20 December 2017

New Items from Badali Jewelry

If, like me, you're a fan of Tolkien-inspired jewelry - and if you follow me on any form of social media - then you probably know all about Badali Jewelry. They have an impressive line of items, and the quality and prices far surpass anything put out by "official" replica websites. I've been a fan of Badali since 2004 when I purchased one of their most popular Lord of the Rings items, the Gollum One Ring on chain, and I've been buying up the rest of their Hobbit and Lord of the Rings lines ever since.

This year, they've been working on some new items and I'm so thrilled to be able to start adding those to my collection as well! Yesterday they unveiled their most recent creation, Eowyn's Shieldmaiden Medallion, which I immediately treated myself to for Christmas.


There are two variations of the Elven Realms necklace - 3 leaves and 9 leaves. Each includes 3 stones featuring colors symbolic of the three Elven realms (green for Mirkwood, blue for Rivendell, and white for Lothlorien). 


The Elven Realms earrings feature a stone set between two leaves of Lorien. Again, the stones come in one of three colors to symbolize the three Elven realms (green for Mirkwood, blue for Rivendell, and white for Lothlorien). 

You can view the entire Elven Realms collection here


This bronze medallion is made to replicate the shield carried by Eowyn during the Battle of the Pelennor Fields. On the back is inscribed, 'No living man am I, You look upon a woman'. 


Visit Badali Jewelry's website for even more amazing jewelry! 
No matter your tastes, there's something for everyone!

30 November 2017

Coming Soon from Funko: More LOTR Pops!

Rejoice, Middle-earth collectors! Funko announced on their blog today that this winter (January-February) they will be releasing another wave of Lord of the Rings Funko Pop! vinyl figures, including Mystery Mini blind bags.

The mystery bags will feature several store exclusives, such as Lurtz, Eowyn, and the Witch-king of Angmar at Hot Topic and Galadriel (glowing), Frodo Baggins (clear), and Gimli (gold) at Barnes & Noble.

Additionally, new figures have been added to the existing line of Pop! movie figures, including two variations of Gollum (with and without fish), Lurtz, Merry Brandybuck, Pippin Took, Aragorn, Treebeard, and two more exclusives - indivisible Gollum (Barnes & Noble) and King Elessar (Toys R Us).

Which figures are you most excited to add to your collection?

Personally, I am looking forward to getting Treebeard (he was on my Funko wishlist back in July) and the Mystery Minis! Those miniature villains are so adorable!

28 September 2017

Cooking for Halflings & Monsters

A few months ago, I received a copy of Tolkien scholar Astrid Tuttle Winegar's Cooking for Halflings & Monsters, a cookbook filled with 111 fantasy-inspired recipes and
In Cooking for Halflings and Monsters: 111 Comfy, Cozy Recipes for Fantasy-Loving Souls, Tolkien scholar Astrid Tuttle Winegar has created 'eleventy-one' original recipes to inspire you. Lovingly illustrated and written with dry humor throughout, this charming cookbook is sure to delight you and your family, friends, and any other lucky halflings (or monsters) who show up in your kitchen. So crack open a beer, rustle up some "Gündürnüb's Grüb," and come along on this epic culinary journey. Your quest for delicious recipes is complete!
The eight chapters of this cookbook each imagine a restaurant (inn, cafe, or bistro) which caters to particular archetypal characters in the fantasy genre and presents a delicious meal for them. But don't worry—you don't have to be a gourmet monster chef! You simply need to love comfort food to enjoy all the recipes within! (Amazon)

While it took me a bit longer than I'd hoped to get started on this review, the timing actually turned out to be pretty good: I ended up baking at the end of Tolkien Week, on the annual celebration of Hobbit Day (aka Bilbo's and Frodo's birthday celebration), and also the official beginning of fall. Originally, my aim was to make a three-course meal using one of the suggestions found at the back of the book; but there were too many desserts to choose from!

I enlisted the help of my mother, since she's a more experienced baker than I am (plus it was a fun mother-daughter experience) and we found three tasty desserts to make. We made all three at once in a span of about two hours. All three recipes called for pecans, which we had an over-abundance of, thanks to my aunt! The remaining ingredients were already in our kitchen. The best part about making these three desserts is that my house still smells of spices, creating a very cozy fall atmosphere.

This was my first review of a cookbook, and it was so much fun baking these three recipes that I'll likely return to this book and make some other meals to review at a later date – so be sure to check back! But in the meantime, visit Amazon to get your own copy of Cooking With Halflings & Monsters so you can make your own delicious treats! The book is full of fun illustrations, dry humour, and lovely photos – whether you're a fan of cooking or a fan of fantasy, it's a must have either way!

Read on to see photos and descriptions of the individual desserts!

