31 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 215: Bór

Bór was an Easterling chieftain who came with his people into Beleriand in the year after the Battle of Sudden Flame. He and his people remained loyal to the Eldar and took service with them, swearing allegiance to Maedhros and Maglor. Together they fought the forces of the traitor Ulfang the Black; Bór’s three sons – Borlad, Borlach, and Borthand – slew Ulfang’s sons, Ulfast and Ulwarth, but were themselves slain in battle, along with the rest of their folk.

30 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 214: Avallónë

Avallónë (Q. ‘near Valinor’) was the Haven of the Eldar, a city located in Tol Eressëa (‘the Lonely Isle’). It was founded by the Teleri who had dwelt there for a time before making the Great Journey to Aman. The Tower of Avallónë was said to be visible from the summit of the Meneltarma in Númenor, thus making it a symbol of the Blessed Realm.

29 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 213: the Host of Valinor

The Host of Valinor (also known as the Host of the West) was the army of the Valar. The Host, led by Eönwë, consisted primarily of the Valar and Maiar (among them Oromë); the Vanyar and the Noldor also marched with the Host; and the Teleri agreed to sail its ships. With the assistance of the Eagles and Eärendil, the Host of Valinor destroyed the power of Morgoth during the Great Battle at the end of the First Age.

28 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 212: Illuin

Illuin (Q. ‘Sky blue’) was the more northerly of the two Lamps of the Valar (the other being Ormal) created by Aulë to bring light to the Valar. Both Lamps were destroyed by Morgoth in a war against the Valar; neither one was ever rebuilt, and when the Valar moved from Almaren (which had also been destroyed) to Valinor, the Two Trees lit the ‘Blessed Realm,’ rather than the Two Lamps. The land where Illuin had once stood became the Sea of Helcar.

27 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 211: Himring

On the northern border of East Beleriand, between Maglor’s Gap and Aglon, lay the hill known as Himring (S. ‘Ever-cold’). Following the drowning of Beleriand at the end of the First Age, the peak of Himring remained above the waters. Atop its summit, Maedhros built a great fortress to protect against evil from the north. When the forces of Morgoth overran the passes during the Dagor Bragollach, the sons of Fëanor regrouped at Himring, which they held until their power was broken in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, at which point the fortress fell and the land was taken over by Morgoth’s forces.

26 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 210: Máhanaxar

Máhanaxar (Q.), also known as the Ring of Doom, was the place of judgment and council in Valinor, located near the gates of Valimar and situated adjacent to the Mound of the Two Trees. The thrones of the Valar were arranged in a circle. Melkor and Fëanor were among those judged for their deeds at Máhanaxar.  

25 January 2012

My Latest Project

This is almost completely unrelated to Tolkien (aside from the concept of writing and story-telling), but it is another one of my projects that I would like to promote just a wee bit.

Before I discovered the writings of J.R.R. Tolkien, I had already given my heart to the science fiction genre. Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, Daniel Keyes - these were some of the writers who had an influence on me as a child. By the age of eight, I was writing full-length stories of my own - mainly science fiction, but with some thrillers and crime stories here and there (after I discovered local author Stephen King).

Point being: before I set out to become a credible Tolkien Scholar, my dream was to become a well-known and respected author. Additionally, I have always been very passionate about the English language (perhaps too passionate, according to some); hence my newest project: a blog devoted to the English language (spelling, punctuation) and to writing in general.

I will admit that I am a stickler when it comes to spelling and grammar, and in the course of working as a freelance editor/proofreader have been encouraged to pursue teaching. So why not start a blog? In time, I also hope to be able to post some of my original pieces - film and book reviews, nonfiction, fiction, and so on. So for those of you interested in the non-Tolkien side of my career, look no further.

It's gotten off to a fairly lukewarm start; but that is to be expected. For nearly a month, my Twitter following (@TolkienBritta) lingered at seven; and now, a little over six months later, that number has soared to nearly 700. With passion comes success.

It's not much, but it's slowly growing. And the feedback so far has been encouraging. If you're interested in writing or would like to learn more about the English language (especially if English is not your native tongue), then please check out my new blog, Grammar Nazi Britta. (Yes, the name is a little weak; but it's a start.) And the respective Twitter account for that is @i_Britta (like "I, Robot"; not like iPads or iPods).

As always, I appreciate all of the support and encouragement I've received over the past six or seven months.


Britta xx

LOTRO: Riders of Rohan to Launch This Fall

It was announced earlier this morning that the next expansion pack for Turbine’s The Lord of the Rings Online, the Riders of Rohan, will be released this fall! Featuring an increased level cap of 85, mounted combat, and new locations (such as Amon Hen and Fangorn Forest), the Riders of Rohan expansion is  going to be huge.

“2011 was another banner year for The Lord of the Rings Online with consistent growth for the game, a successful unification of our European and North American services and the success of Rise of Isengard, our best selling expansion to date,” said Kate Paiz, Executive Producer of The Lord of the Rings Online. 

“This is going to be another outstanding year as we celebrate our fifth anniversary and introduce a wealth of new content throughout the year, ending with our arrival in Rohan. One of our largest expansions ever, Rohan is expected to be twice the size of the recent Rise of Isengard expansion and includes the most new game systems and technology we've introduced since 2008's Mines of Moria.”

For more information, visit LOTRO.com

Evangeline Lilly Discusses 'Hobbit' Role

Evangeline Lilly, star of ABC’s hit series LOST, recently spoke with Entertainment Weekly about her newest film, Reel Steel. During the interview, she was asked about her next big role – the warrior Elf Tauriel in Peter Jackson’s adaptation of The Hobbit.

“She is a warrior,” Lilly said. “She’s actually the head of the Elven guard. She’s the big shot in the army. So she knows how to wield any weapon, but the primary weapons that she uses are a bow and arrow and two daggers. And she’s lethal and deadly. You definitely wouldn’t want to be caught in a dark alley next to Tauriel.”

