Buddy Read

March into Middle-earth: The Fellowship of the Ring Buddy Read, Part Three

March Into Middle-earth

Welcome to the third part of my re-read/buddy read of The Fellowship of the Ring! If you’ve missed the previous discussions, you can find Chapters I – V here and Chapters VI – XI here. The buddy read is also taking place on my Goodreads book group, Dragons & Jetpacks if you’re interested in joining over there.

This discussion will cover Chapters XII – XVI of The Fellowship of the Ring, and will contain spoilers for the book.

  • I don’t fault Peter Jackson’s decision to add more urgency and speed up time, for example during ‘Flight to the Ford’. What is about 17 days in the book seems like less than 1 in the film, and it adds more excitement and peril – there’s not that much sense of Frodo’s life being in any particular danger otherwise.
  • I never noticed this before, perhaps because it only appears once and in passing – but Tolkien mentions that there are werewolves in Middle-earth. Are they linked to Beornings, the men who can turn into bears?
  • I forgot that Gloin was at Rivendell! It’s fun finding all the links between The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings. There are others too, like mentions of Bard the Bowman and Beorn.
  • It’s also funny to imagine the father-son dynamic between Gloin and Gimli. Gimli as the teenage son who is dragged, reluctantly, onto this road trip… and comes out of it as one of the Fellowship, as well as with a beautiful friendship.
  • tumblr_nhijatoHCf1t53etdo1_500

  • There’s also a mention of Bombur… and how he is now so fat that it takes six dwarves to lift him!
  • There was a bit of foreshadowing of what was yet to come in Moria, when it is mentioned that the dwarves do not know what has happened to Balin, Ori and Oin.
  • It was mentioned that Aragorn was not at the feast in Rivendell. My immediate thought was that he was… ‘catching up’ with Arwen, but it is later explained that he was in fact receiving news from Elladan and Elrohir, the sons of Elrond. Oh well.
  • There is a mention of Celebrimbor, one of the forgers of the One Ring, who is also a playable character in the video game Shadow of Mordor – one I’ve recently been playing. It’s quite fun to link the game into the book a bit more, rather than just the setting of Mordor and presence of orcs.
  • I remember skipping the chapter ‘The Council of Elrond’ on some read-throughs, and I now I remember why. It does drag quite a bit, and is packed full of exposition.
  • One of the bits that really made me laugh – the Council talk of how lucky it is that Gollum is safely locked away in Mirkwood, and then Legolas is like ‘Oh yeah by the way guys, he escaped! Whoops, lol’. Oh Legolas…
  • Probably what he was doing instead of sharing the important news.
    Probably what he was doing instead of sharing the important news.
  • Once again, time goes super slow and the Fellowship actually spend TWO WHOLE MONTHS in Rivendell.
  • One bit that completely disappear from my memory – the Fellowship fighting Wargs just before entering Moria! I remember this happening in the film of The Hobbit, but can’t think if it’s in the book. Was it lifted over?

How are you enjoying the book so far? Are there any parts within these chapters that you really loved?

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Misc.

March into Middle-earth: The One Where Rinn and Claire Fangirl, Part Two

March Into Middle-earth

Time for Part Two of Rinn and Claire’s Mega Tolkien Fangirl Session! If you missed Part One, you can check it out here. This is part of a series of posts of the two of us discussing Tolkien and all things Middle-earth. Although we are asking each other the questions, we’d love to know your answers to them too – leave your responses in the comments! Claire ended the last post with the following question for me:

Claire: Do you see yourself in a character or especially fond of one? Also, do you have a fave. magical “creature” in that series?

Rinn: I actually get a little sad whenever I go past The Eagle and Child… it’s now owned by a chain and it’s not the same! 😦 It still looks awesome inside and out though, there’s loads of Tolkien and C.S. Lewis inspired art, but it doesn’t have that cosy pub feel to it that it would have had for them. Not that you could get away with smoking a Gandalf-style pipe in there anyway…

Okay, so I heartily agree here with #TeamSamwiseGamgee. He was the unsung hero of the whole thing, and I love how The Return of the King closed with him. Sam is just adorable, a typical Hobbit and not at all the kind of person you would expect for such a mission.

