May 11, 2017

First Age Week: music

Got a great album for you today: “Beyond The Western Seas” by The Lonely Mountain Band. LMB is a great band (self-described as Celtic Rock) who have several albums with Tolkien-inspired music. The album for today has tracks inspired by lots of stuff from the First Age – I particularly like the atmospheric track ‘Cuiviénen’ (i.e. the place where Elves first awoke). You can stream the whole thing from Bandcamp, or purchase it to support the band. Enjoy! ~Tom

May 10, 2018

First Age Week: Túrin Turambar (art)

Túrin Turambar, tragic hero of the first age, by LiigaKlavina
Beleg Cúthalion, Túrin’s bff who was also super cool, by BrokenMachine86

Notes: Túrin was one of the major characters in the first age. Morgoth (the super bad evil guy) basically put a curse on his family and a bunch of really sad stuff kept happening to him despite his best efforts. He ended up slaying Glaurung (the first dragon) but also marrying his sister, killing his friend, and lots of other sad/weird stuff. Christopher Tolkien compiled several versions of the story into a full length book called “Children of Húrin” which is the closest thing we’ll ever get to another authentic Tolkien novel. There’s also an audiobook version read by Christopher Lee so that’s super cool (check out a sample here). ~Tom

May 9, 2018

First Age Week: Art

– (Featured) really cool depiction of Aulë and Yavanna, by KisTithen. Yavanna created the Two Trees; Aulë was her husband who we’ll read about Aulë eventually (he created Dwarves).
Compilation of art by Righon. Tons of characters (mostly elves) from the first age, illustrated beautifully.
The Curse of Mandos, by Belegilgalad. This was referred to in AppA, when Tolkien says “Against the will of the Valar Fëanor forsook the Blessed Realm and went in exile to Middle-Earth.” Mandos appeared as the elves were leaving to warn them of the grief and sorrow that would come of returning to Middle Earth.


May 8, 2017

Of the First Age

Pages To Read:
-RK.AppA “Fëanor was the greatest” (~p.1) – “is told in The Silmarillion” (~p.2)

– An amazingly short summary of the First Age is given.

Quick Summary of Important Terms/Names (links to Tolkien Gateway)
– Eldar = elves who went to Valinor, the land of the Valar
Morgoth = super evil bad guy who basically created all strife in the world
Two Trees = predecessor of the Sun and Moon, destroyed by Morgoth
Fëanor = badass elf who created the Silmarils: jewels which contained the light of the Two Trees
– Edain = Men* who made friends with the Eldar when they came back from Valinor and helped in the fight against Morgoth

Links to Other Content:
The Silmarillion in Three Minutes, amazing if somewhat exhausting trip through the First Age in 3 minutes by JP Kloess
Gondolin, by the illustrious Miruna-Lavinia. This secret city was the last stronghold of Elves before it was destroyed; Eärendil was born here.
Eärdendil the Mariner, by kimberly80. Eärendil was essentially the savior of the Eldar. He sailed to Valinor with a Silmaril and due to his pleas for help, the Valar came back and kicked Morgoth’s butt at the end of the First Age.
Ancalagon Rises, by TurnerMohan. Ancalagon was the largest dragon, created by Morgoth and defeated by Eärdendil. Not strictly mentioned in the text, but too awesome to leave out.

*despite my urge to correct Tolkien and use ‘Humans,’ I will stick with his naming convention and use the slightly sexist term ‘Men’ to refer to humans (in contrast with elves and dwarves).

I’ll cover the big stories mentioned in the next few days. If you’d like to hear more about the crazy stuff that went down in the First Age, check out the video above, or read some passages from the Silmarillion itself! A few chapters I love are 9, 23, and 24, as well as the Ainulindalë. Of course it’s all super dense and full of names you don’t really need for LOTR, but if you want to be a super fan like me check it out! ~Tom

May 7, 2018

Intro to the Appendix A, kicking off FIRST AGE WEEK

Pages To Read:
-RK.AppendixA: “Concerning the sources” (p.1) – “the event is not always included” (~p.1)
**every reading from the Appendices may contain spoilers to some degree

– Short introduction to the information in the appendices.

