30 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 304: Narsil

Narsil (Q. ‘Red-and-White-Flame’), one of the most renowned weapons in the history of Middle-earth, was the sword of Elendil. Wrought by the Dwarf-smith Telchar during the First Age, it passed to the Lords of Andúnië, and after the Drowning of Númenor was carried back to Middle-earth by Elendil the Tall.

In the hands of Elendil, Narsil was an irresistible weapon: during the War of the Last Alliance, it glittered alongside the Spear of Gil-Galad (Aiglos) on the battlefield, and it proved too much for the soldiers of Sauron to withstand during the Battle of Dagorlad. But in the final hand-to-hand combat with Sauron, Elendil fell, and the great sword Narsil broke beneath him. His son, Isildur, took the hilt-shard of Narsil and with it cut the Ruling Ring from the Dark Lord’s hand. The remains of the sword were then taken back to Annúminas by the Dúnedain of the North and became one of the chief heirlooms of the North-kingdom. 

By the end of the Third Age, the sword had been reforged for Aragorn II, the Heir of Isildur, and renamed Andúril (‘Flame of the West’).

Peter Jackson Defends 48fps ‘Hobbit’ Footage

Last week, Peter Jackson revealed ten minutes of unfinished footage from The Hobbit, shot at 48 frames per second, to folks at CinemaCon.

And the response was less than glowing. One critic described the footage as “jarring,” while others felt it looked “uncinematic” – more like a made-for-TV movie.

But while the audience seemed surprised by the footage, the director himself was not.

“It wasn't particularly surprising because it is something new," he told the Hollywood Reporter. “Ultimately, it is different in a positive way, especially for 3D, especially for epic films.”

Despite the criticism he has received, Jackson has defended the footage.

“Nobody is going to stop,” he told EW. “This technology is going to keep evolving. At first it’s unusual because you’ve never seen a movie like this before.… It’s literally a new experience, but you know, that doesn’t last the entire experience of the film; not by any stretch, after 10 minutes or so. That’s a different experience than if you see a fast-cutting montage at a technical presentation.… There can only ever be a real reaction, a truthful reaction, when people actually have a chance to see a complete narrative on a particular film.… You settle into it.”

Undeterred by the critics, he plans to continue filming The Hobbit films at 48fps.

“Advocating that we have to stick with what we know, I think is a slightly narrow-minded way of looking at things when as an industry we are facing declining audiences.”

"We have to find ways to make it more vibrant, more immersive - something that will encourage people to come back to the theatres for that experience.”

Fortunately, for those still deterred by the prospect of 48fps, Jackson has no plans to shoot the trailer in that style.

“The 48 frames is something you should experience with the entire film. A two-and-a-half minute trailer isn't enough time to adjust to the immersive quality.”

Mysterious Mist Draws Firefighters to Jackson’s Mansion

Firefighters were called to Sir Peter Jackson’s three-storey Wairarapa mansion after a fire alarm went off around 6 P.M. yesterday.  

According to Masterton fire station officer Garry Nielsen, responders found no sign of smoke or fire, but instead discovered an unknown mist that had been contained to one room.

"We ventilated it and it didn't come back, so we checked everything out. It didn't appear to be a problem, so whatever caused it, it stopped happening,'' he told APNZ, also stating that he was not concerned that they were unable to identify the mist.

 "We don't know what it was and that doesn't particularly concern us, because we occasionally get something that's unknown - electrical smells or something like that. That just seems to be just a blip.

 "We've got thermal imaging cameras, we've got different things, so we just make sure there isn't a risk of fire, and that's our job done.''

The 37ha property was purchased by Sir Peter Jackson and partner Fran Walsh in 1998. In addition to featuring a lake, railway, and castle, the house has since been transformed into a two-towered mansion, complete with an indoor pool and 100-seat cinema.

The couple were not home at the time.

29 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 303: Malbeth the Seer

Malbeth was a Dúnadan of Arthedain, seer and royal counsellor to the king during the reigns of Araphant and Arvedui. Generally called Malbeth the Seer as a result of the extreme amount of foresight he possessed, his foretellings were recorded in the annals of the North-kingdom, two of which (concerning the destiny of the Dúnedain) were recounted in the Red Book.

The first prophesy dealt with the fate of King Arvedui: Malbeth foresaw that Arvedui would either be the last king of Arthedain and the first king of the Reunited Kingdom of Gondor and Arnor; or he would perish, taking the Kingship in the North with him. In the end, the latter vision was true; Arvedui claimed the vacant Throne of Gondor after the death of King Ondoher (TA 1944), but these claims were refused and the throne instead given to the victorious general Eärnil. The Kingdom in the North failed, as Malbeth had foreseen.