“She’s not in the first film very much,” Lilly responded when asked about Tauriel’s presence in the film. “She comes into the first film near the end, and has a very small part to play. Her role in the second film is much more involved. Although, I have to say, when I first read the scripts and took the job, she had a lot less going on in the second film. I think the role is becoming a bit more demanding than I had expected it to be. There’s a lot more for me to do now, which is a lot of fun, but it’s a little more pressure.”

You can catch a first glimpse of Tauriel in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, in theatres this December.

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 209: Marhwini

Marhwini (‘Friend of Horses’) was a prince of Rhovanion during the time of the invasion of the Wainriders (19th Century TA). Following the death of his father, Marhari, and the defeat of the Northmen by Easterlings in the Battle of the Plains, he led a remnant of his people up the Anduin and into the forest vales; these refugees became the origin of the Éothéod. Those who could not or did not escape became the subjects of the victorious Wainriders. 

Marhwini took part in the uprising of the enslaved northfolk and led a cavalry charge which finally overthrew the Easterlings and drove them back into the east. The former lands of Rhovanion remained in dispute, and Marhwini was forced to abandon them and remain instead by the Anduin.

24 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 208: Mallorn

Mallorn (S. ‘gold-tree’; plural: mellyrn) was the tree of Lórien: its bark was grey or silver, and its blossoms golden. These leaves turned to gold in the autumn but did not fall until the beginning of spring; at that point, the Wood was carpeted and covered in gold, hence it being known as the Golden Wood. It was atop these trees that the Galadrim built their telain.  

While mellyrn were found nowhere else in Middle-earth, a new tree appeared early in the Fourth Age: this tree was grown by Samwise Gamgee, who had been given a single mallorn-seed by the Lady Galadriel. It was planted in the location where the original Party Tree had once been.

23 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 207: the Battle of the Gwathló

The Battle of the Gwathló was the turning point in the War of the Elves and Sauron; in 1700 SA, the Dark Lord’s forces overran Eriador, reaching as far as the River Lhûn. Aiding the Elves of Lindon was Tar-Minastir of Númenor, who sent a great force in aid, which helped to push Sauron back into the south. 

As he retreated towards the River Gwathló (Greyflood), Sauron found reinforcements in Tharbad; however, they were ambushed by a second force of Númenoreans. Part of the Númenorean fleet had been sent southwards, lying in wait for Sauron. When these two armies met at the Battle of the Gwathló, Sauron was heavily defeated, and nearly captured. Though the Númenoreans had freed Eriador from Sauron, they had also earned his hatred.  

Sauron was left crippled after this defeat, and through the ages slowly rebuilt himself until the thirty-third century, when he challenged Ar-Pharazôn.

22 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 206: Irmo

Irmo, more commonly known as Lórien (Q. ‘Dream-land’), was a Lord of the Valar and one of the Fëanturi (he is the brother of Mandos). He is concerned with dreams and visions, and with his spouse Estë, provides recovery and rest to the Eldar and Valar. His common name is also the name of the gardens in which he dwells. The gardens of Lórien are the most beautiful in all of Arda, with many lakes, flowers, and silver willows.

21 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 205: Aredhel

Aredhel (S. ‘Noble Elf’) was the only daughter of Fingolfin. With dark hair and a pale complexion, she only dressed in white and silver (she was called Aredhel the White and Ar-Feiniel, the White Lady of the Noldor or of Gondolin). She went to Middle-earth with the Exiles, and lived with her brother Turgon in Nevrast and Gondolin. By about FA 300, she went to visit the sons of Fëanor; she was separated from her friends and left for dead in Nan Dungortheb, but survived and was later wed to Eöl of Nan Elmoth. She bore him a son, Maeglin, who later persuaded her to return to Gondolin so he could become the rightful heir of Turgon. Eöl followed them, and a quarrel broke out among them before the throne of Turgon; Aredhel was slain by a poisoned arrow as she protected her son from the wrath of Eöl. Maeglin survived, and Eöl was executed for his crime. 

20 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 204: Estë

Estë (Q. ‘Rest), the spouse of Irmo (Lórien), is a Queen of the Valar. She is a Healer who dresses in grey, bringing peace to the wounded and afflicted. She sleeps by day and awakes only at nightfall. Her spouse, Irmo, is the Master of Dreams and Visions. She tends to the fountains and pools in his gardens.

19 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 203: Fram

Fram, son of Frumgar, was a lord of the Men of Éothéod. It was he who slew the dragon Scatha and recovered the Dragon-hoard which had once belonged to the Dwarves of the Grey Mountains. A dispute erupted, and Fram sent the Dwarves a necklace made of the Worm’s teeth, along with an insulting message; in retaliation, the Dwarves slew Fram, further perpetuating the hostilities between the Dwarves and Northern Men.

Casting Call for ‘Hobbit’ Extras!

Want to be in ‘The Hobbit’? If you’re currently living in the Wellington area and are able to work in the country, want no more!

Earlier this morning, a casting call for ‘Hobbit’ extras popped up on TradeMe. They are seeking men and women over the age of 17 and with flexible schedules to play a variety of characters.

They are currently seeking:

• MEN – under 5’4” (163cm)
 • WOMEN – under 5” (155cm)
 • BIG MEN – with character faces – 5’9 and over (175cm+)
 • MEN with LARGE biceps any height.
 • WOMEN with character faces
 • MEN & WOMEN – ELVES slim, athletic, 5’5” – 6’4” (165 – 203cm)

The casting call will take place on Saturday, January 28 from 1pm-4pm at the Belmont Hall – Hutt City. 

The job posting also stresses that applicants should either have NZ residency or a valid work permit.

For more information, view the casting call here.

18 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 202: the Girdle of Melian

Soon after Morgoth returned to Middle-earth with the Silmarils, Melian cast an enchanted barrier over the land of Doriath, which enclosed the areas of Region, Neldoreth, Nivrim, and part of Aelin-uil, and not only kept them safe, but also protected them from the dark influence of Morgoth. Only on two occasions was the enchantment breached: first by Beren, whose doom was greater than Melian’s power, and then by Carcharoth. The Girdle kept Doriath hidden until Melian withdrew her power and went over the Sea following the death of Thingol.