But at the same time, even though people go on about him whining, Frodo Baggins was damn brave. He didn’t have to do anything. He volunteered to take the Ring to Mordor, not even knowing where Mordor was or what it meant. Despite the Ring warping him and turning him against his friends, he still completed his quest – although of course, not without his Sam. You really can’t have one without the other. Frodo started it off, began the quest to get to Mount Doom, and Sam finished it by carrying Frodo up the mountain.

I pretty much have a soft spot for every member of the Fellowship, for various reasons. The dynamic between Gimli and Legolas is just something wonderful, the Hobbits add fantastic comic relief and ‘ground’ the story a little more, Aragorn is so noble without even trying and Boromir… oh, Boromir. My heart absolutely breaks when, after trying to take the Ring from Frodo, he realises what he has done. Sean Bean caught that moment so beautifully – the crack in his voice, the look on his face – and the fact that he dies less than a chapter later hurts so much.

THIS SCENE KILLS ME EVERYTIME. But not as much as Boromir. Hahaha- *sobs uncontrollably*
THIS SCENE KILLS ME EVERYTIME. But not as much as Boromir. Hahaha- *sobs uncontrollably*

As for a magical creature… the Eagles kind of felt a bit like a deus ex machina, plus they’re like super snobby in the book. Can I say my favourite creature is Bill the Pony? He may not be magical, but he was loyal and helped out the Fellowship – until he probably became a snack for the Watcher after being released just in front of the Mines of Moria. *sobs again*

What about locations – is there a place you’d love to visit? Or even live?

Claire:TEAM BILL THE PONY! TEAM BILL! YES! I totally agree with that! I actually like Smaug in all of his haughty dragon-ness. Trolls are funny because they are complete… well they’re absolute idiots.

I luff you, Bill.
I luff you, Bill.

I agree with you about Frodo actually, he won’t come to mind immediately me for a hero because it is so obvious that he is one. He did so much and wasn’t asked to do it, he had no obligation to take the ring and he did it out of pure love for his people and the Shire. I think that is amazing as well, and like you said Samwise and Frodo are the dynamic duo. They needed each other- Samwise needed to be prodded I think, he is a bit of a settler and Frodo needed someone to remind him of the light of the world. They worked well.

And don’t start me with Boromir, he was absolutely brilliant. When I read his chapter in the book I cried and cried, of all the characters to do I wish it hadn’t been him! I guess that there is some purpose to it, that it means something deeper and metaphorical but Boromir was the epitome of human: terrified, pressured and remorseful. In the end he died brave and he died repenting for his “sins” but ugh, all the feels.

But to answer your question about living: Shire hands down. Always the Shire. It’s near a forest which would be nice to pop into every now and then, I’m totally obsessed with Tom Bombadil and his darn yellow creme, honey and fresh white bread. Dammit, every time I read that passage I get so hungry. I think maybe that instead of living in Hobbiton in the shire, I’d also like to live closer to the Brandywine, with the Tooks and Brandybucks. It sounded like fertile land but also beautiful and being near the water, there is always fish/swimming to be had. Yes.

I would never, ever, ever live in a mountain. I dislike stone and dark and not being able to see the sun quickly. It is for that same reason I’d want to avoid being in a forest as well, as so many of the Elves seem fond of. Trees can choke out light and I’d rather be by them and not in them. No Bree, no Gondor. Nope, nope! No city of men, Dwarf or Elf for me. I’d visit the cities of Elves but never stay long.

This is a bit of a philosophical question, but with The Lord of the Rings, it seems a bit of a mythic or origin style story for the UK, again it just seems it in my eyes, but say Middle Earth was real but that our current present and lifestyles were also real, how would magic survive in your opinion? Where would it show? Or would it fade completely? Would any Elves be left? Dwarves? Would there be the Wizards? Hobbits? Would anything of that magic and fantasy exist?

Rinn: #AlwaysTheShire too. I just read the first chapter of FotR last night and it makes me so happy. All those jolly Hobbits in their beautiful Shire, with their cosy lifestyles. Gimme! So you’d be one of those unusual Hobbits that swims, eh? 😉

Actually I’d pretty much give exactly the same answer as you. No no NO to a mountain or cave, no dark enclosed spaces, thank you. And I’d like to be by a forest, but not constantly inside it. Although Lothlorien’s flets are pretty awesome. HOWEVER my second choice of a place to live would be Rohan, because of that Viking-inspired architecture, and the whole society built around horsemanship. Edoras is gorgeous, rising up out of the flat plains with Meduseld at the very top. Love love love it.