The second prophesy remained somewhat mysterious for a thousand years after Malbeth’s death. It mentioned the awakening of dead Oathbreakers, a horn ringing in the haunted hills, and an appointed hour at the Stone of Erech. In TA 3019, after receiving word from Elrond in Rivendell to remember the words of the visionary, Aragorn discovered that the only way to reach Minas Tirith in time to lend aid was to take the Paths of the Dead. With the Grey Company, he passed through the Stone of Erech, summoned the Dead Men of Dunharrow, and defeated the Corsairs threatening Gondor, thus fulfilling the prophesy.

28 April 2012

Middle-earth Network Meet-and-Greet in LOTRO

This past Thursday (April 26), the founders of the Middle-earth Network hosted an in-game meet and greet for any members on the Landroval server to attend. We all met up at the Bird and Baby Inn in Michel Delving to accompany Arwen to the Gates of Imladris.

(Click the images to enlarge)

Outside the Bird and Baby Inn

We had just reached the Brandywine Bridge in Bree when we had to stop and wait for those who had fallen behind. While we waited, several of us discussed the name and history of the bridge.

As you can see, we had a pretty good turnout, despite the last-minute advertising the day of the event. (And for whatever reason, I apparently didn't think it necessary to include screencaps from the Lone-lands.)

We decided to take a detour to the spot of Bilbo's trolls, where we all gathered for a few screenshots before continuing on our merry way.

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 302: Indis the Fair

Indis the Fair was a Vanyarin maiden, said to have been akin to Ingwë the High King of all the Elves. After Finwë’s first wife, Miriel Serindë, died of exhaustion after bearing the king’s first son Fëanor, Indis became his second wife, much to the mistrust of many. Indis bore Finwë two sons, Fingolfin and Finarfin, the latter of whom possessed golden hair like his mother; his House was later renowned for this trait.

27 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 301: Barahir

Barahir (S. ‘Tower-lord’), son of Bregor, was the father of Beren and chieftain of the First House of the Edain (FA 455-60). As a child, his people moved from their home in Estolad and relocated to Ladros (Dorthonion); but Morgoth soon waged war upon the Eldar and the Edain. Dorthonion was overrun in the Battle of Sudden Flame, and it was during this battle that Barahir saved the life of the Elven-king Finrod. In return, Finrod gave him his ring and pledged his friendship to Barahir’s House and kin.

But Morgoth continued to pursue Barahir, who had set up a camp by the Tarn Aeluin with twelve other companions. Their location was eventually disclosed to Sauron by Gorlim, who so longed to see his wife again that he allowed himself to submit to the enemy’s lies. Of the twelve outlaws, only Beren escaped the slaughter; he later crept into the enemy’s camp and reclaimed the hand and ring of Barahir, which had been taken as a trophy.

26 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 300: the Battle of Tumhalad

The Battle of Tumhalad, fought on the plain of Tumhalad between the Narog and its tributary Ginglith, was the last battle of the Elves of Nargothrond.

In the autumn of FA 496, the dragon Glaurung led a great army of Orcs through the Pass of Sirion, defiling Eithel Ivrin and ravaging the northern stretches of Talath Dirnen. Against the warnings of the Vala Ulmo not to openly attack the forces of Morgoth, Túrin Turambar persuaded king Orodreth to march out and fight the enemy.

Greatly outnumbered and not used to open war (previously, the Elves had relied on guerilla tactics against the enemy), the Elves found that their enemies were even larger than anticipated. As a result, the Elves were driven back and trapped in Tumhalad, Orodreth and Gwindor were slain, and Túrin (who had been wearing the Dragon-helm, thus allowing him to withstand the fires of Glaurung) was one of the few survivors. With the Elves defeated, Glaurung and the Orcs were able to sack the city of Nargothrond.  

25 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 299: Nevrast

Nevrast (S. ‘Hither Shores’) was the name given to the coastline of north-western Middle-earth by the Grey Elves of Beleriand; the coast of Aman was termed Haerast (‘Further Shores’). In later days, Nevrast came to refer specifically to the seaward lands south of the Firth of Drengist. A land surrounded by mountains, this region was the first dwelling of Turgon of the Noldor, and after the Second Battle of Beleriand, he made a home for himself and his kin in the halls of Vinyamar on the slopes of Mount Taras. But when Turgon relocated to Gondolin, Nevrast was deserted (until Tuor was later guided there by Ulmo).

Register Now for One of Mythgard’s Summer Courses!