17 January 2012

NZ Government Applauds Sir Peter Jackson

On behalf of the government of New Zealand, Arts, Culture, and Heritage Minister Christopher Finlayson congratulated Sir Peter Jackson on the Golden Globe success of The Adventures of Tintin, a Steven Spielberg film which Jackson produced.

"The award for 'Tintin' as best animated feature is another well-deserved milestone in Sir Peter's already illustrious career," applauded Mr. Finlayson. "The film's state of the art animation produced another wonderful and distinctive fantasy world, and also served as a reminder of the immense contribution he continues to make to the art of motion pictures."

He continued to praise Jackson’s other contributions to the New Zealand community:

"Sir Peter has given back a great deal to the arts in this country. He authored a review of the New Zealand Film Commission that is a basis for ongoing policy work, and in November bought the BATS Theatre building and granted the theatre company a long-term lease. His successes have been good for New Zealand."

Weta Digital is hopeful that Tintin’s success (the film has already grossed $233m USD overseas) will continue to push towards the filming of its sequel, which is set to commence in about twelve months’ time.

Serkis: Smaug Will Be 'Extraordinary'

Actor and motion-capture advocate Andy Serkis took time off from ‘The Hobbit’ – in which he is reprising his role as Gollum and serving as the film’s second unit director – to attend the 2012 Golden Globes. Naturally, questions were asked about the highly-anticipated two-part film, particularly in regards to another exciting character – the dragon Smaug – who will be brought to life via motion capture, in much the same way as Gollum. 

“I can’t give any secrets away, none of those trade secrets,” Serkis responded when asked by MTV News’ Josh Horowitz what the dragon might look like. “I can’t say that because actually it’s still under wraps.”

According to Serkis, Weta Workshop is still working on the dragon’s look, stating that, “It’s still a very secret character that is very closely safeguarded, and it’s still in the design process.”

One thing Andy can tell us about Smaug?

“With an actor like Benedict Cumberbatch playing him, it will be extraordinary.”

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 201: Arvedui

Arvedui (S. ‘Last King’) was the fifteenth and last King of Arthedain (from TA 1964-74).

Following the death of King Ondoher, and his sons Artamir and Faramir, Arvedui claimed the crown of Gondor (TA 1944), as not only was he the Heir of Elendil, but four years prior he had married Ondoher’s only daughter, Fíriel, who was by Númenorean law the heiress to the throne. Gondor, however, did not accept his claim, and instead granted the Crown to Eärnil II, who promised to provide aid to Arvedui.

By late 1973, Arvedui sought Eärnil’s aid against Angmar, but his fleet came too late. As the winter of TA 1974 approached, the Witch-king descended upon the kingdom and captured Fornost. Arvedui and a few loyal guards managed to escape the attack, seeking the help of the snow-dwellers of Forochel; in March of 1975, Círdan the Shipwright sent a rescue ship to Arvedui’s aid, but a wild storm drove the Elf-ship into a pack of ice, and so the last King of Arthedain was drowned. 

16 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 200: Manwë

Manwë Súlimo, brother of Melkor and spouse of Varda (Elbereth), was the greatest of the Ainur and the mightiest of the Aratar. Of all the Ainur, he is the one dearest to Ilúvatar, best understanding his will and thought. In Arda, his concern was with ideas of wind, air, and clouds; he was fond of birds, especially Eagles. His fana is clothed in blue, like his eyes: his sceptre is of sapphire.

In Eä, he is the King of Arda and Lord of the Valar; he rules with his spouse Varda (Elbereth) in Ilmarin atop the summit of Taiquetil. He was a compassionate ruler, and did not understand evil. It was he who was deceived into unchaining Melkor, resulting in the wars of the Elves and Men against the Darkness.

Tintin Takes Home Golden Globe Award

At the 69th Golden Globe Awards ceremony last night, the animated film The Adventures of Tintin, directed by Steven Spielberg and produced by Sir Peter Jackson, took home the award for Best Animated Feature in Film.

Spielberg called the film a "buddy movie," saying, "It shows a man who is a reprobate and a terrible alcoholic who stops drinking -- and when he does, he accomplishes something wonderful."

Tintin has already grossed $233m worldwide, with a series of Tintin films, based on the comic books by Herge, planned to follow. A Tintin sequel is set to begin filming within the next twelve months.

15 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 199: the Ban of the Valar

At the beginning of the Second Age, when the Númenoreans began to settle into their land, the Valar issued a Ban, forbidding the Dúnedain from setting foot on the Undying Lands or sailing into the west out of sight of Númenor’s shores.

Initially, the Edain respected the ban, and were content to explore regions elsewhere; but as their power grew, so, too, did their jealousy. Ar-Pharazôn, the twenty-fifth and final King of Númenor, began to speak out openly against the Valar and the Ban. Believing that by visiting the Undying Lands, the Númenoreans could achieve the immortality which the Valar had been denying them, Ar-Pharazôn took a fleet into West and tried to invade the Undying Lands. The Valar laid down their guardianship of the world, and Númenor was devoured by the Sea.  

14 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 198: Vána

Vána the ‘Ever-Young’ was one of the Valier. She was the spouse of Oromë and the sister of Yavanna. Birds were said to sing and flowers opened at her passing.  Melian the Maia served both Vána and Estë prior to her departure to Middle-earth, tending to the golden flowers of Vána’s gardens.

New Photo of Bilbo With Sting

Along with this newly released photo of the Hobbit Bilbo Baggins, writer/producer Philippa Boyens commented on the challenge of adapting Tolkien's original story into a full-length film, stating that, "The story is very much a children's story so deciding how to tell this was one of the first things we had to do."

"Who is the audience? It is very distinctly different, tonally, to Lord of the Rings until the very end and then you begin to see the world of Middle-earth opening up... but, having said that, we felt that it is the same audience [who will come to see the films] and then you start to worry because it is easy to repeat yourself. It is quite a similar journey, you're going from the Shire to a large, dangerous mountain."

13 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 197: Baranduin

The Baranduin (S. ‘Golden-brown River’) was one of the three main rivers in Eriador, which flowed from its source, Nenuial, into the Sea. In the Shire, it was crossable via the Bridge of Stonebows (known to the Hobbits as the Brandywine Bridge), Buckleberry Ferry, and Sarn Ford.