As for your question – the thing is, the magic is Middle-earth is not always obvious. We don’t actually see that much of it. Sure, there’s the One Ring. But the only other obvious sources are Gandalf and Saruman, who we don’t actually see using it very much, and perhaps Galadriel. I guess it’s more about the magic within objects than people.

If it were in our world, I think we wouldn’t see it in built up areas and cities – just like the lack of obvious magic in somewhere like Bree or Rohan. Or maybe there’d be an underground following – a secret magical London or whatever. I could see it definitely surviving in the countryside. My home county is actually one of the ones that inspired Tolkien when creating the Shire, and to me it is a truly magical place. That’s why I could definitely see magic surviving in the countryside, where it could be hidden away, where all these beautiful places are just around the corner and you don’t even know.

As for all the different races, I love the idea of them all living in our world. I’m not sure all of them would cope but… imagine a business meeting with a variety of besuited Hobbits, Elves and Dwarves! Elves as park rangers, Dwarves as miners or caving instructors, Hobbits as chefs or pub owners… Or if the story took place in our world, something like this…

image01

Or, you know, this every day scenario…

lotr

Now my next question for you: the musical score for the films, composed by Howard Shore, was such an important part of creating the right atmosphere. To me, it is perfect and completely sets the mood. Are there any other songs or pieces of music that remind you of Middle-earth or The Lord of the Rings?

Claire will answer the next question and continue our chat in the next part of the post, same time next week! 🙂 Let us know your responses to any of the questions in the comments.

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #16: My Favourite Elements of Fantasy Fiction

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my favourite elements of fantasy fiction.

1. Unexpected friendships

Two people thrown together by unexpected circumstances, whether it be a quest or for revenge, their previous distrust and even hatred developing into a close friendship – I LOVE THIS. My favourite (and possibly the most obvious) example is that of Legolas and Gimli in J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings. It’s often a feature in fantasy fiction due to different races that do not get along, like dwarves and elves.

Would you like me to describe it to you? Or should I fetch you a box?
(image source)

You do however see something similar in Throne of Glass by Sarah J. Maas, where Celaena, an assassin, becomes friends with a prince and the captain of the guard.

2. Assassins

Speaking of assassins… anything to do with them. Although I suppose it’s more of admiration of extremely skilled fighters. And the costumes. Yeah. There’s a reason I’ve been obsessively playing Assassin’s Creed lately (not that it really comes under the fantasy category unless you make an argument for the Animus?), and I’ve lost count of how many times I’ve watched the Unity trailer…

3. Archers & bowmen

This is for the same reason as assassins really, I’m in awe of anyone skilled with a bow. There’s been a big surge of interest in archery lately, due to films and books like Brave, The Hunger Games and Hawkeye in The Avengers. I always wanted to join the archery club at uni, but you spent most of your time waiting around for a turn at shooting, so I never bothered. Maybe this year?

Isolde (Neverwinter)
There’s a reason I always make archer characters in games…

4. Magic systems that demand sacrifice

Don’t get me wrong, I still love the magic in Harry Potter. But I also love it when a magic system demands that the user sacrifices something, so that magic doesn’t seem too easy or simple. It requires work and dedication. Examples of this are The Name of the Wind (Kingkiller Chronicle #1) by Patrick Rothfuss and The Final Empire (Mistborn #1) by Brandon Sanderson. In both of these series, the magic user must sacrifice energy and health in order to use magic. Prolonged usage without a break is not an option, which feels more ‘realistic’ to me – despite the fact that it’s magic!

5. Guilds

Maybe I’m thinking back to my MMO days, but I love guilds in fantasy. Groups of people with similar interests or skills, often those who have lost all their family and friends, so the guild becomes their new family. Whether it’s a thieves guild, an assassin’s guild or a simple merchants guild, there’s a real sense of camaraderie. It’s probably more to do with how guilds made me feel on MMOs (well, Dream of Mirror Online more than any other), but they sort of give me the warm fuzzies. Yes, even those guilds full of heartless assassins.

6. Non-human MCs

It’s fantasy fiction! Why write about humans if you don’t have to?? If you’re going to be exposed to all these different fictional races and cultures in fantasy, why not see it through the eyes of one of them? It’s a much more immersive way to learn about them – for example, seeing The Hobbit through Bilbo’s eyes.

How about you – what are your favourite elements of fantasy fiction?

