31 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 275: Gorhendad Oldbuck

The founder of Buckland, Gorhendad Oldbuck came from a family prominent in the Shire. Originally living in the Marish, he crossed the Brandywine in TA 2340 and settled eastward on a strip of land between the river and the Old Forest, which he called Buckland. It was here that Gorhendad began the excavation of the Hill of Buckland (which he named Brandy Hall) and changed the family name to Brandybuck. His heirs were known as the Masters of Buckland.   

30 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 274: Ilmarin

Ilmarin (Q. ‘Mansion of the High Airs’) was the palace which stood atop the peak of Taniquetil (the tallest peak of all the mountains in the world). It was home to the Valar King and Queen, Manwë and Varda. From its domed halls, the two were able to survey all of Arda.

29 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 273: the Stone of the Hapless

This large stone, raised over the burial mound of Túrin Turambar and inscribed with his and Nienor’s names, was also the spot at which their mother, Morwen, was buried. Glirhuin of Brethil foretold that this Stone would never be defiled or taken down, and following the ruin of Beleriand, it did not fall, but instead became the centre of the island of Tol Morwen.  

28 March 2012

Billy Boyd: the Importance of Film Festivals

In Muscat to participate in the seventh edition of the Muscat International Film Festival (MIFF), actor and musician Billy Boyd talked about the benefits of film festivals – such as how they can boost an emerging industry.

“I think it is important to have a festival because then governments will start noticing the interest and start supporting,” he said. “Those interested in films have to keep pushing and get noticed.”

Using Scotland as an example, he said, “Though we have film festivals, we don’t have an industry and it’s still so difficult to make a movie. So I feel it’s important to hold festivals.”

“In Scotland, we make some wonderful films and we don’t have an industry. I think it’s important to have things like this because just by having these festivals, the government will see things or we need to get an industry.”

When it comes to attending festivals, Boyd admits, “I don’t participate in a lot of festivals. I wish I could go for more but I always enjoy it when I do attend. I have started to do the famous festivals like the Toronto, Edinburg, Berlin.”

“They are wonderful but sometimes, like in the Cannes, they become something else. People are trying to sell their movies hard. It’s not sometimes love for films that you sometimes get in smaller festivals. I kind of enjoy going to them. Sometimes you get to see some wonderful films there and wonder why is this film not huge?”

In addition to music and acting, Billy Boyd is also passionate about traveling.
“I think travelling is one of the most important things we can do as human beings. A lot of the problems in the world happen when people don’t travel.”

“The more you isolate yourself, the more you see others as enemies. You have seen this happen all through history and time. When we travel we understand that all are basically human beings; we all have the same kind of internal emotions, drives and goals.”

“The more you travel the more you realise the world is small. We are all trying to get through.”

Speaking of Oman, where the MIFF took place, Boyd described it as “a beautiful place,” adding, “I really love this region and am definitely going to spend more time here. I find it incredibly interesting and love the spiritual side of it. I think there is something special about coming here.”

Currently, he is keeping himself busy with his band, Beecake, and with the development of an upcoming movie with friend and fellow Lord of the Rings star Dominic Monaghan.

You can view the full story at Times of Oman, and for more on Billy’s upcoming  projects, you can follow his band on Twitter: @OfficialBeecake.

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 272: Stoors

The Stoors were one of the three strains of Hobbits, originally living in the upper vales of the Anduin. The last Hobbit-clan to leave the area, they were larger and heavier in build than the other two breeds – the Harfoots and the Fallohides – and were also the only group to grow beards. They also knew more about boating, swimming, and fishing.  And of the three strains of Hobbits, the Stoors were friendlier with the race of Men.

After they crossed the Misty Mountains and began traveling westward, they settled for a time in Dunland or the Angle; but with the rising of Angmar, the Angle Stoors either fled to Dunland or re-crossed the Misty Mountains and set up dwellings in the Gladden Fields. The Dunland Stoors, however, remained where they were until the founding of the Shire. They eventually joined their kinfolk, settling mostly in the Eastfarthing, near the banks of the Baranduin. Some later crossed the river to live in the area known as Buckland. By the time of the War of the Ring, Stoors were common in both the Marish and in Buckland.

