June 20, 2017 (June 20, 3018)

Plans are set in motion for the fall

Shire Reckoning: June 20, 3018 (Forelithe 20, 1418)

Pages To Read:
-FR.ThreeIsCompany “One summer’s evening” (~p.2) – “going back would at least seem credible” (~p.3)

-Frodo announces he is selling Bag End!
-People suspect Gandalf of cooking up some evil plot (because Hobbits are ridiculous)

Elsewhere in Middle Earth:
-From The Tale of Years: “Jun 20: Sauron attacks Osgiliath. About the same time Thranduil is attacked, and Gollum escapes.”
-Stained glass art of the attack on Osgiliath, by Verdego. (If you don’t know what Osgiliath is, don’t worry: we’ll cover the history of Gondor later this summer!)
Boromir riding to retake Osgiliath, by Nordheimer.

Links to Other Content:
Anime-style art of our four Hobbit protagonists, by M-azuma.
Green Hill Country, by Ted Nasmith. Beautiful painting by the master showing some of our hobbits wandering through the Shire (perhaps on a camping trip…)

Notes: Sorry for the delay – moving in to a new apartment is hard work. Not to spoil anything but Gandalf’s time in the Shire is nearing its end… almost time to leave! ~Tom

May 29, 2017

Second Age “Week” – Second Age Timeline

Pages To Read:
-RK.AppB “The First Age ended with the Great Battle” (p.1) – “The Second Age ends” (~p.3)

– This timeline in ‘The Tale of Years’ summarizes every major event in The Second Age in about the briefest form possible, so if you’re interested… just read it.

– Thranduil gets a shoutout – apparently he set up his realm in Greenwood The Great in the beginning of the second age. (You may remember Thranduil as the Elvenking from The Hobbit)
– Elros (first king of Númenor, brother of Elrond) lives for 442 years. To be fair, the rest of the Númenóreans were not this long-lived but wow.
– The origins of the Rings of Power are told in brief (entries 1500, 1600, 1693). We’ll hear more about this later.

– Great summary vid of the background of Númenor (Part 1, Part 2), by CivilizationEx. CivEx has an amazing LOTR video series, which covers big topics like Númenor, but also specific things like the role Eagles have in Middle Earth. Their videos feature good pronunciation and accurate details as far as I can tell; I’ll link to several as LOTRRA continues. Although most of the time I recommend reading actual Tolkien text, I think it’s fair to substitute the Appendix material about the Second Age with watching these vids.
Sacrifice, by MirachRavaia. Really cool watercolor of Ar-Pharazôn worshipping Melkor after the arrival of Sauron. (Remember Ar-Pharazôn was the last king who stupidly listened to Sauron and then got Númenor destroyed)

Notes: Wasn’t my intention to drag the Second Age info on for more than a week, but I got distracted with, you know, life and stuff. Anyway, here’s the final update of Second Age “Week.” There’s not going to be much during the next few weeks, I’ll pick back up in the Shire on June 17th so look forward to that. ~Tom

May 25, 2017

Second Age week art – scenes of Númenor

Featured Artist: MatejCadil (Matěj Čadil)
– Amazing Czech artist who does a ton of Tolkien-inspired pieces. You will see his work frequently throughout LOTRRA. (Website: http://www.angrenost.cz/angrenost.php )
– For today’s art, I bring you three scenes from around Númenor, to help give a sense of what the race of Men had and what they lost.

Elves in Andúnië. Elves frequented this harbor on the west of the island before the Númenoreans started antagonizing the immortals.
Nisimaldar. This was a beautiful wood where Mallorn trees (from Lórien in Middle Earth) grew.
Noirinan. The Valley of the Tombs, which held the resting places of the kings and queens of Númenor, was an important part of the island’s culture and lay underneath the mountain at the center of the island.

Notes: Hope you enjoy Matěj Čadil’s great art, tomorrow I’ll have some maps to give an overview of Númenor. ~Tom

May 23, 2017

Second age week – art

The Queens of Númenor, by shyangell. Beautiful five-panel art of the four queens of Númenor as well as the Princess Silmariën. Little was written about the first four women, other then their names and years of rule. On the far right is Tar-Míriel who got screwed over by her cousin Ar-Pharazôn who as we covered yesterday was a huge jerk and sorta got Númenor destroyed.
As Little Might Be Thought, by Jenny Dolfen. Absolutely adorable painting of Elrond and Elros as children, with their caretaker Maglor (as well as Maedhros). Maglor and Maedhros have complicated backstories: basically they did a lot of bad stuff but Maglor softened up when little Elrond and Elros ended up in his care (after their father was forced to leave Middle Earth and beg for divine intervention).

Trivia I forgot to include yesterday:
– Númenor was also called Atalantë (“The Downfallen”), suggesting the inspiration for the story (Atlantis).
– Elrond from the Hobbit was originally just named after Elrond from the Second Age, but then Tolkien figured it just worked so he made them the same elf.

