February 16, 2018 (February 16, 3019)

Farewell to Lórien

Shire Reckoning: February 16, 3019 (Solmath 16, 1420)

Pages to read:
– FR.FarewellToLorien “In the morning, as they were beginning to pack” (~p.3) – (end)

Music (all by The Tolkien Ensemble):
Galadriel’s Song of Eldamar (I) (‘I sang of leaves, of leaves of gold…’)
Galadriel’s Song of Eldamar (II) (‘Namárië…’)
Galadriel’s Song of Eldamar (II), translated. (‘Farewell…’)

– In the morning, some elves help the Company pack up and give them some supplies for the road. The food is mostly lembas bread, a special elven bread that travels well. Gimli at first thinks it is the gross cram that Men make, but he is pleasantly surprised by the sweet taste. It is reported that “‘One [lembas cake] will keep a traveller on his feet for a day of long labour, even if he be one of the tall Men of Minas Tirith.’
– After the food delivery, the elves also give a hood and cloak (made in the style of the Galadhrim) to each of the members. They appeared grey but shimmered with a green hue, and were fastened with a green leaf-shaped brooch. The elves suggest that while they have no inherent magic, the cloaks will be good for camouflage, especially from unfriendly eyes.
– After short morning march (just ten miles…), the Company comes out into a beautiful field where the Silverload river flows into the Anduin.
– At the edge of the river, they find three small grey boats loaded with supplies that they will ride on. Sam discovers some rope, calling back to weeks ago where he was distraught that he had forgotten to bring rope in his backpack.
– Aragorn, Frodo, and Sam took the first book, while Boromir, Merry, and Pippin took the second. Gimli and Legolas took the third boat, having become good friends by this point.
– The company takes the boats out for a test ride. Galadriel and Celeborn then arrive, riding in a majestic swan-shaped boat. Galadriel is singing a song (see first song above).
– Galadriel and Celeborn invite the Company to a farewell feast. Celeborn describes the path ahead. The Company is to take the River south to falls of Rauros, then either go west to Gondor (through Rohan), or east to Mordor (through the Emyn Muil).
– After the feast, Galadriel offers a toast to the Company and brings forth gifts for each of the members.
– For Aragorn: a fancy sheath for his sword, as well as a green gemstone. This was a gem that Galadriel passed to her daughter Celebrían, the mother of Arwen. (Yes, Galadriel is Elrond’s mother-in-law).
– For Boromir: a belt of gold. (The lamest of the gifts if you ask me)
– For Merry & Pippin: small silver belts. (Ditto)
– For Legolas: a long bow and a quiver of arrows. (Fitting, I suppose.)
– For Sam: a small box containing soil from Lórien. (The idea being he can make a garden flourish even if he finds the Shire laid to waste like in his vision.)
– For Gimli: three strands of her hair. (She asks him what he wants, as she is unsure what a dwarf could want from an elf-queen. He praises her highly and humbly asks for a strand of hair to treasure and remember her by. The elves are astonished and she cuts off three for him. Obviously the most memorable of the gifts.)
– For Frodo: a phial containing water from her fountain and the light of Ëardendil’s star. (Spoiler but… the most plot-impactful of the gifts.)
– After the gift-giving, the Company takes their places in the boats and ready for departure. As they slip into the river and start floating away from Lórien, Galadriel sings a final song in farewell. (See songs above.)
– Suddenly the Company rounds a bend and Lórien vanishes. Tolkien notes that Frodo would never return.
– Gimli is greatly saddened by the departure from the beautiful Lórien and Galadriel in particular. Legolas tries to comfort him.
– The Company continues down the river for the rest of the day and into the night. Bare, silent woods line the banks, and the weather is cold and dreary (it is, in fact, winter). Frodo eventually falls into an uneasy sleep.