27 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 271: Armenelos

Armenelos [the Golden] (Q. ‘Royal-fortress-of-the-Heavens’) was the chief city of Númenor, and in its later years, the largest. Standing near the centre of the island at the feet of the Meneltarma, it had surpassed Andúnië as Númenor’s capital. Located here were the Court of the Kings, Nimloth, and (eventually) the Temple built by Sauron. Armenelos, with the rest of Númenor, was destroyed in the Downfall in SA 3319.

26 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 270: Anárion

Anárion was the younger son of Elendil and the brother of Isildur. The three of them led the Faithful, those who resisted the dark rule of King Ar-Pharazôn (who had fallen under the influence of Sauron), to Middle-earth, where brothers established and jointly ruled the kingdom of Gondor (Anárion established his house in Minas Anor, and Isildur in Minas Ithil). In 3429 when Sauron attacked Gondor, Anárion defended Osgiliath and with the help of the Second Army was able to confine the Enemy to the shore of the Anduin; meanwhile, Isildur went to his father in the North, where they rallied the Dúnedain and formed the Last Alliance with the Elves. Anárion joined the Last Alliance into Mordor, where he was slain by a stone cast from Barad-dûr. He was succeeded by his fourth child, Meneldil.  

25 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 269: Mordor

Mordor (S. ‘Black-Land’), also known as the Land of Shadow, was the realm of Sauron the Great, chosen by him in the Second Age to serve as a fortress-land. Prior to Sauron’s occupation, the land had been deserted and infertile. Its chief natural fortifications were the Ered Lithui (the ‘Ashy Mountains,’ upon which he built the Dark Tower of Barad-dûr) and the Ephel Dúath (‘Mountains of Shadow’). In the far north-western corner, these two mountain chains met to enclose the vale of Udûn (‘the Pit’). From its northern wall to its southern buttress, the Black Land measured about one hundred leagues; from west to east, it reached one hundred and fifty leagues. *

Learning to harness the fires of the mountain Orodruin, Sauron forged the Ruling Ring during the middle years of the Second Age; this granted him the strength and power he needed to send forth his hosts and ravage the lands of Middle-earth. But at the end of the Second Age, he was cast from his Throne, and his spirit sent into exile. For many years afterward, Mordor returned to a state of desolation. (Read more in the entry on Sauron)

In his absence, Gondor built fortresses (Durthang, the Towers of the Teeth, and the Tower of Citith Ungol) in the Third Age to prevent any evil things from leaving or entering the Black Land. But after the Great Plague of 1636, these fortresses were abandoned.

Meanwhile, Sauron had re-awoken and began to plot his return to Mordor. While he did not openly reclaim his land, he instead dwelled in secret in Dol Guldur, sending his chief servants (the Ringwraiths) to prepare Mordor for his return. For the next thousand years, Sauron grew in power, and after a nearly three-thousand year absence, finally returned to the Black Land.

During the War of the Ring, the One Ring was unmade in the fires of Orodruin, many of Sauron’s works were destroyed, and the land was ravaged by earthquakes. After the Downfall of Sauron, Mordor fell into final ruin: deserted once more, the land was never made habitable again.

* Other points of interest in Mordor include Lithlad, Núrn, the Sea of Nurnen, Cirith Gorgor, the Isenmouthe, the Morgul Pass, and the Morgai. 

24 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 268: the Ship-kings

Gondor’s greatest maritime expansion took place under the period of the Ship-kings, who ruled between the ninth and twelfth centuries of the Third Age (830-1149). Their Númenorean ancestors, who had been great mariners in their time, were not forgotten by those in the South-kingdom, and as Gondor became more prosperous, the Dúnedain began to focus on sea power.  


The first of the Ship-kings was the twelfth King, Tarannon, who constructed the first fleets and conquered the coastal lands to the south and west of the Mouths of Anduin. For his victories, he took the name Falastur (‘Lord of the Coasts’).