01 September 2017

2018 Tolkien Calendar Features Artwork from 'Beren and Lúthien'

The 2018 Tolkien calendar has been published and features watercolours and pencil sketches (by Alan Lee) taken from the recently published Beren and Lúthien.

From the publisher:
The official Tolkien calendar, this year containing 12 of the finest watercolours by Alan Lee, selected from BEREN AND LÚTHIEN by J.R.R. Tolkien, and accompanied by numerous pencil sketches, many unique to this calendar.
The Tolkien calendar has become an established publishing event, eagerly looked forward to by Tolkien fans the world over. This year's is more sumptuous than ever, and is not only illustrated by the acclaimed and Oscar-winning Tolkien artist, it has been designed by him, too, with the same care and attention to detail that has seen his work embraced by the Tolkien Estate, Peter Jackson and discerning fans around the world. The content itself is particularly special, as it is inspired by a Tolkien work that is seeing print in its complete form for the very first time.

To accompany each watercolour painting from
BEREN AND LÚTHIEN, the newly published epic tale of adventure by J.R.R. Tolkien, every month features complementary pencil drawings selected by Alan and there are also brand new sketches produced exclusively for this calendar.

Alan Lee has depicted famous scenes including Gollum and Bilbo, Rivendell and Smaug the Dragon in his celebrated illustrated editions of The Hobbit’ and The Lord of the Rings’, but with these brand new paintings and drawings he will take the reader deeper into the enchanting world of Middle-earth than ever before.
The calendar is available for £9.99 through HarperCollins

Celebrate the Music of Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit This November

Fans of The Lord of the Rings and Game of Thrones can enjoy for the first time ever a joining of the two series in concert this November.

'A Celebration of the Music from Game of Thrones, The Lord of the Rings, and The Hobbit Live in Concert with Symphony Orchestra and Choir' will make its one-time debut at the London Palladium on Sunday, November 12, 2017. Presented by Senbla and Silva Screen Live, it will celebrate the music of Middle-earth and the Seven Kingdoms. 

Ramin Djawadi is the composer behind the Game of Thrones soundtrack, while Howard Shore composed the scores for Peter Jackson's film adaptations of The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit .

Tickets (priced between £36.50 and £71.50) are now on general sale and can be purchased via Really Useful Theatre or Ticketmaster.

28 August 2017

Tolkien Collection Haul: August 22-24

During my vacation last week, my boyfriend and I spent three days in the White Mountains/western Maine area to celebrate our eight year anniversary. We've made this a tradition over the last few years, as there's plenty of gorgeous scenery to enjoy in Maine and Northern New Hampshire; and there are several bookstores that I can't always get to, aside from during these trips.


Our first stop on the way was The Maine Bookhouse in Oxford, Maine. The owner, Harry, was about to close up shop, so to avoid wasting his time, I simply inquired as to what Tolkien items he had. He immediately remembered me and began searching behind his desk for me while I browsed the usual section, and when I came back, he had pulled out The Lord of the Rings on audio cassette. He mentioned the possibility of having more tucked away somewhere, and that he would try to dig them out for me if we came by later.

[For more on The Maine Bookhouse, visit their website or Facebook]

The next day, we ventured into my favourite town of North Conway, New Hampshire, where we hit another of my regular bookstores: The Local BOOKie. The woman I usually deal with, Karen, happened to be off that day, but Pat was just as delightful and shed some light on just how much effort Karen puts into each and every book that comes into her store. I only ended up with one book I didn't already have – The Two Towers – but I managed to replace a bunch of worn copies and also stock up on some books for future giveaways/trades/etc.

[You can find The Local BOOKie on Facebook]


Our last shopping spree was in Norway, Maine, just down the street from Oxford. Harry had told me before that The Maine Bookhouse had opened up a sister store, Food For Thought, and we finally had a chance to check it out. I asked the woman (whose name I unfortunately didn't catch, but she was wonderful!) if she knew of any Tolkien items, and she pulled out a few items I already had... but then she showed me Lin Carter's A Look Behind the Lord of the Rings in a different version than what I had and a different version of The Hobbit (1977) soundtrack on vinyl that I obviously couldn't turn down!

Down the street was Dragon's Lair comic shop, where I picked up The Hobbit Monopoly. Then we made our way back to The Maine Bookhouse. Harry wasn't there, but the woman who was, Jolene, pulled out two items he had set aside for me: The Hobbit on audio cassette and The Tale of Beren and Lúthien on vinyl, read by Christopher Tolkien.

Our final stop was Route 26 Antiques, where I scored well on books last year. This year I found none, but I managed to get three action figures (Twilight Frodo, Frodo in the Barrow-Downs, and a Haradrim Warrior). As we were leaving, my boyfriend spotted two Balrog figures – a bust from Gentle Giant and a polystone statue from Sideshow Collectibles – both at extremely reasonable prices. He ended up grabbing those as my big anniversary gift.