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday #12: Why The Lord Of The Rings Is ‘My Precious…’

Fantasy Friday

Fantasy Friday is my own feature, posted every other Friday. It’s pretty self-explanatory: I do a feature on something to do with the genre. Sometimes it will be a book recommendation, sometimes showcasing a book or series I’ve loved and other times it might be a discussion post. You’re more than welcome to join in with this feature, let me know if you make your own Fantasy Friday post!

Today I want to talk about: my love for The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien.

When I was ten years old, I picked up this huge fantasy book that I’d never read before. I was (and still am… obviously) an avid devourer of fantasy fiction, and here was one I hadn’t yet read! It was written by the same author who wrote The Hobbit – I’d read that a few years before and loved it. I’d also heard there was a film version of it coming out next year, and it’s always more fun to read the book first. That book was J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings, and it changed my life.

It wasn’t long before I’d finished all three books, and I was obsessed. It didn’t really help that the films were coming out soon, which meant there was merchandise EVERYWHERE. I bought countless movie guides, guides to Tolkien, books about Tolkien himself, art books, the video games, posters, trading cards, figures… I even had one of those huge cardboard promotional cutouts. Seriously. My local video shop sold off cutouts and posters so I ended up coming home with a Two Towers one, which took up the majority of my tiny bedroom at the time. Totally worth it. I did tons of fanart (a lot of which I still have), I learnt to write ‘like a hobbit’, I tried (and failed) to learn Sindarin, I ran several different Lord of the Rings websites and fanlistings. I didn’t hide my love for it either, everyone at school knew my obsession. Sometimes I felt that it alienated me from others and that they looked down on me for being so passionate, but eh.

Pretty much how I felt when being judged by my peers. (image source)

It’s difficult to give a toss about how people perceive you for liking something, when that something is so important to you. Reading, particularly the fantasy genre, has always been a HUGE part of my life. From a young age I was encouraged to read: to my parents, by myself, before bed, whenever I could. The Lord of the Rings only made me delve deeper into the fantasy genre, and I have so much to thank it for.

I know it doesn’t appeal to everyone. Tolkien’s language is old-fashioned, but that’s what I LOVE about it. I love the archaic words, the feeling that somehow this could have been our past in an alternate universe, the hobbits and their country bumpkin lifestyle – it sounds pretty idyllic. It’s a tale with unlikely heroes: within the Fellowship we’ve got an heir to the throne of Gondor, the Gondorian Steward’s son, an Elven prince, an Istari (or wizard), a Dwarven warrior (who is of the royal line, however distant) – and four hobbits. Two of which prove to be the strongest of them all, and we can’t forget what Merry and Pippin went through either.

Growing up is tough, guys. (image source)

Tolkien turned the traditional ‘epic quest’ tale on its head when he made his bumbling country folk – who’d normally rather spend the day fishing or farming, followed by an evening with a mug of ale – the true heroes. Despite the fact that Frodo and Sam’s journey to Mount Doom will most likely kill them and their chances of ever seeing the Shire again are slim, they carry on. That very thought of their beautiful home pushes them through. The message is clear: it’s not who you are that matters, it’s what you do. You don’t need to be the long lost heir to the throne, a rich prince or a grizzled warrior to have an impact. It’s essentially, when stripped to the bare bones, a story of good overcoming evil and how even the littlest person can change the future. To me, it also speaks of overcoming prejudices: it’s well known that elves and dwarves do not get along. But Legolas and Gimli end up forging a strong friendship, although they were distrusting of each other at first. There’s so much more within the books than a tale of nine people going on a long and arduous journey.

But you know what impresses me even more than the positive message Tolkien sends out through The Lord of the Rings? His sheer and utter dedication to thoroughly creating the world of Middle-earth. He invented entire languages, and not just the words and sentences he used in the books, but an entire new vocabulary and syntax. A whole history of Middle-earth was written, cultures and peoples that the reader barely catches a glimpse or even mention of were created. Inspired by myths and legends of other cultures, Tolkien sculpted this beautiful world that feels so real to me. I’m pretty heartbroken that I can’t just move to Middle-earth, to be honest.

To round it all up, The Lord of the Rings is a series that breaks my heart – in the very best way – yet simultaneously every time I read the books I feel like I’m at home. There just isn’t another like it.

(image source)

If you didn’t see it last month, I was also interviewed at Pages Unbound as part of Tolkien Week.