Three new exciting courses will be offered at the Mythgard Institute this summer:

Modern Fantasy – In this course, Mythgard’s president, Dr. Corey Olsen, will lead an examination of the work of some top fantasy writers (among them Peter Beagle, Ursula Le Guin, Neil Gaiman, and George RR Martin) with the course’s primary focus being on comparing each authors’ approach to fantasy, myth, and magic.

The Arthur Story: History, Mystery, Myth – This course, taught by Dr. Verlyn Flieger, will track the history of the legendary but mysterious king from the later 5th/early 6th century through 1500 years. Throughout the course, students will find many different – and often conflicting – versions of the story, which throughout its history has moved from folklore to romance to tragedy.

Elementary Latin I – Offered through Signum University and taught by Dr. Philip Walsh, Elementary Latin I is designed to offer students the basic elements of the language, placing an emphasis on grammar, vocabulary, and reading comprehension.   

Registration is ongoing now, but don’t wait! The deadline is Monday, May 14. And these are three courses you don’t want to miss out on.

Not sure whether to take the course for MA credit or just for fun? Visit Mythgard’s Embark page to learn more about both options.

24 April 2012

DTG's Tolkien Seminar 2012

Tolkien Seminar 2012 poster by Anke Eissmann

Tolkien Seminar 2012

This weekend (April 27-29), the Friedrich-Schiller-University Jena will be hosting the 9th Seminar of the Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft (DTG), with this year’s topic being Tolkien’s Influence on Fantasy. Started in 2004, the seminar has been held at various universities throughout the country with topics changing annually but each one placing an emphasis on the life of J.R.R. Tolkien as well as the influence his works have had on the development of fantasy. Contributions are in English as well as German and are usually published in Hither Shore, the society’s academic yearbook (which has received the German Fantasy Award twice in the category of secondary literature). Entry to the conference is free.

Contributions include:

• Guglielmo Spirito & Emanuele Rimoli: The Inner Consistency of Reality: J.R.R. Tolkien, Flannery O’Connor, Michael D. O’Brien and Jonathan Franzen
 • Anna Thayer: An Old Light Rekindled: Tolkien’s Influence on Fantasy
 • Olaf Keith: The Return of the Kings. Tolkien and the Fantasy Fiction of Tad Williams
 • Natalia Gonzalez de la Llana: LotR and Memorias de Idhun

For a full programme of events: www.seminar2012.kolbitar.de

About the DTG

The Deutsche Tolkien Gesellschaft e.V. is a non-profit organization which has amassed over 500 members since its establishment in 1997-98. The DTG organises regional Tolkien Days, the nationwide Tolkien Thing, an annual Tolkien Conference, and lectures, readings, and exhibitions all centering on the life and works of J.R.R. Tolkien.  

For more information on the DTG: www.tolkiengesellschaft.de

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 298: Androth

Androth (S. ‘Long-caves’ or ‘Long delving’) was a system of complex caves located within the Mountains of Mithrim. Following the Nirnaeth Arnoediad, some of the surviving Sindar and Edain – led by Annael – lived there in hiding. Tuor was fostered by the Elves of Androth after the death of his father until he was sixteen; when Annael left the caves seeking to relocate the Havens of Sirion, the group was attacked by the Easterlings, and Tuor taken as a slave. He managed to escape and return to Androth, where he lived alone for four years before leaving for Dor-lómin.

23 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 297: Annúminas

Annúminas as depicted in Turbine's Lord of the Rings Online

Annúminas (S. ‘Tower-of-the-Sunset’), located on the banks of Lake Evendim, was the first and only capital of Arnor, built by Elendil after the fall of Númenor. It fell to ruin between TA 250 and 861 after the Heirs of Elendil relocated to Fornost Erain and Arnor fell into decline; but at the beginning of the Fourth Age, it was rebuilt by King Elessar and became the northern capital of the Reunited Kingdom.

22 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 296: Parth Celebrant

Parth Celebrant (S. ‘Field of Silverlode’) was the area of grassland in Lórien between the rivers Limlight and Celebrant (Silverlode). It had been claimed as part of the Elven-land, but in later years the southern part of Parth Celebrant was incorporated by soldiers of Gondor into their defence system and called the Field of Celebrant.

21 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 295: Nahar

Nahar was the white Horse of the Huntsman Oromë, whom the Valar rode through the great forests of Middle-earth before the awakening of the Elves. Brilliantly white, like new snow in daylight, Nahar may have been the ancestor of the Mearas and the horses of the Noldor. His neighing alerted Oromë to the presence of the Quendi when they came upon them for the first time; the sparks emitted from his hooves were the first light in Valinor following the darkening of the trees.  