– Of all the implausible things in LOTR to call out, lembas is a fan favorite. It really is quite impressive that a small cake could have enough calories to sustain a full day’s march and still taste quite delicious.
– The cloaks gifted to the Company here of course made excellent costume designs in the PJ movies, with the leaf-brooch being one of the more memorable props if you ask me.
– The Anduin (the Great River) is one of the biggest and most important parts of the geography of Middle Earth. It’s on pretty much every map, so make sure you have a rough idea of its course.
– The division of the company members between boats makes a lot of sense in context for Aragorn/Frodo/Sam and Gimli/Legolas. As for Boromir/Merry/Pippin they’re sort of just the leftovers here, and I think this is partially the inspiration for trying to play up their friendship in the PJ movie (which was done very well in my opinion).
– Galadriel’s first song is actually super important for her character, even though it’s not really touched on in the story. It pretty much spells out her motivations and regrets.
– Hidden in this chapter is a really interesting line about the eventual fate of Elves. Tolkien compares the way Frodo sees Galadriel to how men of later days see Elves from time to time: “present and yet remote, a living vision of that which has already been left far behind by the flowing streams of Time.” This shows that Elves didn’t completely leave Middle Earth for a long time, but became shadows of themselves in some sense.
– It’s pretty well-known trivia by this point, but just in case: Gimli’s request for hair from Galadriel reminds the elves of the First Age where a less kind character (Fëanor) lustfully asked Galadriel for her hair and she refused.
– Famous quote from Galadriel about the phial containging starlight: “‘May it be a light to you in dark places, when all other lights go out.’
– Galadriel’s farewell song, commonly known as ‘Namárië,’ is pretty important considering it’s the longest example of fully-translated Quenya in the original LOTR text, so it was super-important to anyone trying to learn more about the Elvish languages.

I Sang of Leaves, by MirachRavaia. Pretty drawing of Celeborn and Galadriel in their swan-boat.
I sang of leaves…, by MirachRavaia. Same artist, but this time they literally cut their art of Galadriel out of leaves. Really cool.
Namarie, by ShaylynnAnn. Beautiful illustration of Galadriel’s Namárië, with both English orthography and Tengwar script.
Farewell to Lorien, by peet. Nice drawing of the boats leaving Lórien.

Other content:
Tolkien reading Namárië. Can’t go wrong with Tolkien himself reading the most famous piece of Elvish poetry.
Fonstad Map through Feb. 25. Obviously lots of spoilers here, but it is the best way to follow along geographically in the upcoming days.
Lembas – Elvish Waybread: a real world recipe. Lembas has obviously inspired lots of fan recipes, but few are as extensively researched as this one by Jason Vey.

From Tale of Years:
Farewell to Lórien. Gollum in hiding on the west bank observes the departure.

Notes: The sad departure from the glorious Lórien! At least we get two famous songs (don’t worry, I have lots of covers of those to send out in the days to come) and some classic scenes. The scene between Gimli and Galadriel was done particularly well in the PJ movie, and was one of the better character moments for both. Next up is a multi-day trip down the River, but it’s quite eventful so stay tuned. ~Tom


December 9, 2017

Upcoming: Dwarf Focus Week

Just a quick update today to introduce a new Focus Week: Dwarves! Tomorrow we will read the appendix section covering Dwarves (A.III) and then throughout the week I’ll have some more updates with art & videos relating to the history of Dwarves, The Hobbit, and more. Not only that, but by Friday we will FINALLY hear about the situation in Rivendell and gear up to get started again on our journey.

Other Content:
J.R.R. Tolkien recites The Hoard. Not sure where else to include this great piece, so I figured it would be a good kick-off to Dwarf week. The Hoard is one of my favorite poems that Tolkien wrote: it’s a really melancholy piece about a treasure hoard and all of the different people who try in vain to lay claim to it. Very reminiscent of, but not exactly referring to, the treasure in the Lonely Mountain (in The Hobbit). Anyway this is a nice recording of Tolkien himself reciting the poem.

Notes: Hope everyone’s December is going well. Stay tuned for some fun content this week; only two weeks now until Christmas/Rivendell departure!! ~Tom

November 24, 2017

Art Dump

Aragorn & Arwen:
Arwen Evenstar by ullakko. Beautiful portrait of Arwen.
Evenstar by ilxwing. Gorgeous drawing of Arwen picking flowers outside Rivendell.
Upon Cerin Amroth, by annoulaki. Awesome drawing of the engagement scene outside on Cerin Amroth.
An Old Story… by Hemhet (featured). Really cute drawing of Elrond telling Estel (young Aragorn) a story. Really cool details referencing lore throughout.