Overall, it was an extremely fruitful trip. We did a lot of other fun things as well, but this was definitely a highlight. I'd also like to give a huge shout-out to my boyfriend, not only for putting up with me and my Tolkien obsession for eight years, but for going out of his way to actively support and encourage my collecting habit the way he does is really special.

26 August 2017

New Book Details the 'Flora of Middle-earth'

Ever wondered what coffee in Middle-earth might have tasted like? I was actually thinking about this the other day, and then happened to stumble upon an article about an upcoming book from University of Florida botanist Walter Judd. In Flora of Middle-earth: Plants of JRR Tolkien's Legendarium, from Oxford University Press, Judd answers that burning question in addition to analysing over 160 other plants – either real or based on real species. Each entry features woodcut-style illustrations by Judd himself, very much in the style of what you might find in a hobbit's book of flowers.

Tolkien was quite fond of nature, as you'll find in reading The Lord of the Rings especially; so it's no wonder there's enough material to devote an entire book to!

For more information and exclusive pictures, check out the post on Entertainment Weekly's website!

09 August 2017

A Beginner's Guide to Comic Con

Boston Comic Con 2014
What once started as an outlet for comic book collectors to meet up and indulge in their passion together has evolved into so much more. "Comic cons" now cater to all genres of entertainment – sci-fi/fantasy, horror, anime, film, TV, music, and more. Some simply have a presence at conventions, while others are the sole focus of these events. Whatever the case, if there's a fanbase for it, there's probably a convention for it.

With all these choices out there, conventions can be pretty overwhelming, even for the seasoned attendee! I've put together a short Beginner's Guide to Conventions, based on my own experiences, to help you prepare for and navigate through these events. 

  • Do your research: determine which conventions are worth going to based on factors such as schedule, distance, cost (admission, travel and accommodation), and relevance. 
  • Personally, I start by looking at conventions closest to home so I can avoid the cost of overnight stays and other such accommodations; then I narrow down my cons by determining which vendors or media guests I'm most interested in seeing. 
  • Get tickets and all passes in advance to avoid lines and the possibility of things being sold out. Conventions are meant to be fun; standing in line to purchase tickets the day of or finding out that something is sold out can really put a damper on your day! 
  • It's always more fun to invite a friend (or small group or friends) or family, unless you're the type of person who prefers to do things on their own.  

19 July 2017

Middle-earth: Shadow of War Voice Cast and San Diego Comic Con Panel

Middle-earth: Shadow of War, the sequel to Monolith's popular Shadow of Mordor, is slated for release on October 10 and features some big name voice actors:
  • Troy Baker as Talion and the game's Performance Capture Director
  • Alastair Duncan as Celebrimbor
  • Laura Bailey (Injustice 2, Uncharted 4: A Thief's End) as the elite assassin Eltariel
  • Kumail Ninjiani (Silicon Valley, Mass Effect: Andromeda)
  • Pollyanna McIntosh (The Walking Dead)
Additionally, Monolith Productions' Vice President, Creative, Michael de Plater, will join select voice cast members for a Middle-earth: Shadow of War panel at San Diego Comic Con this weekend (July 20-23).

The panel itself will take place on July 21 from 2:00 - 3:00 pm PDT:Delve into the depths of Middle-earth:
  • Shadow of War, the follow up to the critically acclaimed open-world action adventure Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor, as Talion and Celebrimbor return and go behind enemy lines to forge an army and turn all of Mordor against the Dark Lord, Sauron.  Middle-earth: Shadow of War offers a richer, more personal and expansive world full of epic heroes and villains, iconic locations, original enemy types, even more personalities and a new cast of characters with untold stories – brought to life through the expansion of the award-winning Nemesis System. 
  • Panelists: Michael de Plater, Monolith Productions Vice President, Creative (Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor), Troy Baker, actor and Middle-earth: Shadow of War performance capture director (Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor), along with actors Kumail Nanjiani (“The Big Sick,” “Silicon Valley”), Pollyanna McIntosh (“The Walking Dead,” “Hap and Leonard,” “The Woman”), Laura Bailey (Injustice 2, “Critical Role”) and moderator, Matt Mercer (“Critical Role”).
  • Room 6BCF, San Diego Convention Center, 111 W. Harbor Dr., San Diego, CA 92101

If you're attending SDCC this weekend, be sure to stop by the Shadow of War panel!

16 July 2017

Journey into Mordor with LOTRO's Newest Expansion

Middle-earth themed MMORPG The Lord of the Rings Online recently celebrated its tenth anniversary; following this milestone and five expansions packs' worth of adventures, players will finally be able to journey into Mordor with the game's upcoming Mordor expansion, which is slated for release on July 31st.

In an interview with MMO-Central, Standing Stone - the company which took over the game after Turbine switched over to mobile gaming - explained that the adventures will take place after the One Ring has been destroyed by Frodo and Sam.