Eärnil I

Succeeding Falastur, Eärnil I improved on his uncle’s work; he restored the ancient Númenorean haven of Pelargir upon Anduin and captured the rival haven of Umbar two years after taking the Throne. Twenty-three years into his reign, he was lost at sea.


The son of Eärnil I, Ciryandil became the third Ship-king for a time, before falling in battle at Umbar while defending the Haven against an attack from the Haradrim.


The fourth and final Ship-king, Ciryandil’s son Ciryaher became the most powerful ruler in Gondor’s history. Seeking to avenge his father, he began to reorganise Gondor’s armies and finally declared war on the forces of Harad, which were still attacking Umbar (despite having slain Ciryandil, they had failed to capture the haven). The Haradrim were defeated so severely that it took several centuries for them to regain their strength. The victorious Ciryaher took the title Hyarmendacil (‘South-victor’), and for 134 years reigned over Gondor.

With Hyarmendacil’s death followed the line of the Ship-kings; his son Atanatar (II) Alcarin, vain and lazy, neglected all that the previous Ship-kings had achieved, thus ending the line.    

23 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 267: Adûnaic

Adûnaic (‘The-Speech-of-the-West’) was the language adopted by the Dúnedain of Númenor during their days in power. Based largely on Mannish speech, it was the ancestral speech of the House of Hador; during the First Age, it was influenced by the Elvish tongue, as a result of Númenor’s ties with the Moriquendi and the Eldar. However, the language did not survive the Downfall of Númenor. The Faithful, those who had survived the Downfall, spoke either Sindarin or the Common Speech (which had itself been partly derived from ancient Adûnaic).  

The names of all the Princes and Kings of Númenor (after Tar-Calmacil and excluding Tar-Palantír) were taken in Adûnaic, as was the name of Númenor’s Downfall itself, Akallabêth.  

22 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 266: Aelin-uial

Aelin-uial (S. ‘Meres of Twilight,’ ‘lake twilight’) was the name given to the region of marshes bordering Beleriand by the Elvenfolk of Doriath. It was here that the river Aros flowed into the Sirion, and where the waters of the latter briefly diverged before rejoining into the Falls of Sirion. After the rebellion of Morgoth, the Meres became part of the defensive circle of enchantment (the Girdle of Melian) woven around Doriath by Lady Melian.

21 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 265: Elendilmir

The Elendilmir (Q. ‘Elendil-jewel’), also known as the Star of Elendil, was a single white gem bound to the brow by a fillet of silver. It had descended to Elendil from Silmariën of Andúnië, and later passed to Isildur. At the time of the Disaster of the Gladden Fields, it was still in Isildur’s possession, and was ultimately lost with his body. A new Elendilmir was made in Rivendell for Isildur’s last remaining son, Valandil, who had become the King of Arnor. This new jewel, known as the Star of the Dúnedain, was later worn by Aragorn during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields.

20 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 264: Rúmil of Tirion

Rúmil was one of the Noldor and the first great Elven-poet; he is credited with the composition of the Ainulindalë. He also devised the earliest known system of writing, known as the Tengwar, though his system has become more closely associated with Fëanor, who re-ordered and re-arranged the system.

There is also a Silvan Elf by the name of Rúmil; he is the brother of Haldir and a border guard of Lórien.

19 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 263: Lords of Adúnië

The Lords of Adúnië were the chief counsellors of the Kings of Númenor; toward the end of the kingdom, they were leaders of the Faithful. Living in Númenor’s westernmost province (Adúnië), they kept the traditions of friendship with the Eldar, even when the later Kings and people of Númenor began to grow envious of the High-elves. They were persecuted for their loyalty, but in the end were the only people to survive the Downfall; led by Elendil, son of Amandil (the last Lord of Adúnië), they made it to the shores of Middle-earth bearing the heirlooms of their House (the ring of Barahir, the palantíri, and the Sceptre of Annúminas).