Tolkien Original Rivendell Art:
A few sketches of the Last Homely House by Tolkien himself.
Rivendell Looking East
Rivendell Looking West

Lego Rivendell by Alice Finch. Incredible and monstrous lego model of Rivendell, based on the movie set. Tons of pictures of all the really intricate details. Seriously check this out !!!


Notes: Been a bit busy with school, so I apologize for the lack of updates! Isn’t really much to keep up with, considering everyone’s just sitting around in Rivendell, but I will try to keep up with periodic art and other stuff to tide us over until Christmas. I’ll just end with this ridiculous LOTR book cover which really just raises more questions than it should. ~Tom

September 27, 2017 (September 26, 3018)

The Hobbits travel through the Old Forest and meet Tom Bombadil

Shire Reckoning: September 26, 3018 (Halimath 26, 1419)

Pages To Read:
-FR.TheOldForest (start) – FR.InTheHouseOfTomBombadil “if logs are contented” (~p.6)

All songs are by Tolkien Ensemble today.
Song in the Woods – Frodo’s sad little song
Tom Bombadil’s Song (I) – all of the song pieces from Chapter 6 combined into one song, so you will have to start and stop if you are listening as you read. (Goldberry’s part is really pretty!)
Song To Goldberry – the poetry that Frodo makes up for Goldberry
Tom Bombadil’s Song (II) – the excerpt they hear Tom singing in the distance
Tom Bombadil’s Song (III) – the song Tom sings before bed (probably my favorite of today)

– Team Frodo gets up early and make their way to the edge of the Old Forest, where they first try to find the Bonfire Glade.
– They then reenter the forest and quickly become discouraged by the hot and stuffy air. Frodo tries to sing, but trails off as Merry scolds him for potentially offending the trees. (Illustration: The Old Forest, by Meisiluosi)
– Afraid of the myths they have heard of the Old Forest, the hobbits are one again cheered by an opening in the trees. On a hilltop, they can see out over the forest, but cannot see the road to the north, which is their goal. All that are visible beyond the trees are the Barrow-downs to the east, a sinister place.
– Back in the forest, the Hobbits veer off course, and find themselves unable to continue north. (Illustration: The Old Forest, by Sieskja)
– They finally come out of a narrow valley they have been following and to the banks of a larger river, the Withywindle.
– Hoping it will lead them out of the forest, they follow a path alongside the river until they are lulled to sleep by the forest.
– A menacing willow tries to capture them, but Sam manages to rescue Frodo and the two, calling for help, draw the attention of a mysterious figure in blue.
– It’s toM BOMBADIL TIME FOLKS!! The kooky old man himself rescues Merry and Pippin from Old Man Willow and leads them out of the forest to his house. (Illustration by the great Ted Nasmith)
– The hobbits finally leave the trees just as night falls and they are welcomed to Tom’s house on the edge of the forest. (Illustration by Joe Gilronan)
– Turns out Tom is the husband of Goldberry, the River-daughter, who has prepared a huge feast for the hobbits. She explains that Tom holds a certain power over the nature in the surrounding area, and that he is not afraid of anything. (Featured Illustration: Goldberry’s Feast, by MoonlightPrincess).
– After dinner, the hobbits get another song out of Tom and are eventually led to their soft, comfortable beds.
– We get another dream sequence, this time one for each of the hobbits. Well, except Sam, who sleeps like a log. (Frodo has a vision of a man atop a tower getting rescued by an eagle, Pippin has flashbacks to Old Man Willow, and Merry has a nightmare about drowning.)

Trivia, Details:
– The concept of Tom goes back to the early days of LOTR, despite him being relatively unconnected with the rest of the Middle Earth legendarium. I think Tolkien wanted it to remain a mystery, to show that there is no way to fully explain a whole world in one book (or even a whole lifetime’s worth of books).
– I’m a big fan of Tolkien’s writing in Chapter 6. The Old Forest is one of my favorite sequences, because you can really picture the forest, the atmosphere, and the tortuous journey through the trees. 10/10 would recommend at least reading Chapter 6 today.