12 January 2012

Patrick Spadaccino Still Hoping to Be In ‘The Hobbit’!

Back in August, I had the pleasure of interviewing Patrick Spadaccino (you can view that interview here), a wonderful man whom I befriended after posting an article on my blog about his campaign to be in ‘The Hobbit’ films. With the recent release of the first trailer for ‘The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey,’ I thought a follow-up interview with Patrick was in order. 

What sparked your interest in being in The Hobbit, and when did you first begin planning your campaign?

I saw a magazine cover (Entertainment Weekly) that talked about the movie and the fact that Peter Jackson might be playing a much larger role in the production than was originally reported. When that turned out to be true, I thought that with him at the helm, this was going to an utterly amazing production and a once-in-a-lifetime chance to be part of a story I've loved since childhood.

My campaign was born as a simple idea: create a video of myself doing various Tolkien-themed character voices. But that idea went nowhere because I had no clue (at the time) how to get it to Peter or his team. Then, in February 2011, with the first day of Hobbit filming approaching, I had the idea to leverage some of my other abilities: web design, acting, stage makeup, and photography. So many people have used the power of social media to reach a desired goal; why not me, too?

What was the initial reaction from friends and family like, and has it changed at all since this began?

 They're used to my creative bent, so most of them viewed this as business as usual. Some, while they admired the effort, thought that a successful outcome was always an impossible long shot. Maybe true, but I believe in the impossible! I live by faith in all things, great and small. If this was part of God's plan for me, it couldn't be stopped. But I still had to play my part. I'd spent a long time dreaming of this campaign; now it was time to act. My wife has been very supportive, although she found the sight of me in Orc makeup very disturbing.

How many different sources have you reached out to in order to get the word out about your campaign?

Too many to count or remember, although I do have records somewhere in the disaster area that is my desk. I've reached out mostly to newspapers and TV news stations, and also approached several talk show hosts. I have received a lot of wonderful, generous coverage in New Zealand, which was ideal. But I've never heard from anyone on the production team.

What are some of the craziest ideas you’ve thought of (or that have been suggested to you) to help spread the word about your campaign?

Three come to mind. One person suggested I go to New York in full Orc makeup and costume and try to get on the Today show. Not a bad idea, but I was in some ways strapped by practicality. I have a day job, and I had to set some limits on taking time off and spending money on this campaign.

The other idea was not so much crazy as crazy expensive. I wanted to pay for a billboard in New Zealand, right on the road leading to Weta Digital. But the cost was astronomical for someone like me.

Lastly, my childhood friend suggested, and I quote: "Go naked. That'll get his attention." Sigh.

What have you learned about public relations and promoting yourself from this experience?

I learned a surprising lesson: though the world has been made much smaller by technology, it can still be a HUGE undertaking to reach a single person. I mean, I'm ranked fifth in a Google search with the keywords "hobbit movies." Fifth! Marketers pay big bucks for that kind of search engine success. And yet, no one from Peter Jackson's team has seen my site, or if they have, they are not interested in contacting me.

Still, I learned a great deal about the value of internet ads. They were very effective in gaining initial support. I also learned not to be discouraged by "haters," of which there were refreshingly few. If you believe in what you're doing, you can ignore unkind remarks.

For anyone who has plans to do something similar, what advice do you have?

 Be prepared to be PATIENT, and never take offense when people don't seem to be interested in your endeavor. After all, it's your dream. If you want other people to get on board, you have to sell it and make sure you're visible in the right areas (something I'm still not sure I achieved). Lastly, if you're going to do something, do it with passion, do it with all your heart, and do it believing that you can be successful.

Have you thought about writing something based on your adventure, such as a personal journal or an online blog?

 My brother actually recommend I do that. I already journal every day, so I at least have a private record. I'd love to create a more public account, but I think that such a chronicle would be far more interesting if it ended with my name in the credits of The Hobbit movie!

What did you think of The Hobbit trailer?

I loved seeing and hearing Gandalf and Bilbo once again! As wonderfully long as the Lord of the Rings trilogy is, my wife and I always come away saying "I wish it was longer!" We've yearned for more of that wonderful world that Tolkien created and Peter Jackson so vividly, beautifully brought to life.

I did notice a lot of dialog I didn't recognize, but that's to be expected. There is a large amount of narrative in The Hobbit book, so a lot of the interactions between characters will have to be filled in.

There was nothing I didn't like in the trailer itself...it just made me desperately impatient for December 2012. I will reserve judgment about some of the dwarf costumes and characterizations. A lifetime of reading The Hobbit has left me with some of my own particular expectations, and the photos we've seen so far are not always as close to the book's descriptions as some Tolkien fans would like. But bottom line: I have faith in Peter Jackson's vision. ...and regarding the trailer as it relates to my campaign, I still think there's time for me to be involved. I'm really not particular about where I fit in...I'd even be happy as an Easter Egg segment on the Blu-ray!

If the Hobbit movies wrap without you, what will you take away the experience?

 I am intensely proud that instead of just dreaming about this, I actually went out and did it. There were some personal commitments in the fall that kept me from doing everything I would have liked, but I'm still grateful I was able to pursue my dream in this way. I do struggle with procrastination, and I'm glad I successfully bucked that tendency.

I'm very thankful for all the support I received from people whom I've never met face to face. The Tolkien community is truly a community, and it's been great becoming a more active part in it. Most important, I've made some wonderful friends along the way—my gracious interviewer chief among them!

Interested in learning more about Patrick’s campaign to be in ‘The Hobbit’? Our initial interview, which includes more about Patrick and the process of getting into Orc character for his audition videos, can be found here. And show your support by following him on Twitter (@BeInTheHobbit), liking his Facebook page, and visiting his webpage!

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 196: Amon Sûl

Amon Sûl (S. ‘Hill of Winds’) was the tower built upon the summit of Weathertop by Elendil. After Arnor had been divided into three separate states in the Third Age, Amon Sûl marked the point at which the three states came together. The tower of Amon Sûl was also home to the only remaining Palantír of the North-kingdom. The tower and its Seeing-stone remained a constant source of conflict among the three kingdoms.