20 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 294: Mounds of Mundburg

The burial grounds of those who fell in the Battle of the Pelennor Fields, the Mounds of Mundburg were located on the site of the battle, near the river Anduin and not far from Minas Tirith. All warriors slain in this battle – Rohirrim and Dúnedain – were buried here, save King Théoden. The stories of each of the fallen were celebrated in a lay – the Song of the Mounds of Mundburg.

19 April 2012

Battle of Helm’s Deep Named “Best Rain Scene in Movie History”

The Battle of Helm’s Deep in Peter Jackson’s The Lord of the Rings: the Two Towers has been named the “best rain scene in movie history,” according to a recent poll by the UK DVD rental firm LOVEFiLM.

"With rainy April upon us once again, we thought it only fitting to look at how directors have used rain in our favourite films,” said Helen Cowley, editor of LOVEFiLM.

Over 2,000 people voted on the poll with 26% of the votes going to the Battle of Helm’s Deep.

Coming in at second place was the ending of Blade Runner (which received 18% of the votes), followed by The Shawshank Redemption’s climax in third(15%), Gene Kelly’s dance number in Singin’ in the Rain in fourth (14%), and the fight scene in Matrix Revolutions coming in at number five (8%).

Other notable entries included the Vietnam scene from Forrest Gump, the rowing boat scene from The Notebook, the final scene in Breakfast at Tiffany’s, the upside-down kiss scene from Spider-Man, and the kiss scene in Four Weddings and a Funeral.

Cowley added that, “Whether it's a trickle or a storm; providing a backdrop to an epic battle or a brief romantic encounter, rain scenes add something to our films that is far more enjoyable than getting caught without an umbrella in real life.”

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 293: the Falathrim

The Falathrim (S. ‘Coast people’; also called the Elves of the Falas and the Elves of the Havens) were the Sindarin Elves living in the Falas of Beleriand during the First Age. They had originated as Teleri, persuaded by Ossë to stay in Middle-earth while their kin embarked on the Great Journey to Valinor; throughout the Wars of Beleriand, their numbers were swelled by Sindar and Noldor.

The first mariners and shipwrights of Middle-earth, their lord was Círdan, under whose leadership they prospered for many years. They built all of the ships sailed by Men or Elves of Beleriand in the First Age, and sent a force to fight with the Union of Maedhros.

During the first and second battles of the Wars of Beleriand, however, Falas was invaded by Orcs of Morgoth, and the Falathrim were forced to withdraw to their walled Havens of the Falas. In 474, Falas was overrun, and the surviving Falathrim relocated to the Isle of Balar and continued building ships to aid the Men and Elves of Arvernien.  

18 April 2012

‘The Hobbit’ to Attract More Tourists than World Cup

Following the success of the Lord of the Rings film trilogy, New Zealand became a hot spot for tourists. With the upcoming Hobbit films, New Zealand will likely see even more of an increase in tourism.  

George Hickton, a renowned expert on the tourism industry in New Zealand, recently acknowledged the highly-anticipated two part Hobbit film as being an amazing opportunity for attracting tourism – noting that the films will draw more people to visit New Zealand than the Rugby World Cup ever could, and that they will also generate more money and overseas earnings than the All Blacks winning the World Cup.

"One of the things we have to do is get to understand the psyche of people who want to come and see it," he said at a meeting of tourism figures in Hamilton last week. "This is bigger than [the Lord of the Rings]. You need to be actively aware of what it looks like, what the story is."

He also urged New Zealand businesses to "talk about Hobbits, put on hairy feet. Do whatever you can to make sure that when people come to this place that you absolutely embrace it, that you 'get it.""

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 292: Ulmo

Ulmo (Q. ‘Pourer,’ ‘Rainer’) is the second greatest of the Lords of the Valar, and also one of the Aratar. In his following are the Maiar Ossë, Uinen, and Salmar. A chief architect of Arda, he is in close friendship with Manwë.  A lover of water, he dwells in the Outer Ocean and governs the movement of all waters. In this way, he knows more about the goings-on with the Children of Ilúvatar than even Manwë. He rarely comes on land (and only attends the councils of the Valar when the need is great), and therefore does not assume a fana. It is said that his form would fill Man or Elf with great dread.

17 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 291: Ilúvatar

Ilúvatar (Q. ‘All-father’), also known as Eru (the One), was the all-powerful God of Arda.

With the Flame Imperishable, he created the Ainur and revealed to each of them a part of his mind. Revealing to them the three great themes of the Ainulindalë, the Ainur began to sing for him.  (For more on the Creation, see: Ainulindalë.)