Links to Other Content:
Old Man Willow, by JRR Tolkien. Tolkien original art of the sinister tree.
A Part of the Shire, by Don Hitchcock. Really beautiful digitized version of Tolkien’s original Shire map, with extra details about the journey so far. Highly recommended, especially to review the geography of the first few days.
Sam’s Silly Joke, by DeathlyDollies13. A funny little drawing of the scene with Old Man Willow as if it were to take place in a comedy.

The Tale Of Years:
The Old Forest. Frodo comes to Bombadil.

Notes: Sings like 5 songs in one day. Classic Tom Bombadil! ~Tom

July 14, 2017 (July 11, 3018)

Tolkien illustrations: Orthanc

Shire Reckoning: July 11, 3018 (Overlithe 11, 1419)

We have two different Tolkien originals today, both of Orthanc. They are markedly different, and show a bit of how Tolkien evolved his conception of Middle Earth over the course of writing LOTR.
Orthanc (I), an earlier conception
Orthanc (II), best follows the book description of the tower

Notes: The section describing Isengard/Orthanc in the book is fairly short, and it’s an important location, so I thought it would be helpful to see what Tolkien’s vision was for Saruman’s stronghold. (If you want to see more Tolkien originals and the story behind all the different sketches, check out The Art Of The Lord Of The Rings by JRR Tolkien, Christina Scull, and Wayne G. Hammond – amazing book.) ~Tom

March 26, 2017

Map day – “A Part of the Shire”

Pages To Read:
(just the map of the Shire, which is typically found right after the prologue)

– J.R.R. Tolkien original art of The Hill, classic image! Shows how the creator himself pictured the Shire
path into Hobbiton, by Norloth
– (Featured) ‘A Part Of The Shire’ (map from the book) drawn by Christopher Tolkien

Just take a bit to visualize the Shire geography with the excellent original map. I don’t know about you all, but I absolutely love when books give you maps to follow along with the journey, and ‘A Part Of The Shire’ is one of the classics. You can find just about everything we’ve already read about, including Tuckborough, the Brandywine, Buckland, the Farthings, the bridge, etc, and many things that will be important in the story to come, such as Bucklebury Ferry, Woody End, Frogmorton, etc. Tomorrow starts Chapter 1, which takes place of course in Hobbiton, near The Hill – make sure you find it on the map!

– Nelly Mccausland reminded me of this really cool item: a fan-made replica of the Red Book of Westmarch! Super detailed, definitely check it out, as it relates back to the information from the prologue about the Red Book. I suppose you could consider this one of the copies that Master Samwise’s descendents produced in the Shire! (Note: could be some spoilers if you look closely.)

Final Note: I want the project to be friendly to first-time readers, so generally I will try to avoid sending out anything with spoilers and structuring the readings to avoid any. However it is hard completely avoid them, so I will mark anything that could give away plot elements prematurely. ~Tom

March 20, 2017

Prologue: Concerning Hobbits (Part 1)

Pages To Read:
FR.Prologue (start) – “counsels of the Wise and the Great” (~p.2)

– Tolkien introduces us to the Hobbits of the Shire: “in the days of their peace and prosperity they were a merry folk.”
– Background is given on the nature and habits of Hobbits, including their furry feet, 6 meals a day, short height, ability to move about unnoticed, and distant relations with “the Big Folk.”

Links to Other Content:
https://youtu.be/g3_2D_ErL_I?t=28s – Tolkien reading the Ring Poem, which is typically found before the table of contents. I’d recommend listening/reading to this before you begin the prologue.
http://bit.do/concerning-hobbits – Joe Gilronan’s ‘Concerning Hobbits.’ Features an enchanting look at the “well-ordered countryside” in which the Hobbits dwell, as well as a mysterious character in the foreground. Hint: he is one of the Wise whose counsels the Hobbits trouble.
http://bit.do/bagshot-row – (Featured) a beautiful collection of Hobbit-holes by norloth. The Hobbit-holes were introduced in The Hobbit, and Bagshot Row is yet to be mentioned, but with the information about hobbits, it is good to visualize how and where they live.

– The first character introduced is fittingly Bilbo, but the next characters mentioned are Bullroarer Took and his father Isumbras the Third, who are quite irrelevant to the main plot. This book is full of historical details such as this, which are integral to its concept and themes, so be ready.

