August 20, 2017 (August 18, 3018)

Summer passes in the Shire

Shire Reckoning: August 18, 3018 (Wedmath 18, 1419)

Page To Read:
-FR.ThreeIsCompany “The Shire had seldom seen so fair a summer, or so rich an autumn: the tress were laden with apples, honey was dripping in the combs, and the corn was tall and full” (~p.3)

– Summer passes in the Shire! Frodo & co. are (still) just hanging out, unaware of Gandalf’s plight. As far as they know, he’s still set to come back before they leave in the fall.


Links to Other Content:
Apples, by s-u-w-i. Adorable picture of Merry and Pippin!
Blackberry Tart recipe, by Feast of Starlight. We haven’t technically reached the Prancing Pony yet, but there won’t be time to focus on a fun Shire-themed recipe when we do! This tart looks amazing, I really want to try and make it. In fact I just might…

Notes: Not much to say; Tolkien only gives us basically one sentence to describe the Hobbits’ summer. There’s a little bit more background info to cover, and then the real adventure starts around September 15. ~Tom

August 15, 2017

Interesting Maps

For today I have some interesting maps by the one and only Karen Wynn Fonstad. I talked about her in a previous update; she wrote the legendary Atlas of Middle Earth and is a top notch illustrator. Hidden in there are some really unique maps, such as these:
Bio Map – shows the major plant type in each area
Climate Map – includes local climate type as well as ocean and wind currents
Geo Map – notes major geologic features across Middle Earth

Notes: If you’ve been following along events on the map of Middle Earth (as you should be!) these can be fun to check out details of each area. The great thing about Fonstad maps is that she was super careful to only include details that were super canon so there’s no confusion with non-canon material. (Lots of fan-made maps include original additions or stuff from Lord of the Rings Online, a video game, to flesh it out). ~Tom

August 9, 2017 (August 7, 3018)

The Hunt For Gollum

Shire Reckoning: August 7, TA 3018 (Wedmath 7, 1419)

Fan movie: The Hunt For Gollum!
– Remember the movie I sent out a few weeks ago about Aragorn’s dad that you all (hopefully) enjoyed so much? Turns not that’s not the only low-budget high-quality fan-made prequel out there!! The Hunt for Gollum is another amazing one, released earlier in the same year (2009) as Born of Hope. Chris Bouchard directs and Adrian Webster stars. Read the full story of wikipedia.
– I honestly enjoy this one even more, and it’s shorter so it’s easier to watch in one go. The story follows Aragorn as he hunts down Gollum in the summer of TA 3017 (“last year”, hence why Gandalf is still around). Have fun watching this exciting, spooky movie and be sure to compare with the entries in the Tale of Years from the last reading! ~Tom

August 7, 2017

The Tale of Years, Third Age up to 3017

Pages To Read:
-RK.AppB “These were the fading years of the Eldar” (~p.3) – “Gandalf visits Minas Tirith and reads the scroll of Isildur” (~p.9)

– List of literally everything that has happened since the end of the Second Age, when Sauron was first defeated. I could list them all here, but that seems a bit redundant…

Links to Other Content:
Imprisoned, by LiigaKlavina. Way back on July 24 I described how Celebrían (Elrond’s wife) was captured, tortured, and eventually rescued mid-Third Age. It’s in the text again today; here’s a haunting picture of Celebrían in captivity.
Mist Over Mirkwood, by Miruna-Lavinia. Great painting of Dol Guldur in Mirkwood by one of my favorite artists.
Dol Guldur, by Angus McBride. Old painting of Gandalf, Saruman, Galadriel, and Co. going to drive the Necromancer from Dol Guldur. Remember this was before Saruman turned selfish and evil.

Notes: Obviously a huge amount of detail in the Tale of Years, but it’s good to at least skim it to get a sense of the huge time span that has passed since the beginning of the Third Age. Also good to bookmark this section for reference later. ~Tom

August 4, 2017

Assorted content

Links to Other Content:
– CivEx focus: Witch-King of Angmar. Great summary video of the history of the Witch-King. Note: MAJOR spoilers after 3:15, so just be careful to stop when you get to Frodo if you haven't read LOTR yet.
Realms in Exile map, by (Tyler? not exactly sure how I found this.) Cute little maps showing the evolution of the realms of exiled Númenóreans. One of the few maps I've seen which show Arthedain, Cardolan, and Rhudaur.
Sauron, by NeilMcClements. Somewhat terrifying depiction of Sauron – just to remind us of what Frodo is up against.