He then made Eä – the World and All That Is. The Ainur were given the option to go into Eä and fashion it to their liking; these Ainur, known as the Valar, controlled the shaping of Arda. They independently worked to fulfill the Music, but some things were known only to Ilúvatar – such as the creation of Men and Elves (the Children of Ilúvatar), the destiny of Men, and the End. Ilúvatar himself rarely intervened: he sanctified the creation of the Dwarves by Aulë, and later changed Arda at the Valar’s request after the Númenoreans landed on Aman. In The Letters of J.R.R. Tolkien, the author himself has stated that when Gandalf fell in battle with the Balrog, it was beyond the power of the Valar to resurrect him.

16 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 290: Gandalf

Gandalf was one of the chief Istari (Wizards) of Middle-earth, and the second most powerful of the Order. A Maia, Gandalf and the other members of the Istari appeared in the forms of aged Men: Gandalf was grey-haired and cloaked in grey.

Though many of the folk he encountered viewed him as a vagabond or nothing more than a pesky old man, Gandalf (and the other Istari) had been sent from Valinor to contest the power of Sauron and unite those who would resist him. But as powerful as the Maiar were, they were forbidden to reveal their true natures or use their full strength in direct combat with the Enemy. And though they were Immortal, they could be slain or seduced away from their task (see: Saruman).

When he arrived in Middle-earth around TA 1000, he was given Narya, one of the Three Rings, by Círdan. In 2063, he went to Dol Guldur as a spy, but could not identify its lord. In 2850 he entered Dol Guldur a second time, and identified Sauron as its lord. In 2941, Gandalf persuaded Thorin Oakenshield to recover Erebor from the dragon Smaug, and it was at his urging that the company of Dwarves enlisted the help of Bilbo Baggins.

Gandalf began to grow suspicious after Bilbo found a golden ring in Gollum’s cave; and though he searched endlessly for the creature – with the help of Aragorn – it was another seventeen years before Gandalf learned the truth about the ring: that it was the One Ring of Power, now in the possession of Bilbo’s heir, Frodo Baggins.

At Gandalf’s urging, Frodo left the Shire and took the One Ring to Rivendell. At the Council of Elrond, Gandalf played an important role, as he alone knew the history of the Ring and of Saruman’s treachery; he became one of the Companions of the Ring.

And though he fell in Khazad-dûm defending the Fellowship from the Balrog, he was sent back as Gandalf the White so that he may complete his task. Releasing King Théoden of Rohan from the spells of Gríma Wormtongue, he cast Saruman out of the Order and was able to provide both Rohan and Gondor with invaluable counsel.

Following the War of the Ring, Gandalf – his task now having been completed – went over Sea with the Last Riding of the Keepers of the Ring.

Other names and titles

He was also known as: Gandalf (‘Elf of the Staff’) to Men, Mithrandir (‘Grey wanderer’) to the Elves and Dúnedain, Tharkûn (‘Grey-wanderer’) to the Dwarves, Olórin (‘in the West that is forgotten’) in his youth, Incánus by the Haradrim, Gandalf Greyhame by the Rohirrim, Láthspell by Gríma Wormtongue, The Grey Fool by Denethor II, Stormcrow, The White Rider, The Enemy of Sauron, and The Grey Pilgrim.

15 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 289: Umbar

Umbar (Q. ‘Fate’) was a coastal area in Harad located seventy leagues south of the river Harnen. It consisted of a cape, firth, havens, and a fortress. First settled by Númenoreans returning to Middle-earth in the later Second Age, it became their chief haven outside their own land, and it was here that Ar-Pharazôn contested the power of Sauron in SA 3261.

After the kingdom fell into moral decline, Umbar became a fortress of the King’s Men (later called the Black Númenoreans). It proved a mighty fortress nonetheless, rapidly becoming a centre of Númenor’s sea power.

Following the Downfall of Númenor, the Faithful who had survived went on to construct their own realms of Arnor and Gondor to the North of Umbar – and so rivalry grew between the Faithful and the Dúnedain of Umbar. During the Third Age, Gondor and the Corsairs of Umbar were frequently at war with one another, and the southern realm changed hands numerous times.

During the War of the Ring, a large corsair fleet attacked Pelargir, but was defeated by Aragorn and the army of the Dead; by the Fouth Age, Umbar was once again under Gondor’s control.

14 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 288: Vairë

Vairë (Q. ‘The Weaver’; S. Gwîr) was one of the Valier and the wife of Mandos. Together they dwell in the Halls of Mandos. Lesser in power and prestige than some of the other Valier, Vairë was responsible for weaving great tapestries which record all things that have come to pass in Arda. Many of her tapestries adorn the Halls of Waiting.