In TA 1409, an army marched out of Rhudaur and attacked Weathertop in the hopes of razing the tower of Amon Sûl; in the ensuing retreat, the Palantír of Amon Sûl was taken to Fornost, though it was later lost at sea. Following the ending of the North-kingdom, the Weather Hills lost their strategic significance, and the tower of Amon Sûl fell to ruin.

11 January 2012

‘Hobbit’ Secrecy Increases Following Studio Mishap

Following a fire on the set of The Hobbit back in May, which left two crew members with minor burns, the studio has increased its veil of secrecy. 

The fire started when a sculptor with a battery screwdriver was working on a prop pillar coated with polyurethane foam; sparks ignited fumes from the foam, and the man, who had half of his body inside the prop, suffered superficial burns to his nose and face after his head was engulfed in flames. Another worker suffered burns on his hand while beating the flames out.

One investigator on the scene reported that he had been asked to fill out a confidentiality agreement, which a spokeswomen for the Labour Department said was not signed, noting that, “Department of Labour health and safety inspectors have a legal right to enter a workplace.”

Due to the lack of serious harm, the Labour Department did not launch a full investigation. They did, however, discuss ways to prevent a similar accident – among them, using tools less likely to cause sparks.

Firefighters who signed confidentiality agreements with the studio and Weta Workshop months before filming began – something Paul McGill, the Fire Service’s operations and training director, says the organization does not usually do – were unable to discuss the situation with the media.

 “However, personnel at the Kilbirnie fire station, like most Wellingtonians, are very conscious of the importance of the ground- breaking digital film industry to the city,” McGill added. “It does not set any precedent for our work with other companies or organisations.”

A spokeswoman for Three Foot Seven would not comment on the incident, stating that key staff members were currently away.

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 195: Nerdanel

Nerdanel, daughter of Mahtan of Tirion, was a princess of Eldamar, the wife of Fëanor and the mother of his seven sons – Maedhros, Maglor, Celegorm, Curufin, Caranthir, Amrod, and Amras. A patient woman, she initially helped to offset the mighty temper of Fëanor, though they ultimately became estranged from one another as a result of his jealousy and, she did not take part in the revolt of the Noldor.

10 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 194: Nessa

Nessa, the sister of Oromë the Hunter, is one of the Valier (Queens of the Valar). She is noted for being quick and agile, able to outrun the deer which follow her; she is also fond of dancing. At the Feast of the Spring of Arda, she wedded Tulkas the Strong. 

09 January 2012

Franco Pushes for Oscar Nod for Serkis

Joining the growing list of supporters in the “Oscar for Andy Serkis” campaign is his Rise of the Planet of the Apes costar, James Franco.

In an article for the Deadline website, Franco wrote:

"Andy Serkis is the undisputed master of the newest kind of acting called performance capture, and it is time that Serkis gets credit for the innovative artist that he is.”

"This is not animation as much as it's digital 'makeup'. There are plenty of Oscar-winning performances that depended on prosthetic makeup to help create the characters: John Hurt's in The Elephant Man, Nicole Kidman's in The Hours, Sean Penn's in Milk. Those actors depended on makeup artists to augment the look of their characters, but the performance underneath came solely from the actors.”

But the Academy does not currently recognise motion-capture performances as being worthy of an Oscar; not even so much as a nod. With CGI still being a relatively new film-making technique, many audiences do not fully understand the kind of work that is involved in bringing a character like Gollum or King Kong to life on the big screen.

My Tolkien Collection: The One Ring from MyPrecious

This is the first replica I ever bought, and the one most precious to me (go figure). I was about twelve years old when The Fellowship of the Ring movie was released in theatres. For the next two years, I would ask for some sort of replica for my birthday, Christmas, or any other gift-giving occasion that came up. And each year, I was disappointed when I received no such thing.

However, by the time I hit the eighth grade, I managed to make my birthday and Christmas money last longer, until I had finally saved up enough to purchase one of the more inexpensive items available on the Internet. I turned to My Precious Fantasy Webshop, which offered an affordable replica of the One Ring for just $35 (http://www.myprecious.us/jewelry/one-ring.php). I desperately wanted a Ring of Power, and I wanted one that I could wear with me all the time and not have to worry about losing or being robbed of. I ended up purchasing Frodo's Ring with black lettering.

I wore that thing all throughout high school, only taking it off to shower. As you can see, some of the gold plating is only just starting to wear off (only around the inside, though), after having been worn nonstop for almost four straight years. I still haven't upgraded to a more expensive replica, as this one is just perfect - the details, the craftmanship, the durability; not to mention, it came in a beautiful velvet pouch.

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 193: Dior

Dior (FA 470-509) was the son of Beren and Lúthien, called Aranel (‘Star-king’) during his childhood, and later Eluchíl (‘Thingol’s Heir’).  Born on the isle of Tol Galen in Ossiriand, he later made his dwelling at Lanthir Lamath. He wedded Nimloth, a distant kinswoman of Thingol, and she bore him three children: Eluréd, Elurin, and Elwing the White. Dior was said to have been very beautiful, as the blood of the Edain, Eldar, and Maiar flowed in him. 

After the slaying of Thingol by the dwarves who coveted the Nauglamír, Dior became the King of Doriath; but just a few years later, when the Sons of Fëanor learned that the Silmaril that was kept there, they waged war upon the kingdom. 

Both Dior and Nimloth were slain during the Sack of Menegroth, and Eluréd and Elurín captured and left to die in the woods of Doriath; their daughter, Elwing, survived, and with the remaining Elves of Doriath, escaped to the Havens of Sirion. Here she married Eärendil the Mariner, and they sought the help and pardon of the Valar.   

'Hobbit' Auction Reaches Nearly $15,000

A recent auction on TradeMe – which offers an exclusive opportunity to meet Sir Peter Jackson and visit the set of The Hobbit – has closed at $14,490. The auction was part of a fund-raising campaign for Ray Avery’s charity Medicine Mondiale, which designs products and other technologies to help the developing world.