“The reason that we can enter Mordor and not interfere with Frodo and Sam’s mission is because the majority of the Mordor expansion is going to take place after they’ve already gotten to Mount Doom. It would not be appropriate, I don’t think, for adventurers to be gallivanting in Mordor concurrent with Frodo and Sam doing their thing,” Jeff Libby said. “Fairly early on in the expansion, I think you’ll see that things get sorted out in a way, and then Mordor is our oyster.” (Check out the full interview here!)

LOTRO's Mordor expansion comes with a slew of new features, including:
  • 300+ new quests
  • Hundreds of new deeds
  • New Allegiance system
  • New instance cluster with raid

The expansion will be available in the LOTRO store following Update 22 this winter:
  • Base Edition (Moria region and instances only): 2495 points
  • High Elf race: 1000 points

For now, players can purchase one of three editions of the game:

The Ultimate Fan Bundle - $129.99
  • Aria of the Valar - instant boost to Mordor
  • High Elf race
  • Character slot
  • Exclusive Alliance cosmetics & mount
  • Exclusive Mordor cosmetics & mount
  • Two exclusive titles
  • XP accelerators for all characters
  • Housing teleport for all characters
  • Three relics for all characters
  • Two essence reclamation scrolls for all characters
  • Ten extra shared storage slots
  • Code for a month of free VIP access

The Collector's Edition - $79.99
  • Aria of the Valar
  • High Elf race
  • Character slot
  • Exclusive Alliance cosmetics & mount
  • One exclusive title

The Standard Edition - $39.99 
  • Aria of the Valar  

Will you be journeying into Mordor? And if so, which edition will you choose?

09 July 2017

My Funko Pop! Vinyl Wishlist

Back in September, myself and a few others compiled a list of Lord of the Rings themed Funko Pop! Vinyl figures we hoped would eventually be made, since the company had only put out a very limited line of Hobbit figures and one from The Lord of the Rings.

Since then, Funko has released a new line of figures, including such characters as the Balrog, a Nazgul (in regular and twilight form), Frodo and Sam, Gandalf, and Saruman. Additionally, a San Diego Comic Con exclusive featuring Aragorn and Arwen was also revealed; but beyond that, there's no word as to whether Funko will continue to put out more characters from The Lord of the Rings (though at this point I would be surprised if they didn't, since this line has been so well-received).

In any case, I decided to update my list and jot down a few characters I'd still really love to see in Funko Pop! form someday – but this time, I found myself thinking in general terms, and not just in regards to Peter Jackson's films. I came up with a ton, but narrowed it down for the sake of this post.

Here's a "Top Ten" list of my design – I'd love to hear your choices in the comments below:

From The Lord of the Rings Films
  • Galadriel (standard and mirror variation)
  • King of the Dead (glow in the dark, obviously!)
  • Boromir (with arrows in chest and boat accessory – a little depressing, I know)
  • Treebeard (I kept debating on whether I wanted Jackson's Treebeard or Ralph Bakshi's, but I think Jackson's would be more recognisable) 
  • Gimli (because so far we only have one Dwarf and that is unacceptable! How is Funko Legolas supposed to sail West without his BFF?)
  • Mûmak (especially in baby form, this would just be the cutest Funko ever!)
Other Licenses
  • Tom Bombadil (based on LOTRO's design; since he was absent from the films, it's only right to include him as a Funko Pop!)
  • Bilbo (Rankin/Bass' version would be great for older fans who grew up with the original Hobbit/LOTR films or the collector looking for the unique item)
  • J.R.R. Tolkien (this just seems like an obvious one)

What do you think? Let me know or share your own choices in the comments below! And be sure to follow me on Facebook/Instagram/Twitter: @TolkienBritta!

02 June 2017

Celebrate 10 Years of LOTRO With Commemorative Soundtrack from HUGEsound Records

Fans of The Lord of the Rings Online, rejoice! Now available as a digital download is "The Lord of the Rings Online – 10th Anniversary Commemorative Soundtrack", with composer Chance Thomas ("Riders of Rohan" and the upcoming Mordor expansion) at the helm.

The full double album can be purchased in its entirety for $14.99 from HUGEsound Records, or individual tracks can be purchased for $0.99. If you're a fan of The Lord of the Rings Online – or even just a fan of Tolkien-inspired music in general – you'll definitely want to add this album to your playlist!

Check out the interview with Chance below!

What's your favourite track from The Lord of the Rings Online? 
Let me know in the comments section below!

23 May 2017

Jonathan Burton "The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring" Collectible Art Print

You may remember back in January I posted about a flash artwork sale over at Bottleneck Gallery (if not, check out Matt Ferguson's trilogy set here). (I absolutely love my set and promise to post images as soon as I can find a proper place to display all three prints!)