13 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 287: the Valier

The Valier (Q. ‘Queens of the Valar’; singular Valië) were the seven most royal of the female Valar which corresponded to the seven Lords.

The seven Queens, in order of greatness, are:

Varda (Elbereth Gilthoniel ) – Queen of the Stars and the wife of Manwë

Yavanna Kementári – Wife of Aulë and the Giver of Fruits

Nienna – Lady of Mercy, sister of Mandos and Lórien

Estë the Healer – Wife of Irmo

Vairë the Weaver – Wife of Mandos

Vána – The Ever-young, younger sister of Yavanna and wife of Oromë

Nessa – The Dancer and wife of Tulkas

* Varda, Yavanna, and Nienna are accounted Aratar, members of the innermost Council of Powers (there are eight total)

12 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 286: the Curse of Mandos

Following the rebellion of Fëanor and the Kinslaying at Alqualondë, a great prophecy was spoken by the Vala Mandos, foretelling a dark future for the Noldor, filled with treachery and death, and the promise that they would fade to emptiness beside the Younger Children (the Men who were slowly beginning to awaken). The Curse was laid most strongly on those who had sworn the Oath of Fëanor, and it was by this doom that the Sons of Fëanor became deceitful and treacherous.  Fëanor’s half-brother, Finarfin, was so moved by the prophecy that he and many of his followers repented and sought the forgiveness of the Valar: they were forgiven and allowed re-entry into Valinor.

Also called the Prophecy of the North, the Doom of Mandos, and the Doom of the Noldor.

11 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 285: the Valar

The Valar (Q. ‘Angelic Powers’; singular Vala) were those of the Ainur (Divinities created by Eru, The One, before the Creation) who participated in the making of Eä (the Universe) and Arda (the World) through the music of Ilúvatar.

There were seven Lords – Manwë, Ulmo, Aulë, Oromë, Mandos, Lórien, and Tulkas – and seven Queens of the Valar – Varda, Yavanna, Nienna, Estë, Vairë, Vána, and Nessa.

While each of them added their own part into the music, Melkor had a different vision of what Arda should be like, and numerous times he was cast out for marring the music. His rebellion led to many of Arda’s troubles.

After the completion of the music and the creation of the World, the Valar departed from Eä and dwelled in Middle-earth as Guardians of the World. While they have no fixed shape, they are able to take the shapes of Men and Elves, or remain invisible as they wish.  

False Fire Alarm Offers Glimpse of Hobbit Set

Source: stuff.co.nz

While Sir Peter Jackson’s workers were enjoying a well-earned break for the Easter holiday, it seemed like the dragon Smaug may have been up to his old tricks.

Firefighters responded to an alarm on Saturday, and with the gates to the Miramar Hobbit set open, fans seized the opportunity to catch a glimpse of Middle-earth.

While security managed to block a Dominion Post photographer from taking pictures within the gates, two photos of the set have already surfaced online.

The photos depict an old house situated in front of a green screen.

While the Fire Service has signed a confidentiality agreement with Weta Workshop and Stone St Studios, Jackson’s spokesman, Matthew Dravitzki, said he believed the alarm to be a false one.

Sir Peter Jackson’s workers were scheduled to resume working yesterday.

10 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 284: Borondir

Borondir the Stirrupless was a heroic horseman of Gondor who rode through many great perils to reach the Éothéod and deliver Steward Cirion’s plea for aid against the Balchoth. The call for aid came in time, and the Balchoth were defeated. Riding back with the Northmen despite his fatigue, Borondir was slain on the Field of Celebrant defending the Steward; his body was entombed in the Hallows of Minas Tirith and his deeds later put into song: the Rochon Methestal (the ‘Rider of the Last Hope’).

09 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 283: Celegorm

Celegorm was the third son of Fëanor. He was the most woodcrafty of the High-elves, and sometimes called the Huntsman of the Noldor. He was also the master of the Hound of Valinor, Huan. Like the rest of his brothers, with whom he swore the Oath of Fëanor, he was overly proud and tended to act more by force than by deceit.

Upon his return to Middle-earth, he played a major role in the victory of the Dagor-nuin-Giliath, and with his brother Curufin took up his abode in Himlad, where they remained until their realm was overthrown in the Dagor Bragollach.

The two fled to Nargothrond, where they opposed Finrod, who desired to aid Beren in the Quest of the Silmaril, and vowed anew the Oath of Fëanor. Not long after, Celegorm met and fell in love with Lúthien and forced her to come with him to Nargothrond so he could marry her. Huan forsook his master to aid Beren and Lúthien, foiling the brothers’ evil attempts to abduct Lúthien on two occasions; and though he returned briefly to his master’s side, he ultimately rejoined Beren and later died at his side.