Notes: Only two pieces of art today, but they are both amazing… and I remembered to properly link them this time! I wish Tolkien had written more about both: it’d be super cool to hear about Númenor under female rule and who wouldn’t love Elrond as a little kid?? ~Tom

May 22, 2017

Second Age Week!

Pages To Read:
-RK.AppA “The sons of Eärendil were Elros and Elrond” (~p.2) – “so ended the second age” (~p.5)

Events: (There’s a lot. To be fair this is a summary of 3500 years of history)
– (Remember Eärendil is the half-elf half-man that saved the day at the end of the First Age, then became a star in the sky)
– At the beginning of the Second Age, Eärendil’s sons Elrond and Elros get to choose between being Men and Elves. Elrond chooses to be counted as an elf, and becomes a lord of the Eldar in Middle Earth (You may remember him from the Hobbit). It’s important to remember his children also will get the choice whether or not to be mortal. Elros meanwhile chooses to be counted a man, and lives his (long) mortal life as the first king of Númenor.
– Númenor is a sweet island in the middle of the sea that is given to the Edain (Men) as a reward for being faithful to the Valar. It gets them closer to Valinor (the Undying Lands), but they are forbidden from actually going there because they have to, you know, die. You can see where this is going.
– After many generations, the Númenoreans get jealous of the Elves’ immortality. They also start to terrorize the ‘lesser’ Men who live back in Middle Earth. Colonialism sucks people.
– At some point Ar-Pharazôn (i.e. last king of Númenor and massive prick) personally goes to Middle Earth and defeats Sauron, who apparently had gained enough power to be a threat. However, Sauron is tricky, fakes repentance, and gets taken as a prisoner to Númenor. You can again probably see where is this going.
– Sauron basically fuels the entire island (except for some faithful peeps like Elendil) into hatred of the Valar. Ar-Pharazôn leads a fleet into the land of the gods expecting to somehow accomplish something, and the Valar respond (calling upon Eru a.k.a. God) and literally ‘change the world.’ Númenor sinks, the world is made round, and Valinor gets lifted sort of into a different dimension (it’s complicated).
– Elendil and some followers (who survive the apocalypse that killed most Númenoreans and hopefully but probably not Sauron) sail back to Middle Earth and establish Arnor and Gondor.
– Sauron’s spirit survives (although he’s now super ugly forever) and he comes back. Needless to say he’s a bit peeved when he finds out his enemy Elendil is ruling a kingdom right on the border of Mordor. Sauron attacks too early though, and Elendil is able to defeat him via the Last Alliance. (We’ll hear lots more about this later).
– “So ended the Second Age.”

Links to Other Content:
Elenna, by Qitian – great watercolor of the Edain sailing to their new home
The Drowning of Númenor, by John Howe: classic Tolkien illustrator

Notes: Sorry for the exorbitant amount of detail above, I tried to be as concise as possible but hit all the main points. I would recommend reading this section of Appendix A, it’s got some good bearing on LOTR. (The corresponding chapter ‘Akallabêth’ in The Silmarillion is really good too) Anyway to celebrate the crazy drama that is the Second Age, I’ll have some art during the week and we’ll finish up with the timeline. After that we’ll have a break then go back to the Shire. ~Tom

May 12, 2017

First Age Week: more art + characters to remember

Beren and Luthien in the Court of Thingol + Melian, by DonatoArts (featured). Absolutely gorgeous and humongous painting of the scene. The story of Beren and Lúthien is perhaps one of the most popular from the First Age, telling the epic romance of an elf-maiden who fell in love with a Man. Together they steal a Silmaril literally out of Morgoth’s crown, and Lúthien ultimately gives up her immortality to be with Beren. I would highly recommend reading about the story of Beren and Lúthien, as they will be referenced quite frequently in LOTR, unlike many of the other First Age characters.

Beautiful sketch of Lúthien dancing in the woods, by Ephaistien

Set of mystical illustrations of the Ainur, by Rysowania. The Ainur, of whom the Valar were the greatest, are the ‘gods’ of Middle Earth, although by the Third Age they have mostly stopped interfering with the lives of Men and Elves. Of special note is Varda, who created the stars, which were the first illumination in Middle Earth. Varda (also known as Elbereth Gilthoniel) is the most revered of the Valar by Elves, as we will see in LOTR. Her husband was Manwë, the lord of the Valar, who controls the winds and the sky.

Intriguing portrayal of Manwë and Varda, by MatsumotoSensei. This artist has a ton of cool Silmarillion-inspired art, definitely check them out. (side note: this specific art actually was actually the design for a super cool cosplay of Manwe and Varda)

Notes: Almost to the end of First Age Week, hope you all have been enjoying this look back into the ancient myths of Middle Earth. Main takeaway from today is to remember who Lúthien and Varda are! ~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