18 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 262: Aranrúth

Aranrúth (S. ‘Anger-of-the-King’) was the sword of King Thingol of Doriath. Probably of Dwarf-make, it was likely forged by the smiths of Nogrod at the beginning of the Wars of Beleriand. After Thingol’s death, it was passed on to his descendants, and thanks to Elwing, it survived the sack of Doriath. It later came into the possession of the Kings of Númenor, when Elros, the first King of Númenor, received it from his mother; ultimately, Aranrúth was lost forever during the Downfall of Númenor.  

17 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 261: Nimphelos

Nimphelos (S. ‘whitefrost’) was the great pearl given to the Dwarves of Belegost as part of their payment for the delving of Menegroth. The size of a dove’s egg, the pearl had originally been found off the Isle of Balar by the Falathrim, and it had been given to King Thingol by Círdan.

16 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 260: Belegost

Belegost (S. ‘Mighty fortress’) was the Elves’ name for the Dwarf-city of Gabilgathol, built early in the First Age and located east of the Blue Mountains. To Men, it was known as Mickleburg. From here and the other great city of Nogrod, the Dwarves ventured into Beleriand to trade and explore; thus, they were the first new speaking-peoples the Sindar encountered. King Thingol soon sought their counsel, and the Dwarves aided him in the building of Menegroth (the ‘Thousand Caves’), for which they were given the great pearl Nimphelos.

Azaghâl was the first recorded name of any King of Belegost; he brought his people to the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, where they fought in alliance with the Sons of Fëanor. While Azaghâl was killed in the fight, it was his people who defeated the dragon Glaurung.

The city of Belegost was ruined in the Great Battle at the end of the First Age; many of the Dwarves went to Khazad-dûm. In addition to Menegroth being one of their greatest works, the Dwarves of Belegost also invented chainmail.

15 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 259: Mablung

Mablung (S. ‘Heavy hand’) was a Sindarin Elf of Doriath and the chief captain of Thingol. Known as Mablung of the Heavy Hand, he participated in the Hunting of the Wolf (Carcharoth) and was granted permission to join the Union of Maedhros, which subsequently led him to participate in the Nirnaeth Arnoediad. The last living being to speak with Túrin Turambar, Mablung died defending the Nauglamír from the Dwarves during the sack of Menegroth after King Thingol had already been slain.

Interview with Tolkien Library's Pieter Collier

As a collector of all things Tolkien, I’m always excited at the prospect of meeting others who share my passion and having an opportunity to glimpse into their collections - especially when it comes to books.

I recently had the pleasure of interviewing Pieter Collier of TolkienLibrary, a longtime fan of J.R.R. Tolkien whose vast book collection became the inspiration behind creating a website aimed at offering guidance to other aspiring collectors.

14 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 258: Fuinur

Fuinur (S. ‘Dark-lord’) was one of the Black Númenoreans of the Second Age. With another lord, Herumor, he went to Middle-earth during the Accursed Years and fell under the dominion of Sauron. Afterwards, they went to Harad and became powerful men of the Haradhrim, spreading Sauron’s will to the Men of the South.

13 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 257: Dagor Aglareb

The third of five major battles in the Wars of Beleriand, the Dagor Aglareb (S. ‘Glorious Battle’) was the greatest victory ever achieved by the Eldar over the forces of Angband. Fought in the 60th Year of the Sun, the battle began as an assault on all fronts by Morgoth, who sought a surprise attack on the Noldor; hosts of Orcs and Trolls broke through the Pass of Sirion in the west and Maglor’s Gap in the east, with Angband’s main army striking the northern walls of Dorthonion. Here they were contained and taken on by the Elves, who broke their forces and utterly destroyed those attempting to retreat across Ard-galen.  Following this attack, which served as a warning, the Elves began the Siege of Angband.