Soon after, Celegorm, Curufin, and Caranthir fell into the greatest evil: learning that a Silmaril had made it to Menegroth, they determined to seize it for themselves in order to fulfill their Oath. In the battle that ensued, Celegorm was slain by Dior, Thingol’s heir.

08 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 282: Caranthir

Caranthir (S. ‘Red–‘) was the fourth son of Fëanor. Of the Sons of Fëanor, he was most quick to anger. In Middle-earth, he settled in Thargelion and grew rich from trade with the Dwarves of Ered Luin. When Thargelion was overrun by Orcs during the Dagor Bragollach, Caranthir fled south to join Amrod and Amras.

He later recruited the services of the treacherous sons of Ulfang and fought with them during the Nirnaeth Arnoediad–but unbeknownst to him at the time, the sons of Ulfang were secretly in alliance with Morgoth. At the height of battle, they betrayed Caranthir and brought ruin upon the whole Eldarin army. Wounded, Caranthir returned with his brothers Celegorm and Curufin to Beleriand, still seeking ways to fulfill their Oath. The more they wandered, the more evil their thoughts and actions became. 

When they heard that a Silmaril had been recovered from Morgoth’s Iron Crown, they hid in Menegroth. They attacked Dior, the new ruler of Menegroth, but the Silmaril had already been passed to Dior’s daughter, Elwing; and while the three brothers killed the Heir of Thingol and destroyed Doriath, they were themselves slain.  

07 April 2012

Coming Soon – New Tolkien Bio Comic

Photo: tflaw.com
Bluewater Productions has announced the publication of a new biography on J.R.R. Tolkien – in the form of a comic book. Scheduled for publication on May 30, this comic book will only be available through comic book stores.

Darren G. Davis, president at Bluewater, explains the reasoning behind this: “Like Gondor in Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the comic book shop is slowly dying like many brick and mortar retailers. I love my comic book shop and by making this special issue exclusive to those retailers, it will hopefully get fans back in the store.”

He also warns that those interested should pre-order the book to ensure they get a copy.

“We are not doing a huge overprinting on this book. Most of these genre comic book biographies sell out quick like “The Cast of of Doctor Who” and “Stephen King.””

The comic, which will cost a mere $3.99, will delve into the background of J.R.R. Tolkien and show how his classic books – The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, and The Silmarillion – came into being. The authors of the comic, Michael Lent and Brian McCarthy, researched Tolkien’s life in the same detail they did on their earlier projects: Orbit: Stephen King and Orbit: Keith Richards.

”We’re definitely fans,” said artist Luis Chichón. “But we wanted to make sure readers get full measure of the man. That beyond his work in fantasy he was a fragile World War I veteran, well-respected philologist and university professor…all of which played a part in his creation of Middle Earth.”

If you’re interested, contact your local comic book store to pre-order!

365 Days of Middle-earth: Day 281: Curufin

The fifth son of Fëanor and the father of Celebrimor, Curufin took the Oath of Fëanor with the rest of his brothers. Of all the Sons of Fëanor, Curufin was closest to his father in temperament and abilities; after his father, Curufin was the greatest craftsman of the Noldor. However, he was also cunning and treacherous, and his deeds were the most evil. In Middle-earth, he remained in league with his brother Celegorm, with whom he had much in common. Together they fought and schemed until at last, Curufin and his brothers Celegorm and Caranthir were slain by Dior

He bore the knife Angrist until Beren took it from him.

05 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 280: the Avari

The Avari (Q. ‘Unwilling’) were those Elves who refused the summons of the Valar – either in fear or plain refusal to leave their lands – and did not undertake the Great Journey to Valinor; instead they remained in Middle-earth. Some of the Avari later merged with the Nandor and Sindar Elves and became known as Silvan Elves. The only one mentioned in any records was Eöl the Smith. 

04 April 2012

NZ’s Soaring Screen Industry

According to a Statistics New Zealand survey, which covered a span of twelve months, thirty-five feature films were made in the country in 2011.

Regional data in the survey defined Wellington as the country’s main base for film, with a vast majority of revenue for its screen industry business being in feature film work (which was worth more than $500 million in 2011).

Figures show how focused the film business is on activity surrounding Sir Peter Jackson’s interests, including Weta Workshop and his post-production house. Additionally, the period covered within the survey would have included preliminary work on his highly-anticipated Hobbit films.