If you got your hands on that set, you know what an awesome deal it was; if you didn't, here's your chance to grab another unique piece of artwork inspired by The Lord of the Rings.

This officially licensed "Fellowship of the Ring" screen print by Jonathan Burton is one of 200 and features Isildur taking up his father Elendil's broken sword and facing off against Sauron during the War of the Last Alliance.

Grab yours now over at BottleneckGallery.com before they're gone!

19 May 2017

'Middle-earth: From Script to Screen'

Available now for pre-order is Weta's biggest volume of behind-the-scenes insight into two of the most popular film trilogies of all time. Middle-earth: From Script to Screen will be available in October 2017.

They said it couldn’t be done, but in an effort spanning a decade and undertaken in a distant corner of the world, a team of artists and creative visionaries laboured to bring the unfilmable to the silver screen. Under the direction of Sir Peter Jackson, their extraordinary efforts to adapt J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit generated almost 24 hours of cinematic wonder, and transported audiences to a world of astonishing beauty and power.

Richly illustrated with thousands of film frames, concept art and behind-the-scenes imagery, many previously unseen, Middle-earth: From Script to Screen follows in the footsteps of the Fellowship of the Ring and the Company of Thorin Oakenshield, visiting the realms and landscapes of Middle-earth and uncovering their secrets. Accompanying this stunning gallery, cast and crew reflect upon their experiences, share brand-new stories and insights into how the wildernesses and soundstages of New Zealand were transformed into a magical world of hobbits, Dwarves and Elves, resulting in one of the most spectacular achievements in cinematic history.

With foreword by Sir Peter Jackson and additional writing by KM Rice; illustrated with final film imagery, behind-the-scenes pictures and conceptual artwork, including places not seen in the final films, this monumental compilation offers unique and far-reaching insights into the creation of the world we know and love as Middle-earth.

For a limited time...
Order your copy from our website and receive an incredible set of prop replica set dressing pieces, created by 3Foot7 calligrapher and graphic artist Daniel Reeve for The Hobbit. These beautiful signs were created for the film for display on a Hobbiton noticeboard in the films; all seven replicas are printed double-sided on high-quality 160gsm woodfree paper, and presented to you in a unique envelope.

Visit Weta Workshop's website to pre-order your copy today!

01 March 2017

Middle-earth: Shadow of War Officially Announced

Middle-earth: Shadow of Mordor is officially getting a sequel! Warner Bros. officially announced the upcoming Middle-earth: Shadow of War yesterday following a retailer leak.

As with Shadow of Mordor, Middle-earth: Shadow of War will focus on an original storyline set in Middle-earth, following the ranger Talion as he attempts to thwart Sauron and defend Middle-earth – this time with the help of a new ring of power. (Personally, I'm a bit skeptical of this bit, as it sounds to me like bad fanfiction; but Shadow of Mordor was loads of fun, so I'm reserving judgment until I've actually played.)

Shadow of War is slated for a North American release on 22 August (25th for Europe) and will be available on PS4, Xbox One, Steam, and Windows 10. The first official gameplay trailer will be released on the 8th of March; for now, you can watch the official trailer:

23 January 2017

New LOTR Funko Pop! Vinyl Figures Revealed at London Toy Fair

At long last, we have word on new Funko Pop! vinyl figures featuring more characters from The Lord of the Rings (the original run was very light, and The Hobbit figures were discontinued almost immediately). A few months ago, my friends Myla, Lily, Josh, and I all came up with a wishlist of Funko Pop! vinyl figures we'd love to see released; and it was nice to see a few of them made the cut! I'm still hoping they will release even more figures, as these all seem to be from The Fellowship of the Ring; but in any case, this is a great addition to the Funko line!

Just announced are Frodo Baggins (three variations), Samwise Gamgee, Gandalf, Saruman,
a Nazgûl, and a Twilight Ringwraith, while the big 6-inch figure is the much-anticipated Balrog!

Additionally, there will be two Pocket Pop! keychains available: Frodo and Gandalf.

While a date has not been set for their release, they will be here sometime this year. Earlier reports had suggested this spring, so stay tuned for updated info! 

Which of these are your favourites, and which other characters were you hoping to see?

22 January 2017

Valentine's Day Shopping Guide

Christmas may be over, but there's one more major shopping holiday coming up -- you guessed it: Valentine's Day. Although not everyone is on board with the concept, it is a fun occasion to spoil yourself or a friend/spouse/significant other/etc. Like Christmas and birthdays, it's an opportunity for Tolkien collectors to give and receive something special. So regardless of how you feel about Valentine's Day, here are some gift-giving ideas for all types of recipients, whether you want to give an extravagant gift, something small, or a card with a message from the heart.


Cards are great for friends, family, and new relationships where you want to express your feelings but aren't sure what kind of gift to give.