The winner, whose name has not been disclosed, will be allowed to bring a guest to the set, but will be forced to sign a confidentiality agreement and refrain from taking any photos.

TradeMe also held an auction to have the team at Weta Workshop design a cast of the highest bidder’s face, forever suspending their features in time and turning their face into a piece of art. The Workshop, run by Sir Richard Taylor, has created facial casts for a variety of celebrities, including many Lord of the Rings cast members. The auction closed at $1,845.

08 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 192: Gurthang

Gurthang (S. ‘Death-iron’ or ‘Iron of Death’) was the name given to the reforged Anglachel.

Anglachel had originally been forged out of black iron meteorite by the Dark Elf Eöl, who had passed the sword on to Thingol in payment for letting him live in Nan Elmoth; Thingol later gave the sword to Beleg Cúthalion.

When Beleg came to rescue an imprisoned Túrin at Amon Rûdh, he accidentally nicked him in an attempt to cut him free. Túrin, who had been asleep, was startled by this, and believing Beleg to be an Orc come to torture him, seized Anglachel and slew Beleg. After this, he brought the sword to Nargothrond to have it reforged. With this new sword, renamed Gurthang, Iron of Death, he also slew Brandir, after having been informed that his wife, Níniel, was in fact his sister, Nienor. In despair, Túrin fell upon the sword and ended his life.  

My Tolkien Collection: Rawcliffe Pewter Lord of the Rings Figures

Over the summer, I found this beautiful pewter Théoden (and many other Tolkien characters) in a fantasy gift shop. I ended up getting several others - Merry, Pippin, Sam, and Éowyn vs. the Nazgul - for Christmas.

(Click to enlarge)

Poor Théoden won't slay many foes with a bent sword!

These figures are beautifully handcrafted in the US by Rawcliffe, and are based on the books, not the films. I wanted to start posting some of my collection to help add more variety to my blog, and these guys seemed like a great starting point.

Éowyn and Merry fight the Witch-King

Pippin, Merry, Théoden, and Sam

07 January 2012

Join Your Mythgard Regional Chapter Today!

Have you taken or are planning on taking a course at Mythgard? Want to connect with other students, auditors, preceptors, and professors? By joining the "Mythgard Meetups" network, you can now connect more easily with people from your Mythgard regional chapter and host study groups, listen to the lectures live with fellow classmates, or simply communicate in person.

To find your Mythgard Regional Chapter(s) and become a member, visit Mythgard Institute's Mythgard Meetups page.

For the list of spring 2012 courses available at Mythgard, click here

The enrollment deadline is January 13 - that's just 6 more days. What are you waiting for? Apply for M.A. credit or Enroll to Audit now!

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 191: the Uinendili

In SA 750, Prince Anardil (later the ‘Great Captain’ Tar-Aldarion) of Númenor formed a guild of explorers known as the Uinendili, or the Lovers of Uinen (the Maia also known as the Lady of the Seas). Their guildhouse was located aboard Anardil’s floating palace, the great ship Eämbar, which was moored at Tol Uinen in the Bay of Rómenna.

06 January 2012

McKellen, Serkis Among Best Book to Movie Castings

Many thanks to my good friend Jack for sending me this one! LitReactor.com posted a story on their website titled “Top 10 Best Book to Movie Casting Decisions,” and two of our favourite Lord of the Rings cast members made it onto the list.

Sir Ian McKellen and Andy Serkis were applauded for the transformation both actors went through for their roles as Gandalf the Grey/White and Sméagol/Gollum, respectively, in The Lord of the Rings films.  Of Serkis, writer Meredith Borders called Serkis’ perfomance “abidingly creepy and somewhat heartbreaking,” and noted her excitement over both actors’ return for the upcoming Hobbit films, also directed by Peter Jackson.

Others who made it onto the list include Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill a Mockingbird, Jodie Foster as Clarice Starling in The Silence of the Lambs, and Judy Garland as Dorothy from The Wizard of Oz.

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 190: the Pelóri

The Pelóri (Q. ‘Mountains of Defence’ or ‘Fenced heights’) were the mountains of Valinor that had been raised by the Valar in defence against Morgoth. The tallest mountains in the World, they were impassable, save via a single ravine (the Pass of Calacirya). Its highest peak was Oiolossë (Tainquetil), also called the Hill of Ilmarin; upon its summit stood the Oromardi (‘High Halls’) of the Lord and Lady of the Valar.

05 January 2012

New Photo of Martin Freeman as Bilbo

Earlier today, USA Today published a gallery of twelve movie stills (some old and some new) from this year’s upcoming and highly anticipated films – among them, a new photo of Bilbo Baggins (played by Martin Freeman) from Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey, which will hit theatres in 2D, 3D and IMAX this December:

Cumberbatch Reveals Possible Hobbit Spoiler

In a recent interview with Empire Magazine, Benedict Cumberbatch spoke about his dual roles in The Hobbit, and let slip a possible spoiler regarding the conclusion of the two-part adaptation.

Spoiler alert – if you don’t want to know, stop reading now!

 “I’ll be doing bits on The Hobbit in 2012,” he told Empire. “I’m playing Smaug through motion-capture and voicing the Necromancer, which is a character in the Five Legions War or something which I’m meant to understand. (Laughs) He’s not actually in the original Hobbit. It’s something he’s taken from Lord Of The Rings that he wants to put in there.”

If you’ve read The Hobbit, you know that he is referring to the Battle of the Five Armies. And you’re probably also aware that the Necromancer (whom we all know is the Dark Lord Sauron) is driven out of Mirkwood and sent back to Mordor prior to the great battle; yet based on Cumberbatch’s revelation, it seems like he may make an appearance in the final battle, perhaps as a means of providing a transition from The Hobbit to The Lord of the Rings.  

Of course, there’s really only one way to find out for sure whether or not the Necromancer is present during the Battle of Five Armies: we’ll just have to wait until the release of There And Back Again in December 2013.

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 189: Echoriath

The Echoriath (also called the Encircling Mountains) were the mountains between the Pass of Sirion and Dorthonion; hidden in its midst was the valley of Tumladen and the city of Gondolin. The Eagles nested in the Crissaegrim, the southern Echoriath.