Says Graeme Mason, chief executive of the New Zealand Film Commission, “These figures highlight the determination of those making local films and working on international productions to make great movies.” He adds that, “it also emphasises the importance of the sector's contribution to the New Zealand economy.”

While the survey shows fewer businesses taking part in the industry, about 180 of them earned over $1 million a year, which is eighteen more than in 2010.  

Total broadcasting industry revenue, which includes free-to-air and pay TV subscriptions, was up 7% (to $1.26 billion), representing 40% of the gross revenue for the whole screen industry.

Cinema exhibition revenue was up 6% to $163 million, due largely in part to higher charges on tickets to 3D movies.

The survey also revealed advertising to be up 4% (to $2.99 billion).

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 279: Almaren

The first earthly dwelling of the Valar, Almaren was located on a green isle in the midst of a lake where the light of the great lamps of Illuin and Ormal met and blended with one another. In the early conflicts between the Valar and Melkor, Almaren was destroyed; the Valar then left Middle-earth and made their dwelling in Aman.

Sir Ian McKellen to Raise Money for Christchurch Theatre

Sir Ian McKellen is raising funds to help repair Christchurch’s Isaac Theatre Royal, which was damaged in the Christchurch earthquakes and has since remained closed due to structural issues.  All proceeds from McKellen’s performances will be donated to cover the building’s $500,000 policy excess and $5.5 million repair costs.

“The last time I was on stage in New Zealand was at the Isaac Theatre Royal in Waiting for Godot,” he said. “I love this beautiful old theatre and want to help restore it as soon as possible.”

According to McKellen, several props from his 2010 performance at the Isaac survived the earthquake.

"They've been preserved and they've survived the earthquake and that's very touching, and I suppose symbolic of something."

Already in New Zealand filming Sir Peter Jackson’s The Hobbit, McKellen will perform fourteen one-man shows across the country on weekends during the months of May and June.  

On June 2, he will perform in Christchurch’s Aurora Centre; in the show’s first half, he will discuss how he became involved with the Lord of the Rings and Hobbit films and hold a question-and-answer session with the audience. In the second half, he will discuss the other plays and films he has involved himself with. As the show winds down, members of the audience will be invited to “play” dead French soldiers as McKellen delivers his final speech.

Each of his performances (chat, reminiscence, gossip, and performances) will be conceived in part by his audience.

“It's only me. No performing dogs, no hobbits. Just Ian McKellen. But the byline is with Tolkien, Shakespeare and you, you being the audience."

Tickets for Ian McKellen on Stage are $50 adults and $25 students/children (plus service fees) and will go on sale to the public beginning Friday, April 13. Additionally, signed posters and photos will be on sale.

For a listing of show dates, visit: Scoop.co.nz

For more on the Isaac Royal Theatre, visit their website

03 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 278: Angrist

A dagger of Dwarf-make, Angrist (S. ‘Iron-cleaver’) was forged by Telchar (who also forged Narsil) during the First Age. It soon made its way into the possession of Curufin the Crafty, one of the Sons of Fëanor. After Curufin waged war upon his ally, Beren of the Edain, he was defeated and the knife taken from him; with the aid of Angrist, Beren was able to cut a Silmaril from Morgoth’s Iron Crown.

02 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 277: Morgul-knife

Piercing the heart of the victim, the Morgul-knife was usually wielded by the Lord of the Nazgûl. The blade would not only take the life of the victim, but it would also turn him into a wraith similar to the wielder of the deadly weapon (but of lesser stature and power).  If the blade missed the heart, a fragment of the knife would remain inside the victim and slowly work its way inwards. When exposed to sunlight, the bewitched blade would wilt and turn to smoke; therefore, it could only be used at night. The Lord of the Nazgûl used this enchanted blade to stab Frodo atop Weathertop; though Elrond was able to extract the blade fragment, Frodo’s wound never fully healed.

01 April 2012

365 Days of Middle-earth ~ Day 276: Mirkwood

Mirkwood (from the Grey-Elven Taur e-Ndaedelos, ‘Forest of Great Fear’) was the name given to the mightiest surviving forest of western Middle-earth, formerly known as Greenwood the Great. The forest had been renamed after the raising of the evil tower of Dol Guldur.  With the growing power of Sauron at Dol Guldur, the forest became inhabited with Orcs, black squirrels, and great spiders. When Thorin Oakenshield and Company passed through Mirkwood in TA 2941, they encountered the great spiders and other strange insects, an enchanted stream, and a feeling of darkness and oppression.

Following the War of the Ring, Mirkwood was cleansed and renamed Eryn Lasgalen (S. ‘Wood of Green Leaves’).