25 October 2014

Today in Middle-earth: October 25

The Council of Elrond in Ralph Bakshi's The Lord of the Rings
On this day in the year 3018 of the Third Age, the Council of Elrond is held, where the history of the Ring is recounted and the Fellowship of the Ring is formed.

24 October 2014

Today in Middle-earth: October 24

Rivendell by JRR Tolkien
On this day in the year 3018 of the Third Age, Frodo awakes in Rivendell and is reunited with Gandalf and his companions. The wizard recounts his own delays to the anxious hobbit.

09 October 2014

Today in Middle-earth: October 9-20

Flight to the Ford by John Howe
On October 9th in the year 3018 of the Third Age, Glorfindel sets out from Rivendell; on the 11th he meets the Black Riders and drives them off the Bridge of Mitheithel. Frodo and his companions cross the bridge two days later. At dusk on the 18th of October, he is found by Glorfindel; meanwhile, Gandalf arrives in Rivendell. On October 20, Glorfindel assists Frodo across the Ford of Bruinen, where the horses of the Black Riders are carried off by a large current.

06 October 2014

Today in Middle-earth: October 6

Elijah Wood as Frodo in Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring
 The four Hobbits and Strider are attacked by Riders on Weathertop; Frodo puts on the Ring and is stabbed with a Morgul-blade.

02 October 2014

Guest Post: 'Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor Review'

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is now available on PC and all next-gen consoles. While I can't wait to check this game out for myself to see how well (if at all) the narrative fits into Tolkien's canon, I'm stuck waiting until the game's PS3 release on November 18 (I think I'll prefer console to PC, in this case). In the meantime, I am enjoying the game vicariously through friends' reviews and YouTube videos.

Corey Brooks (@LOTRHobbit93 on Twitter), a friend and fellow gamer/Tolkien fan, was kind enough to allow me to host his review of Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor here on my blog.

(Note: may contain spoilers, depending on your familiarity with Tolkien's writings)

Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor Review 
by Corey Brooks

One does not simply walk into Mordor. Unless you're the Gondorian ranger Talion. Then it's as easy as Legolas taking down orcs in Mirkwood. Middle-earth: Shadow Of Mordor is the Middle-earth game many have been waiting for. While Middle-earth in the format of video games has had a rich history (ranging from great to not-so-great outings), none but The Lord Of The Rings Online have truly been amazing and fun games to play for hours on end while vividly bringing J.R.R. Tolkien's world to life. And while I've enjoyed every Middle-earth game that's been released, some have been waiting for a truly great virtual experience set in this world. Shadow Of Mordor has changed this, and definitely set the bar pretty high for future outings of Middle-earth related games.
Photo: Corey Brooks
The game follows Talion, a ranger of Gondor who, along with his family, is slain at the Black Gate of Mordor, where he has been stationed to keep watch over the cursed land. Some SPOILERS will follow on the story, so if you haven't played yet or do not want to be spoiled, then look away! Right off the bat the tone, very brutal and sad as Talion one moment spars with his son, then is being beaten bloody by an orc. I've never actually cried playing a video game before, but the moment Talion and his family are killed, and how he tells his son "I'm right here! Look at me!", really had me balling my eyes out, and matches the emotional scale of Peter Jackson's Middle-earth films. After a heart wrenching opening, Talion is brought back from the dead by a wraith, who after regaining memories of his past, finds out he is Celebrimbor, the greatest smith of the Second Age, and forger of the Rings of Power, and together, they try to find out why this has happened, along the way also avenging the death of Talion's family by the Black Hand, a servant of Sauron. The story is fantastically done, having a nice cinematic feel to it, with brilliant motion capture and voice work by Troy Baker, who portrays Talion. Players will encounter Gollum, and I love the Frodo/Sam relationship that Talion and Celebrimbor have with the gangly creature. Talion also aligns himself with a cowardly orc called Ratbag, who'll do anything to become a warchief, which also will play in Talion's favor amongst the ranks of Sauron's army. Talion and Ratbag's relationship is pure gold, and had me laughing many, many times. 

01 October 2014

Today in Middle-earth: October 1-3

Fire on Weathertop by Ted Nasmith
Gandalf leaves Bree on the first of October; two days later he is attacked at Weathertop.