04 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 188: Sauron

Sauron (Q. ‘Abominable’) was an Ainu and one of the Maiar of Aulë. Early in the First Age, he was seduced by Melkor becoming his chief servant, and later the self-styled ruler of Middle-earth. 

The First Age

According to several notes by Tolkien, Sauron’s original name was Mairon. In the beginning, he served the Vala Aulë, from whom he learned great craft. Soon after, he was seduced by Melkor and renamed Sauron; and when the original Dark Lord began stirring Evil in Arda (long before the Elves had awoken in Cuiviénen), Sauron was already his most powerful and accomplished servant. But where Melkor desired to mar and destroy Arda, Sauron sought dominance over the will of its inhabitants.

When Morgoth left Angband to corrupt the newly awakened Men, Sauron directed the war on the Elves. His armies of werewolves and Orcs captured the tower of Minas Tirith, which had been built by Finrod, and the island of Tol Sirion on which the tower lay was renamed Tol-in-Gaurhoth (‘Isle of Werewolves’); here Sauron dwelt as the Lieutenant of Morgoth.  Here he was slain by Lúthien and Huan the Hound, who had come to Tol-in-Gaurhoth to rescue Beren.

After the coming of the Host of the Valar, the destruction upon Morgoth and his forces was so great that the Eldar believed Evil had been ended for ever; yet somehow, Sauron managed to survive the Breaking of Thangorodrim. When he was summoned by Eonwë to be judged for his crimes, Sauron refused and fled.

The Second Age and the Forging of the Rings of Power

Sauron reappeared about 500 years into the Second Age.  Though his appearance was terrible, Sauron could still appear fair in form; treachery and deceit were his chief weapons. Many of the names he took signified reverence with Aulë; by SA 1500, he called himself the Annatar, ‘Lord of Gifts.’ Though many of the Elves – such as Gil-galad and Galadriel – were distrustful of Sauron, a few did listen to him: when approached by Sauron, Celebrimor of Eregion, the greatest surviving craftsman, agreed to deal with him, each providing the other with knowledge; it was they who formed the Rings of Power together. In secret, he wrought the One Ring, which would rule over the other Rings of Power, as long as their owners wore them. 

By the time his true nature was revealed and the Elves brought war upon him, it was too late: so great was his strength that Eregion was overrun and Celebrimor slain, and of the Rings of Power, the Seven and Nine were reclaimed. The Edain of Númenor renewed their alliance with the Elves, thus gaining the hatred of Sauron, who was forced to withdraw from Eriador. He then began to occupy a volcanic wasteland, which he called the ‘Black-Land’ of Mordor.

The Downfall of Númenor

With the island realm of Númenor growing in power, Sauron sent fleets to attack; but the forces of Ar-Pharazôn were so great that again, Sauron was defeated. However, he perceived that King was a vain man: and so he humbled himself, appealing to Pharazôn. The King brought him back to Númenor as a prisoner, and Sauron quickly became his chief counsellor. During this time, evil sacrifices were made to Sauron’s former Master, and the name Morgoth was spoken in admiration. After less than fifty years in captivity, Sauron persuaded Ar-Pharazôn to assemble the Great Armament and wage war on the Undying Lands (SA 3319). 

In the Downfall of Númenor, Sauron’s mortal body was destroyed, but his surviving spirit returned to Middle-earth, filled with a vengeance. He could no longer appear in a pleasing form; instead, he became the Dark Lord, a single lidless Eye. When he learned of a remnant of the Númenoreans were building realms-in-exile upon his borders, he immediately struck. But his enemies, whom he had again underestimated, took up an alliance against him, laying siege upon the Dark Tower. In a final battle with Gil-galad and Elendil, Sauron was defeated, and the One Ring taken from him.

The Third Age

Sauron was too weak to recapture Mordor at the start of the Third Age; instead, he raised a smaller fortress, Dol Guldur, on a hill in Greenwood the Great (which he renamed Mirkwood). Orcs and Trolls began appearing in large numbers, and the power of ‘the Necromancer’ lingered over the forest. Still too weak to attack his enemies, he sent his chief servant, the Lord of the Nazgûl, to destroy the North-kingdom. After the subsequent weakening of the South-kingdom, Mordor was reoccupied by the Nazgûl.

While the Wise debated whether or not Sauron had awakened, the Dark Lord himself shifted his attention to reclaiming the Ruling Ring. Driven from Dol Guldur, he openly returned to Mordor. This time, however, he refused to attack his foes until he had the Ring. As he hesitated, his enemies campaigned against him, and ultimately his plans and armies were destroyed, the Dark Tower fell, and the Ruling Ring was destroyed in the Fires of Mount Doom. Sauron was cast into the Void for ever and the World lifted of the fear of his dominion.

Other Names and Titles

The High-Elves named him Sauron ‘the Abhorred,’ while the Grey-Elves knew him as Gorthaur ‘the Cruel.’

He was also known as: Sauron the Deceiver, the Lord of the Earth, Black Master of the Land of Mordor, the Enemy, the Master, Enemy of the Free Peoples, Eye of the Dark Tower, Seducer, Betrayer and Shadow of Despair, the Dark Lord, the Dark Power, the Black One, the Lord of Barad-dûr, the Lord of the Rings of Power, the Lidless Eye, the Evil Eye, the Nameless One, the Nameless Eye, He or Him, the Ringmaker; and he was referred to as the Black Hand by Gollum.

03 January 2012

What Tolkien Means to Me

It occurs to me that most of my entries in this blog are not personal in nature and do nothing to help truly connect with my fellow Tolkien enthusiasts. In honour of Professor Tolkien’s birthday today, I’d like to share a few words regarding the impact his writings have had on me.

I’ll start by admitting that I am very much a realistic individual. I have never enjoyed fantasy as I knew it before Tolkien: faeries, wizards, magic – as a child, I could hardly imagine such a world where these things existed. And if I couldn’t believe in it, I didn’t want to read or even think about it.