– There’s an entry in the Tale of Years for around this time:
'All trace of Gollum is lost. It is thought that at about this time, being hunted both by the Elves and Sauron's servants, he took refuge in Moria; but when he had at last discovered the way to the West-gate he could not get out.'

Notes: There'll be some more content about the Third Age next week, then some more appendix content. About a month left until Frodo (finally) leaves the Shire. ~Tom

July 31, 2017

Of the Stewards

Pages To Read:
-RKAppA section I.iv “The House of the Stewards was called” (~p.20) – “but of all that befell these three in the War of the Ring much is said elsewhere” (~p.25)

– After the line of Kings was broken, the Stewards ruled Gondor. They held all the power of Kings, despite not actually sitting on the physical throne.
– During the Watchful Peace, there was relative stability, but during the rule of Denethor I there was increased activity from Mordor (~500 years pre-LOTR).
– Denethor I had a son named Boromir who was so badass that even the Witch-King feared him.
– After Boromir’s death, Cirion takes over Gondor and establishes Rohan! (Specifically he almost gets his ass kicked at the Battle of the Field of Celebrant until the Rohirrim show up and save the day. Cirion then gives them some land. More info here)
– Bad stuff continues to happen to Gondor up through Ecthelion’s rule. He was assisted by the mysterious Thorongil, who often counseled Ecthelion to trust Gandalf as opposed to Saruman.
– Ecthelion’s son, Denethor II takes over some years prior to LOTR and continues to work on Gondor’s defenses. He is suspicious of all other anti-Sauron forces due to his extensive use of the palantír
– Boromir, his son (yes, named after the previous Boromir) is super heroic. Faramir, the second son, is more compassionate but still a great dude.

Trivia, Quotes, and Details:
– Major foreshadowing for Boromir, Faramir, and Denethor, so pay attention to their mentions today.

Links to Other Content:
Earnur and Mardil, by Oznerol-1516. Mardil was the first Steward
The Stewards of Gondor, by enanoakd. Great graphic showing the line of Stewards, with nice historical summaries along the side. Some spoilers at the bottom about Faramir and Boromir, so be warned.

Notes: Fourth and final part of History of Gondor! Lots of details about the terrible gauntlet Gondor has to suffer pre-LOTR. Sorry for the formatting fail on the past few emails, should be all better now. ~Tom

July 30, 2017

Of the end of the line of Kings

Pages To Read:
-RKAppA section I.iv “The third evil was the invasion of the Wainriders” (~p.16) – “Houses of the Dead, where Eärnur had left it” (~p.20)

– The invasion of the Wainriders from the east further weakens Gondor. It is revealed that Suaron had agitated them into attacking.
– The Wainriders’ attack was coordinated with the renewed attack from Angmar in the north, so the Northern and Southern kingdoms were not able to help each other out.
– Arvedui (remember him? – the last king in the north) tries to claim the throne after the Wainriders are defeated but his claim is ignored and the war hero Eärnil takes the throne instead.
– Eärnur, his son, takes a fleet north but is too late to save Arvedui from dying and Arnor falling to Angmar. However, allying themselves with Círdan the elven ship-king of Lindon, they ride to Fornost to challenge the Witch-King. In arrogance, the Witch-King rides forth but is utterly routed by the combined forces of Lindon, Gondor, Rivendell (led by Glorfindel) and survivors from Arnor.
– After every single orc and evil man of Angmar are slain, the Witch-King freaks everyone out with his screech and laugh, then disappears into the night.
– Glorfindel fortells that the Witch-King will not fall by the hand of man.
– The Witch-King gathers the forces of the Nine in Mordor and takes Minas Ithil years later in TA 2000, and renames it Minas Morgul. When Eärnur becomes king, the Witch-King challenges him to single combat, taunting him about their previous confrontation in the North (when he basically just screeched at Eärnur). After a second challenge, Eärnur can’t resist, rides to Minas Morgul, and is never heard from again.
– In his absence, a suitable king cannot be found, and the Stewards just kinda keep reigning indefinantly.

