Meriadoc Brandybuck; along the way, they encountered the Ranger Strider, who served as their guide. While camped at Amon Sûl, Frodo was stabbed by the Witch King of Angmar, the Lord of the Nazgûl; with the aid of his companions and the Elf Glorfindel, he was safely escorted to Rivendell, where he was treated by Lord Elrond (though the wound would never fully heal) and later reunited with Gandalf.

While in Rivendell, Frodo volunteered during the Council of Elrond to take the One Ring into Mordor. He set out with eight others – Sam, Merry, Pippin; the Men Aragorn and Boromir; Legolas of Mirkwood; Gimli son of Gloin; and Gandalf – and collectively, they were known as the Fellowship of the Ring.  They traveled through the Mines of Moria, where Frodo was nearly incapacitated by a cave troll; though he was protected by a shirt of mithril. Soon after, Gandalf fell protecting the Fellowship from the Balrog of Moria. Without him, the Company pushed on into Lothlórien, where Frodo saw in the Mirror of Galadriel the fate of Middle-earth, should he fail his quest.

{~From here on, it is assumed that the reader has either read The Lord of the Rings or seen Peter Jackson's films; therefore, it would be redundant to recount all the details here regarding the breaking of the Fellowship, Frodo and Sam’s encounter with Gollum and subsequent capture by Faramir, Shelob’s Lair and Cirith Ungol, etc... If you really want to know more, go read the books or watch the films – after all, it’s Tolkien Week, the perfect time to do so!~}  

Upon reaching Sammath Naur, Frodo had a change of heart and claimed the Ring for himself. Gollum, in an attempt to reclaim his Precious, bit off Frodo’s finger; in his excitement, he tumbled off the edge of the cliff and fell – with the Ring – into the pit of fire, thus fulfilling the Quest. 

Following the War of the Ring, Frodo became Mayor of Michel Delving for a time (November 3019 – Midyear’s Day 3020). He also recorded his account of the War of the Ring in the Red Book of Westmarch, which also contained Bilbo’s writings and his account of the Quest of Erebor. But his physical wounds and the discontent he felt in his heart and mind were too great; thus, he sailed – at the age of fifty-two on September 22, 1421 Shire Reckoning – with Bilbo over the Sea with the Last Riding of the Keepers of the Rings, leaving everything to Samwise Gamgee.

Also known as: the Ring-bearer, Frodo of the Nine-Fingers, and Nine-fingered Frodo.


Frodo was voiced by Christopher Guard in Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings; Billy Barty served as the model for the live-action recordings 

He was voiced by Orson Bean in the 1980 Rankin/Bass animated version of The Return of the King

Frodo was played by Ian Holm in the 1981 BBC radio serialisation of The Lord of the Rings; Holm later portrayed Bilbo in Peter Jackson’s film adaptation of The Lord of the Rings

Elijah Wood portrayed Frodo in Jackson’s films, and will be making an appearance in the upcoming film adaptations of The Hobbit

19 September 2011

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 81: Bilbo Baggins

Bilbo Baggins (b. TA 2890) was a Hobbit of the Shire, and the Head of the Baggins family. Unlike the other Hobbits, he was a bachelor, living a quiet, solitary life at Bag End in Hobbiton – until being coerced by the wizard Gandalf to become involved in the Quest of Erebor (TA 2941), in which he accompanied thirteen Dwarves (led by Thorin Oakenshield) to reclaim Erebor from the dragon Smaug. It was during this quest that Bilbo found the One Ring and won it in a game of Riddles against Gollum. Following the quest, in which Smaug was defeated and Erebor reclaimed for the Dwarves, Bilbo returned to his home in the Shire with a modest share of the dragon’s hoard, and went on living peaceably, though under the scrutiny and suspicion of his fellow Hobbits. 

In TA 2980, Bilbo adopted Frodo Baggins, the orphaned son of Drogo and Primula Baggins, who had both drowned in a boating accident. On September 22, their mutual birthday, in the year 3001, Bilbo threw a grand birthday party for him and his heir, known as the Farewell Feast. Following a short speech, Bilbo vanished, leaving everything at Bag End (including Bag End itself) to Frodo – even the One Ring. 

Bilbo went to Imladris, where he remained for twenty years among the Elves of Rivendell, studying Elven-lore, and writing his own poetry and walking-songs. He also wrote an account of the Quest of Erebor in the Red Book of Westmarch, which would later be added to by Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee following the War of the Ring and their journey into Mordor. 

In 3021, Bilbo went over the Sea with the Last Riding of the Keepers of the Rings. At 131 years and 8 days of age at the time of his departure from Middle-earth, Bilbo became the longest-lived Hobbit in history (due, in part, to the Ring’s influence in the many years in which he possessed it). 


Bilbo Baggins was played by Paul Daneman in the 1968 BBC Radio serialisation of The Hobbit

In a performance released on Argo Records in 1974, he was portrayed by Nicol Williamson

He was voiced by Orson Bean in the 1977 Rankin/Bass animated version of The Hobbit; and by Norman Bird in Ralph Bakshi’s 1978 animated version of The Lord of the Rings
Ian Holm portrayed Bilbo in Peter Jackson’s film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings; he will also portray an older Bilbo in the Jackson’s upcoming adaptations of The Hobbit, in which Martin Freeman will portray a younger Bilbo