Beckadoodles has some fun Hobbit Valentines on her Etsy shop; while you're there, take a look through Etsy, as there are lots of creative designs available this time of year!

You can also share some of these eCards made by a few of my Middle-earth News colleagues:


Who doesn't love Tolkien-themed jewellery? There are so many different items to choose from, so for this guide, I've narrowed it down to "his and hers" sets - so if you're looking for promise, engagement, or weddings rings with a Tolkien twist, look no further! (Then again, any ring can be whatever you want it to be; it's always up to personal taste.)

  • His and hers Nenya rings from Badali Jewelry - Get your officially licensed, book-inspired Elven rings of Power from Badali Jewelry! These rings are available in sterling silver, white gold, yellow gold, rose gold, and palladium white gold and with several different stone options. Prices range from $177 to $3,716. This set is as versatile as you want to make it and can be used as a promise, engagement, or wedding ring set. 

  • Elvish inspired engagement rings from Jens Hansen - Made by the same folks who crafted the original One Ring for Peter Jackson's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films. Custom engraving available on inside and out. Ring is available in white gold, platinum, palladium, red gold, and yellow gold and ranging in price from $629 to $2,859. 

  • Elvish inspired wedding rings from Jens Hansen - Made by the same folks who crafted the original One Ring for Peter Jackson's Hobbit and Lord of the Rings films. Custom engraving available on inside and out. Ring is available in red gold ($3,589), yellow gold ($3,589), white gold/palladium/platinum ($4,219).


Maybe you want to be different and skip the cards and jewellery altogether. If you/your significant other aren't big on these, here are a few other gift ideas to consider:

  • The Tale of Beren and Luthien (pre-order) - Perhaps the greatest love story ever told. While you won't be able to read this book until its release on May 4th, you can at least pre-order it. 
  • Tolkien's Requiem: Concerning Beren and Luthien - you can download this title for Kindle and read up on the story of Beren and Luthien while you wait for the aforementioned book's release. 
  • Cooking for Halflings and Monsters - Why not treat your Valentine to a nice, home-cooked meal using one of the recipes in Astrid Winegar's new book? Or maybe you'd have more fun cooking some delicious meals and treats together? 
  • The Proverbs of Middle-earth - This is a fun read featuring many of the proverbs found in Tolkien's writings, through which we learn a lot about each culture and race in Middle-earth.

When in doubt, some good places to browse are Etsy for handmade/unique items, eBay for harder to find items and good deals, and AbeBooks for a wide variety of Tolkien books at great prices.

While places like HobbitShop and The Noble Collection do offer a wide range of merchandise and collectibles, when it comes to expensive items like jewellery, my personal recommendations are Badali Jewelry, Christie's Jewellery in NZ, and Jens Hansen jewellers. You will pay more money in some cases, but the quality of these three companies is far superior and definitely worth every penny.

Have some ideas of your own you'd like to share? Feel free to leave a comment below, Tweet me, or leave a comment on my Facebook page!

15 January 2017

Help Tolkien Fan Rúnar's Dream Come True

Rúnar Þór Njálsson is a 25 year old Tolkien fan from Iceland who was born with cerebral palsy. Although he has been confined to a wheelchair all his life, he hasn't let that get in the way of his dream to visit Middle-earth (aka New Zealand) and participate in the Red Carpet Tours. But travel is expensive, especially given the circumstances; which is why Rúnar has set up a GoFundMe page.

I’m a HUGE The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit fan, not a day goes by without me doing something related to it and I live and breathe Middle-Earth as you can clearly see by looking at the pictures :) My ultimate dream/on the top of my bucket list, is to travel to New Zealand and to go on a 14 day tour, to travel across the country and visit all the locations that were used in the filming, meeting the people responsible for creating this masterpiece and getting a look behind the scenes and just being in NZ/Middle-Earth for real. Here is the tour I’m hopefully going on http://www.redcarpet-tours.com/lotr-tours/14-day-lord-of-the-rings-tour

I find it quite hard actually to describe just how much The Lord of the Rings and The Hobbit means to me and my life. It’s much more than just movies or books to me. If I’m feeling down or just plainly having a bad day I can always lose myself within this magical world and forget all about my disability and troubles even if it’s just for a little while.

New Zealand is very far from Iceland and this will be a very expensive and difficult journey (flights, the tour and accommodations). I knew I could never afford this myself, being disabled and receiving disability pension which would never be enough to pay for this adventure. So I always thought that my dream would just stay a dream and I would never be able to see it coming true. That was until I stumbled on this site and saw all the amazing work gofundme and the people in this world were doing. Helping people in times of need and making distant dreams like mine, a reality. This filled me with great hope and here I am writing my campaign :)
For more information about Rúnar and his campaign, please visit his GoFundMe page at https://www.gofundme.com/2dj937ms. If you cannot donate, please share the link with your friends and networks and help spread the word!