Trivia, Quotes, and Details:
– Witch-King is a scary dude

Links to Other Content:
– Arvedui, by steamey. The last king of Arnor either shortly before or after his defeat at Fornost
– Minas Ithil (later Minas Morgul), by LePtitSuisse1912. Beautiful drawing of Minas Ithil, the twin city to Minas Arnor (Minas Tirith), across the river.
– Battle of Fornost, by Tulikoura (featured). Fabulous drawing of the Witch-King being defeated at Fornost
– The Witch-King of Angmar, by peet.
– Carn Dûm, by Ilya Nazarov. Really cool digital art of the capital of Angmar, main fortress of the Witch-King.

Notes: History of Gondor, pt 3. I would definitely check this part out, because it’s great to see the Witch-King be scary as context for when he appears in LOTR. Sidenote: fourth and final part of History of Gondor may be delayed a day or so. ~Tom

July 29, 2017

Of the Great Plague

Pages To Read:
-RKAppA section I.iv “The second and greatest evil” (~p.16) – “fell into the hands of the Men of the Harad” (~p.16)

– A great plague swept through Gondor around TA 1636, killing the king and all his children.
– Tarondor, nephew and successor of the late King Telemnar, restored the White Tree to Minas Arnor and moved the king’s house permanently there.

Trivia, Quotes, and Details:
– Now the kings ruled from Minas Arnor, which would later be renamed Minas Tirith. This was a city to the west of the Anduin, near Osgiliath. MAY go on to be real important in LOTR. We’ll see…

Links to Other Content:
– Dark Plague Hits Gondor by ancaxbre. Spooky black-and-white drawing of the White Tree dying

Notes: Gondor history, part 2. Funny note by the artist on the picture above: “Now we shall all be grateful that extremely effective evil plans can only be successfully used once in fantasy, or the war of the ring would have been a lot more different if Sauron had another plague up his sleeve.” ~Tom

July 28, 2017

Of Gondor and the Heirs of Anárion (1)

Pages To Read:
-RKAppA section I.iv “There were thirty-one kings in Gondor after Anárion” (~p.12) – “fifty-eight years, of which ten were spent in exile” (~p.16)

– Gondor was the southern kingdom, established by Anárion after the defeat of Sauron at the end of the Second Age (Elendil was dead, Isildur founded Arnor in the north). Their power increased for about 1100 years, up through the reign of the ‘Ship Kings.’ Gondor’s territory spread across the southern sector of Middle Earth, and they kept a watch over Mordor. At several points they even controlled Umbar, a region to the south that was often in held in contention with Men of the Harad.
– The first evil that befell Gondor was a kinstrife during the reign of Eldacar (TA 1432-1490). Due to his foreign mother, there was an uprising against him led by Castamir who brutally took over Osgiliath. However, he turned out to be a terrible king and Eldacar returned and retook the throne with the help of the Northmen (who had been the people of his mother).
– After the death of huge numbers of pureblood Gondorians in this fighting, there was increased intermarriage with “lesser” Men. This (combined with the slow fading of Númenor’s original blessing) led to a decreasing lifespan for the kings of Gondor.

Trivia, Quotes, and Details:
– We get a nice preview of the whole “pureblood Númenórean” ideology today. It’s not quite as terrible as Harry Potter’s pureblood wizard thing, because the people of Númenor were quite literally physically superior and lots of the ‘lesser men’ had chosen to side with Sauron at some point or another. But I mean, it’s still kinda weird and there’s some great imperialism stuff going on. It’s not as bad I guess when you remember that literally every fantasy story ever has included some sort of romanticized view of royalty and royal descent. (see The Princess Diaries…)
– Still gotta love Valacar who falls in love with a foreigner during a political visit and actually marries her. Then his son Eldacar turns out to be proud of his heritage and defeats the awful Castamir with help from his mother’s people.
– The kings originally ruled from Osgiliath, the city on the river.

Links to Other Content:
– The Long Winter by woutart (featured). Depiction of the Northmen (Eldacar’s people)
– Anárion of Osgiliath, by gottlieb-nachtigal. The first king of Gondor

Notes: Start of the brief history of Gondor today. More to follow tomorrow. ~Tom