12 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 256: Cabed-en-Aras

Cabed-en-Aras, also called the Deer’s Leap, was a narrow point in the ravines of the Teiglin River. Named because it was narrow enough for deer to jump from cliff to cliff across the River, it was here that Túrin Turambar slew the dragon Glaurung, and where his wife Níniel, after learning that she was actually his sister Niënor, threw herself into the River in grief and dismay. The chasm was later called Cabed Naeramarth, or the Leap of Dreadful Doom.

11 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 255: Khand

Khand was the realm located southeast of Mordor; as a result, it was likely always strongly influenced by Sauron. The Men of Khand, known as Variags, fought in Sauron’s army and even supplied Mordor with horses. Little else is known about the land or the peoples who inhabited it, though it is likely that they were similar in nature to Rohan, in that horses and riding played an important role in their culture.  

In TA 1944, the Variags joined the Wainriders in attacking Gondor, and during the War of the Ring they took part in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. They were eventually driven back by the Knights of Dol Amroth, and the land likely fell under the control of Gondor by the Fourth Age, thus quenching their hostilities.  

10 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 254: Helcaraxë

Helcaraxë (Q. ‘ice-fangs’) was the strait in the north of Arda, located between Araman and Middle-earth. It was here that the waters of Belegaer and Ekkaia came together with great force. Helcaraxë itself was filled with ice floes (known as the Grinding Ice) that could be crossed on foot, but the danger was great. Fingolfin and his people made their way across the treacherous wasteland of ice and into Middle-earth at the beginning of the First Age.  

09 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 253: Barazinbar

Barazinbar was the northernmost of the three peaks which rose above Moria. Due to the blood-red tinge of the peak, in Westron it was called Redhorn; the Elves called it Caradhras (S. ‘Red-peak’). On the far side of the mountain was the Dimrill Dale, also known as the Redhorn Gate. Additionally, the only mithril vein in the World was located beneath the mountain (which was also home to the Balrog).   

08 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 252: Aglarond

Aglarond (S. ‘Halls-of-Glory’) was the Sindarin name for the Glittering Caves in Helm’s Deep. It was first fortified by the Dúnedain to be used with Angrenost (Isengard) as a guard post for the Gap of Calenardhon, but later became part of Rohan after the Men of Éothéod took possession of the land.

Unlike the Men of Gondor, who revered this natural wonder, the Rohirrim paid little courtesy: the Glittering Caves (which they called Glæmscrafu, ‘Caves of Radiance’) were used as store-houses to supply the fortress of Helm’s Gate – the Hornburg, the Deeping Wall, and the Deeping Tower. The caves’ beauty went unseen by the other races until the Fourth Age, when a colony of Dwarves led by Gimli settled there.  

07 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 251: the War of the Dwarves and Orcs

This bitter, six-year conflict (TA 2793-99) was the first attempt of any of the Free Peoples to eliminate the Orcs of the Misty Mountains.

The hostilities between the two races began when King Thrór was murdered by Orcs of Moria. Previously, the Dwarves of Durin’s Line had been driven out of their homes in Erebor by the dragon Smaug, and their wrath had been building up when news broke out of the murder and later desecration of the king’s body. Thráin II mustered his people, and for the next six years, the Dwarves pursued the Orcs throughout Wilderland, slaughtering every one they found.

Near the end of the war, the Dwarves came to the valley of Azanulbizar (the Dimrill Dale) in Moria, where the greatest battle of the War was fought. Both sides suffered heavy losses, but reinforcements from the Iron Hills came just in time, and the Orcs who had slain Thrór had all been slain themselves; those Orcs who survived fled south in terror.

While the Dwarves were victorious, they too had suffered many great losses: Náin, Frerin, and Fundin had all been slain; Thráin had lost an eye; and Thorin had been wounded. But the Dwarves still celebrated their victory, and for over a hundred years, no Orc was seen in the Vales of Anduin.  

06 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 250: Narvi

The Doors of Durin
Narvi was a Dwarf of Khazad-dûm, probably of Durin’s Folk. One of the greatest craftsmen in the Second Age, it was he who built the Doors of Durin for the West-gate of Moria (his close friend Celebrimor wrote the inscription, which read: ‘Ennyn Durin Aran Moria. Pedo mellon a Minno. Im Narvi hain echant. Celebrimbor o Eregion tethant. I thiw hin.’ [‘The Doors of Durin, Lord of Moria. Speak friend and enter. I Narvi made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs’]).