14 January 2017

Matt Ferguson's Official Lord of the Rings Trilogy Set On Sale Now!

Interested in adding some cool Lord of the Rings art to your home? Bottleneck Gallery has you covered! From now until Sunday, January 15th at 11:59 pm eastern, you can order one (or all) of three officially licensed prints by Matt Ferguson!
Click to enlarge

Title: Bag End, Zirakzigil, Minas Tirith
Type: Screen print
Size: 12 x 24 inches
Price: $35 each/ $100 for the set

It will be a timed edition that will start Thursday, January 12th at 12pm eastern and last till Sunday January 15th at 11:59pm eastern on our homepage bottleneckgallery.com.

We will also being holding a charity pin release for the Myfanwy Townsend Melanoma Research Fund. 100% of all profits from the pin will be donated to the fund in memory of Alexandra Grace, who was close to one of the members of the Bottleneck team. 

The pin will cost $10.

This set is truly amazing, and one that every fan of Middle-earth should have in their home or office. If your interests extend to other areas of pop culture, be sure to browse more of Bottleneck Gallery's website, as they offer a variety of other products fans all over are sure to love!

13 January 2017

The Role of Luck in 'The Hobbit'

It's Friday the 13th and I thought I'd get back into the swing of things by writing a quick post on luck. And what better example of luck in Middle-earth than in Tolkien's The Hobbit?

Luck plays a pretty prominent role in The Hobbit, beginning with Bilbo Baggins himself, chosen by Gandalf to even out the odd number of Dwarves:
You asked me to find the fourteenth man for your expedition, and I chose Mr Baggins. Just let any one say I chose the wrong man or the wrong house and you can stop at thirteen and have all the bad luck you like, or go back to digging coal. 
 From then on, luck seems to follow the Company in ways both subtle and more pronounced.

When Bilbo is tasked with scouting the Trolls' camp, he has the misfortune of setting off William's squealing purse, alerting the trolls of his presence and thus getting him captured. However, this bad luck is offset by Gandalf, who shows up at precisely the right moment and confuses the Trolls as they argue over how to cook the Dwarves and Hobbit, delaying them long enough for the sun to come up and turn them all to stone.

After they escape the Trolls' camp, the Company finds shelter in a small cave, which, as it turns out, is the entrance to Goblin-town:
It turned out a good thing that night that they had brought little Bilbo with them, after all. For somehow, he could not go to sleep for a long while; and when he did sleep, he had very nasty dreams. He dreamed that a crack in the wall at the back of the cave got bigger and bigger, and opened wider and wider, and he was very afraid but could not call out or do anything but lie and look. Then he dreamed that the floor of the cave was giving way, and he was slipping-beginning to fall down, down, goodness knows where to.
At that he woke up with a horrible start, and found that part of his dream was true. A crack had opened at the back of the cave, and was already a wide passage. He was just in time to see the last of the ponies' tails disappearing into it. Of course he gave a very loud yell, as loud a yell as a hobbit can give, which is surprising for their size.
Bilbo yells at the right moment: Gandalf awakens and uses his magic to light up the cave and strike down some of the goblins trying to capture them. However, in the chaos, Bilbo and the Dwarves are swallowed up into a crack in the cave, separating the wizard from the rest of the Company. Shortly thereafter, they meet back up in the halls of the Great Goblin, but as the Dwarves again try to escape the goblins, Bilbo gets separated from the rest of the group.

When Bilbo regains consciousness, he discovers that his sword (Sting), shines blue to alert him of the presence of goblins; normally a troublesome sign, but in the darkness of the cave, it is another stroke of luck for him. Fumbling around in the dark cave, he soon stumbles upon a ring – and its dangerous owner, Gollum, who wants to eat him. The two devise a game of riddles, with Gollum showing Bilbo the way out if the hobbit wins; or eating the hobbit if he loses. Towards the end of the game, Gollum begins to grow impatient, and Bilbo nervous.
He began to get frightened, and that is bad for thinking. Gollum began to get out of his boat. He flapped into the water and paddled to the bank; Bilbo could see his eyes coming towards him. His tongue seemed to stick in his mouth; he wanted to shout out: “Give me more time! Give me time!” But all that came out with a sudden squeal was:

“Time! Time!”

Bilbo was saved by pure luck. For that of course was the answer.
By now, Gollum is angry, hungry, and sick of riddles. He tells Bilbo to ask one last question. Unable to think of anything, Bilbo simply asks, "What have I got in my pocket?" and after three unsuccessful guesses, Bilbo declares himself the winner. He reminds Gollum of his promise to lead him out of the cave, and the creature scampers off to find his precious. His plan is to slip the ring on his finger, turn invisible, and eat the poor hobbit anyway. Angered by the discovery that his precious is missing, Gollum launches into a fit of rage and pursues Bilbo, who ultimately ends on slipping the ring on his finger, turning invisible and escaping Gollum just in the nick of time.