Notes: The first two pages! A quick note about the page citation – today’s means to read from the start of the Prologue in Fellowship Of The Ring to the given quote. The page number after the quote refers to the approximate page number *of the chapter* so we don’t have to worry about different editions having different page numbers. More info about this can be found at the bottom of this page: https://lotrreadalong.wordpress.com/about/

Hope you all are as excited as I am to start reading! It’s a great little intro today, so enjoy.

March 9, 2017 (Hobbit Day 2)

Hobbit Appreciation Day 2: Chapters 4-6

– “Over Hill and Under Hill” – The party tries to take the pass through the Misty Mountains, but are captured by goblins. Gandalf helps them flee, but Bilbo is lost.
– “Riddles In The Dark” – Bilbo finds a ring and a creature named Gollum, and \ plays a riddle game with Gollum in order to escape. (note: must-read chapter!!)
– “Out Of The Frying Pan Into The Fire” – Bilbo, the dwarves, and Gandalf are attacked by Wargs and goblins but escape in the nick of time.

Music and Art:
http://tolkiengateway.net/w/images/9/93/J.R.R._Tolkien_-_The_Mountain-path_%28Colored_by_H.E._Riddett%29.png one of the original Tolkien illustrations for The Hobbit, “The Mountain-path”, which is sometimes oddly used as a cover for The Silmarillion
http://faqy.deviantart.com/art/goblins-and-dwarves-342815060 The scene where goblins attack the dwarves, by faQy
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=a3gg7n23njo A slightly campy but fun performance of “Down To Goblin Town” by Joshua Burnell
http://miruna-lavinia.deviantart.com/art/Gollum-s-Cave-in-the-Mountains-642132064 (Featured) Gollum’s cave, by Miruna Lavinia
https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SrmFZsbwiAA “Fifteen Birds In Five Fir Tress”, song performed by Joshua Burnell
http://miruna-lavinia.deviantart.com/art/Out-of-the-frying-pan-650867852 Out Of The Frying Pan, by Miruna Lavinia

Important/Interesting Quotes:
– “[Bilbo] wished again and again for his nice bright hobbit-hole. Not for the last time.”
– “It is not unlikely that [goblins] invented some of the machines that have since troubled the world, especially the ingenious devices for killing large numbers of people at once, … but in those days and those wild parts they had not advanced (as it is called) so far.”
– (*) “And a sudden understanding, a pity mixed with horror, welled up in Bilbo’s heart: a glimpse of endless unmarked days without light or hope of betterment, hard stone, cold fish, sneaking and whispering.”
– “[Gollum] had lost: lost his prey, and lost, too, the only thing he had ever cared for: his precious.”
– “‘Thief, thief, thief! Baggins! We hates it, we hates it, we hates it for ever!'”

Note about songs: I managed to find a really cool album by Joshua Burnell on YouTube, which contains performances of all the songs in the text. If you are reading along with The Hobbit (which of course you don’t have to! it won’t impede your enjoyment of LOTR at all if you don’t) I would highly highly recommend opening the songs first, then playing them as you get to them while reading. It’s really easy to just sort of skip over Tolkien’s songs, but they’re almost all well-written and enjoyable – listening to a musicalized version makes them easier to appreciate for me. (More to come about songs during Lord Of The Rings.)

General notes: Iconic chapters today, especially ‘Riddles In The Dark.’ Ranks in contention for best chapter Tolkien ever wrote. Even if you’re not reading the rest of the Hobbit, I would 100% say READ RIDDLES IN THE DARK. The events here are of critical importance to Lord Of The Rings. Especially note the quote I starred above about Bilbo’s pity for Gollum. That sentence could be the most important sentence in the whole book, in terms of impact on LOTR. Also interesting in chapter 4 are the various mentions to the Dwarf and goblin wars that Thorin’s people fought. These are covered in some detail in the LOTR appendices, so we’ll get to learn more about them eventually!

As a final note: I’m covering threeish chapters at a time of The Hobbit because these are just sort of practice for me, a way to get into the Middle Earth spirit, and an encouragement to read The Hobbit if you have never before. Just know that when we get to Lord of the Rings, we will NOT be covering 3 chapters a day (at least 99% of the time). There will be room for a lot more appreciation of small sections. As an example, March 20, the first day, will only cover the first page or so of the prologue.

~Tom, coordinator