05 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 249: Ingwë

Ingwë, King of the Vanyar, was chosen by Oromë to visit Valinor and persuade the Eldar to embark upon the Great Journey. He led the First Kindred to the Uttermost West, settling first in Tirion and later in the halls of Manwë and Varda upon Taniquentil. He was later named High King of the Elves, and they held him in such reverence that he never returned to Middle-earth, save only to lead the Host of the Vanyar to the Great Battle in which Morgoth was overthrown.

04 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 248: Imlad Morgul

Imlad Morgul (S. ‘Vale of Sorcery’; ‘Valley of black magic’) was one of the western valleys of the Mountains of Shadow. Twenty miles north of Osgiliath, the land and its tower of Minas Morgul (formerly Minas Ithil) had belonged to Gondor, but around 2002 TA fell under the control of the Nazgûl. The valley was watered by the Morgulduin (formerly the Ithilduin), whose poisonous waters were also home to loathsome white flowers which emitted noxious vapours. By the end of the Third Age, the Captains of the West had set fire to the vegetation of Imlad Morgul and destroyed the bridge across the Morgulduin, but the terror of the valley was too great even after the War of the Ring for the land to be resettled.

Other Names: the Morgul Vale, Morgulvale, the Valley of the Wraiths, and the valley of Living Death.

03 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 247: the Nandor

The Nandor (Q. ‘Those who turn back’) were a group of Teleri Elves, led by Lenwë, who gave up on the Great Journey, overwhelmed by the Misty Mountains and captivated by the woods and falling waters of Wilderland. A woodland people, the Nandor had a greater understanding of living things than any of the other Elves.

Initially, they wandered down along the Anduin, but later spread throughout the Vales of Anduin, the coasts to the west of Ethir Anduin, and Eriador. Some, who reached as far as the Golden Wood, became the ancestors of the Galadhrim.  

Some of the Nandor, a branch later known as the Laiquendi, settled in Ossiriand under the leadership of Lenwë’s son Denethor; there they were reunited with another group of the Teleri – the Sindar, and later  fought in the Wars of Beleriand. But as they were lightly armed, they suffered many casualties.

02 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 246: Ezellohar

Ezellohar was one of the untranslated names of the green mound which stood at the western gate of the city of Valimar (in Quenya it was called Corollairë [‘Evergreen-Mound of the Two Trees’] or Coron Oiolairë; it was also called the Green Mound). It was here that the Two Trees of the Valar grew, having been raised from the earth by Yavanna Kementári.  When the Two Trees were poisoned, the mound of Ezellohar was blackened.

01 March 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 245: Orthanc

Orthanc (S. ‘Forked height’; Rohirric: ‘the cunning mind’) was the tower of Isengard (previously Angrenost), sometimes referred to as the Pinnacle of Orthanc.

Built by Men of Gondor following the founding of the Realms in Exile in the Second Age, the tower stood about 500 feet above the plain of Isengard, and had been built from four pillars of unbreakable black rock. For years the impenetrable Tower was of great use to Gondor, but sometime in the late Third Age, the Dúnedain had withdrawn their forces, and the Tower remained locked as the Ring of Angrenost slowly fell into despair.

The Tower remained deserted until TA 2759, when Saruman settled there, lured by one of the palantíri which was located somewhere inside. After much searching, he found the palantír of Orthanc, and with it in his possession, he gained much strength and knowledge.

However, at the end of the War of the Ring, his Tower was destroyed by the Ents and he was expelled from the Tower, which was then passed on to the kingdom of Gondor, its rightful owner.

'Hobbit' Production Video #6

About an hour ago, Peter Jackson released via his official Facebook page Production Diary #6 for The Hobbit (the first video of 2012), which gives us twelve minutes of behind the scenes footage from the second half of filming.