Bilbo manages to make it out of the cave and reunite with his companions; but Gandalf presses them to move on, knowing that come nightfall, the goblins will be out in the open air looking for them. After they make it some distance, they hear the howls of wild wolves. The Company soon finds themselves trapped in the tall trees above the wolves and goblins.

By another stroke of luck, the Lord of the Eagles just so happens to notice the commotion and sends some of his eagles to investigate out of curiosity. The Eagles generally take little notice of the goblins, and they do not go out of their way to help others; but "as a matter of fact, Gandalf, who had often been in the mountains, had once rendered a service to the eagles and healed their lord from an arrow-wound" (p. 110), and so the eagles returned the favour by rescuing the Company from the wolves and goblins.

After the depart from the eagles' eyries, the Company seek a short rest at the House of Beorn, who loans them steeds to bring them to the edges of Mirkwood. Once they reach the strange forest, Gandalf leaves them with a warning to stay on the path and don't stray for any reason.  While trying to board their small boat to cross the waters, the Company is startled by a deer, which Thorin shoots down. At the same time, Bombur falls into the enchanted water and begins to drown. When he is pulled out, he is fast asleep; he remains in a deep slumber for several days while the Company struggles to carry him along.

Bilbo is again separated from the Dwarves, this time in the forest. At one point, he dozes off and wakes up just in time to see a giant spider tying up his legs – "It was lucky that he had come to his senses in time. Soon he would not have been able to move at all" (p. 155). Bilbo saves himself and his companions from the spiders and, later, the halls of the Elvenking. They arrive in Lake-town, where they receive a warm welcome as they make their way toward the Lonely Mountain.

Once the Company reaches the top of the mountain, they are unable to locate the secret entrance, nor do they have any idea how to open it. Bilbo, upon hearing the knocking of the thrush, remembers Elronds words back in Rivendell and is able to solve the riddle; the Company watches as the last rays of light fall upon the entrance and illuminate a small door on the side of the mountain. They are able to use Thorin's key to unlock the door and enter the mountain.

When Bilbo sneaks into Smaug's lair and attempts to find the Arkenstone, he happens to notice a weak spot in the dragon's armour; but he has also angered the dragon, and the Dwarves find themselves trapped in the mountain as Smaug launches his first attack:
Something in [Thorin's] voice gave the dwarves an uncomfortable feeling. Slowly Thorin shook off his dreams and getting up he kicked away the stone that wedged the door. Then they thrust upon it, and it closed with a snap and a clang. No trace of a keyhole was there left on the inside. They were shut in the Mountain!

And not a moment too soon. They had hardly gone any distance down the tunnel when a blow smote the side of the Mountain like the crash of battering-rams made of forest oaks and swung by giants. The rock boomed, the walls cracked and stones fell from the roof on their heads. What would have happened if the door had still been open I don’t like to think.
Meanwhile, the thrush, who has been listening to Bilbo's tale of meeting Smaug and noticing his one weak spot, flies back to Esgaroth to tell Bard the bowman just as he's about to loose his final arrow; with a single shot to the breast, Bard defeats the dragon and saves the people of Lake-town.

After some time, the Dwarves begin to wonder at the silence outside the mountain, and the sudden gathering of birds. The raven Roäc appears and informs the Company that Smaug is dead and the birds are returning to the land; without this lucky appearance, the Dwarves would have had no idea of the death of Smaug. Roäc reminds Thorin of the deal he struck with the men of Lake-town, but Thorin sends the raven off, unwilling to share any of his treasure with 'thieves'. 

Thorin's unwillingness to part with even one piece of his treasure ultimately leads to an almost-battle between the Dwarves and the men of Lake-town and the Elves of Mirkwood; by another stroke of luck, they are warned just in time by Gandalf of an attack by goblins, bats and wargs. As the Battle of Five Armies ensues, Bilbo slips on the ring to avoid being in the way. Upon noticing the arrival of the eagles, he is struck by a hurtling stone and knocked unconscious, eventually coming-to after the battle has ended and several members of the Company have died.

After all that the Company has been through, Bilbo suggests that he has been quite lucky throughout his adventure; to which Gandalf remarks that it was not necessarily luck, but instead prophecies of old finally coming true:
Surely you don’t disbelieve the prophecies, because you had a hand in bringing them about yourself? You don’t really suppose, do you, that all your adventures and escapes were managed by mere luck, just for your sole benefit? You are a very fine person, Mr. Baggins, and I am very fond of you; but you are only quite a little fellow in a wide world after all!

What do you think? Was Bilbo as lucky as The Hobbit seems to suggest, or was it more fate than luck? Leave a comment with your thoughts below or Tweet me @TolkienBritta!