Trivia, Quotes, and Details:
– When Lord of the Rings was first published there were no other sources in which one could find the ‘extensive’ legends, histories, and lore referred to. Tolkien originally planned to have these stories, which he viewed as his opus, published as The Silmarillion. However, there was never a time where both he and the publisher were satisfied with the book before he died, so his son compiled, edited, and published the book four years after his death.
– The First Age really is ancient. As we will see with the Tale of Years, the First Age ended nearly 6500 years before the beginning of LOTR, which as you remember is Third Age 3018. (The Second Age was nearly 3500 years long).

Links to Other Content:
A cool blog, with a fun concept of how to make the stories from the first age into a multi-season TV show.

Notes: Of course, any serious Tolkien fan should get around to reading The Silmarillion at some point, but I think reading the appendices will give a fun and brief introduction to the material.

Here’s an outline for the rest of the summer: This week we will look at the (admittedly small) section about the First Age, then after a break we will look at the Second Age, which does has more to do with LOTR. Then we will return to The Shire to read about Gandalf’s departure and travels. Starting at the end of July we will cover the appendix material that has to do with the Third Age, up until mid September when the main events start. ~Tom

May 1, 2017 (April 30, 3018)

Gandalf encourages Frodo to leave

Shire Reckoning: Astron 30, 1419

Pages To Read:
FR.ThreeIsCompany (start) – “Fair Folk still dwelt in peace” (~p.2)

– Gandalf tells Frodo that he must leave soon in secret. Frodo decides that it will be on his and Bilbo’s birthday (aka September 22)
– Gandalf recommends Frodo to set his course for Rivendell. Frodo knows Sam will be delighted and feels rather excited himself.

Trivia, Quotes, and Details:
– “‘And see that Sam Gamgee does not talk. If he does, I really shall turn him into a toad.'” What a crabby wizard…


Notes: Gandalf has such bad timing. “Hi Frodo did you know you’re holding the single most deadly and powerful weapon in Middle Earth? Just hold on to it for the summer while the enemies of all that is good and take their time searching for you. As long as you leave within like 5 months you should be good.” Oh Gandalf. ~Tom

April 29, 2017

Short update

Just a short update today to keep y’all in the loop: on Monday we’ll have a few pages to catch up with Frodo in the Shire. Next weekend will also be exciting as we start our (somewhat) in-depth look at the appendices!!

Links to Other Content: today’s art is a set of illustrations for LOTR, one per chapter. Obviously if you look past #2 there will be lots of spoilers, so be warned hahaha


April 25, 2017

Some instrumental music

Today I’ve just got a few instrumental pieces of music to share:

“Gandalf” from Johan de Meij’s Symphony No. 1. This 1988 symphony is thematically based on LOTR, and it is one of the most well-known pieces of music based on the book. Over the course of LOTRRA, I’ll link to all five movements of the symphony, today’s is the first movement which is a nice exciting piece entitled Gandalf (The Wizard). Definitely give it a listen, even if you don’t usually like classical music!

– If you like jazz better, I have another piece by John Sangster Orchestra, called “Longbottom Leaf.” Chose this one for today not only in honor of the recent 4/20, but also for the part of the prologue we read about pipeweed.


Notes: Have a great day! Relax, listen to a bit of music, and just chill like Frodo’s doing right now. ~Tom

April 22, 2017

Frodo hangs around the Shire – art day

Have two lovely pieces by BohemianWeasel today:
illustration of the famous quote from Shadow Of The Past. “All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”
Frodo and Sam sitting on a little bridge in the Shire

Also have another enchanting Joe Gilronan piece:
Evening Walk – Features our Hobbits hanging out around Bag End under the watchful eye of Gandalf.

Notes: The Joe Gilronan piece is very accurate to what’s going on in the Shire “right now.” After Shadow Of The Past, Gandalf sticks around for quite a while, as we shall see when we read some more (May 1st). ~Tom