I was almost eleven years old by the time I discovered J.R.R. Tolkien. Previously, my interest had been in science fiction – Isaac Asimov, Ray Bradbury, George Orwell, and so on. My first step into the realm of fantasy was when, at the age of ten, Brian Jacques’ Redwall series somehow captured my interest and began to take up a great deal of my reading time. I say somehow because from what I can remember, it was basically rabbits and badgers and other furry animals talking with one another and going off into battle and doing other humanistic things that animals don’t normally do. At that point, my mother suggested I try reading The Hobbit; I remember my initial response being a rather snobbish, “What the heck is a Hobbit?” The name alone suggested something completely unreal, and the more I heard the word, the more I convinced myself I probably wouldn’t be interested.

I still don’t know if my mother has ever read any Tolkien herself, but where I was an avid reader always in search of a good book, she kept insisting that I at least read a few chapters of The Hobbit before completely making my mind up against it. As I wondered whether or not I could get into a book like that, making every excuse not to (“I don’t have time to go to the library, mom!” “I’m sure they won’t have it there!”), my uncle offered me his copy, assuring me that I would love it…

As it turned out, “love” was quite an understatement. There was something about The Hobbit that felt real, not imagined or made up like all the other stories I’d read. Sure, there were dragons and wizards and other fantasy elements throughout, but they were secondary and did not distract from the main plot, which I liked. It felt more like a historical account or a mythological tale – which, having taken several Latin classes at that point, had been heavily taught in school, and therefore were of interest to me.

I quickly moved on to The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion, The Lays of Beleriand, Unfinished Tales, The Lost Road and Other Writings, and so on; and the more I read, the more three-dimensional Middle-earth became. When I struggled to “find myself” during adolescence, Middle-earth became a sort of safe haven. I spent more time reading Tolkien and writing “for fun” essays on The Lord of the Rings than I did trying to make friends or socialise with my classmates. As a result, people thought I was a little weird – but when you’re as passionate about something as I was with Tolkien, you don’t really pay that any mind; eventually, my “weirdness” gained me quite a reputation in middle and high school – I believe “Elf Girl” was what they used to call me – and despite making no serious attempts to fit in with my peers, I found myself quickly attracting many like-minded individuals.

Throughout high school, I continued writing Tolkien essays and character analyses in my free time; at one point, I even submitted a copy to a local college professor, hoping for some input. His reception was both honest and encouraging, and I knew from that moment on that I wanted to become a serious Tolkien Scholar and one day publish some of my essays – and maybe, if I was lucky, publish a book or go on to teach a course on Tolkien.

It was difficult to branch out and make myself known back then (before the social networking era); less than six months ago, I made the decision to begin Tweeting, blogging, and actively trying to participate within the Tolkien community, and in such a short amount of time, I’ve already come much further than I thought. Not long after I began this blog, I became a contributing writer for the Middle-earth Network, and am now doing what I had hoped to be doing ten years ago (I still haven’t published a book or taught any courses, but there is still plenty of time for that). And I am even more grateful now than I probably would have been in my youth. As much as I wanted to be a well-known Tolkien Scholar at thirteen or fourteen years old, and despite all of the papers and analyses I wrote, looking back, I still wonder if anyone would have taken a pre-teen self-proclaimed Tolkien Scholar seriously.

But the greatest recompense to have come from my Tolkien studies and participation within the Tolkien community is, as I’ve probably said countless times before, the community itself. Already I have struck up invaluable friendships with many fellow enthusiasts. I’ve connected with people from all over the world, people of various ages and cultures, people who prefer the books over the films (or vice versa); but they all have one thing in common: their love of Tolkien is what has brought us all closer together. And I strongly feel that the Tolkien community is the greatest fan community out there. I don’t think a person could ever find a friendlier group of people.   

It is still very surreal to think that it was ten years ago that I first read and fell in love with Tolkien, and that it has essentially taken up half of my lifetime (which, at twenty-one years old, is a decent amount of time to devote to something). 

Like I said before, I had – and still have – a very strong aversion to the fantasy genre. I read the Harry Potter series and some of Narnia, and thankfully, I never got into the Twilight series (sparkling vampires? Excuse me?). Despite my lack of interest in fantasy tales, there is something about The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and everything else Professor Tolkien has written that set these stories apart from all the other tales out there. One can really feel the passion that went into creating Middle-earth. I am sure that if he were alive today, Tolkien would be delighted to see the following he has gained and kept over a span of many decades.

It is my hope that I will soon be able to start posting more original pieces on my blog beyond my “365 Days of Middle-earth” and Hobbit movie updates. I am beyond grateful and appreciative of all the support and encouragement I have received so far, and I look forward to seeing what other doors may open for me in 2012.  

Once again, thanks for all the support! A very happy birthday, Professor Tolkien!


365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 187: Fíriel

Fíriel (S. ‘Mortal-woman’) was the daughter of King Ondoher of Gondor. Following the death of her father and brothers in the Battle of the Camp, she became the Ruling Queen. Her husband Arvedui, a direct descendant of Isildur, claimed the throne; however, he was rejected, and the crown went to Eärnil II. Fíriel remained in the north with her husband, though it was likely she fled with her son Aranarth to Lindon when Arthedain was destroyed by Angmar.

02 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 186: the Houses of Healing

The hospital facility in Minas Tirith, known as the Houses of Healing, was located in the southeastern part of the sixth level of the city and consisted of several houses, each with a number of rooms.

Following the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, many of the wounded were brought to the Houses of Healing to be cared for by the healers and herb-masters. When Aragorn sought Athelas to help heal the wounded – among them Faramir, Éowyn, and Merry – he found that the plant was not kept in the Houses, as its healing properties were then unknown. When at last the plant was found and brought to him, Aragorn used it to heal his three patients. 

During her stay in the Houses of Healing, Éowyn became troubled by her feelings for Aragorn; when Faramir asked her to marry him, she accepted. Though she was then released from the warden’s care, she remained in the Houses of Healing until her brother Éomer returned to Minas Tirith.  

01 January 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 185: Farin

Farin (TA 2560-2803), son of Borin, was the father of Fundin and Gróin, and the uncle of Thrór. He lived in Erebor, but was forced to flee after Smaug descended upon the mountain. He spent the remainder of his life in Dunland.