October 8, 2017 (October 7, 3018)

Team Frodo leave Weathertop

Shire Reckoning: October 7, 3018 (Winterfilth 7, 1419)

Pages To Read:
-FR.Flight “Dawn was growing in the sky” (~p.2) – “he did not speak of it for a long time” (~p.4)

– The next day, Strider finds the blade that pierced Frodo’s shoulder, but it vanishes in the morning sun.
– He tries to treat Frodo’s wound with a special healing plant Athelas, but the pain only partially eases. Frodo realizes the foolishness of putting the Ring on, and wonders if he will be crippled for life by the wound.
– The Team hurry south, and cross the Road nervously. They hear the screech of the Riders in the distance, but make it to the woods safely. As they continue to march, Frodo’s wound hurts more and more, but he doesn’t draw attention to it.

Trivia, Quotes, and Details:
– Athelas will serve a surprisingly important role later, so remember it.
– Fans of Bill Ferny’s pony will be happy to know it is doing well, and getting stronger and fatter by the day.

Links to Other Content:
Fonstad Map: Journey through October 20. Here is a regional map showing details of the next leg of the journey. Kind of interesting in that there are two options shown, because Tolkien left a bit of ambiguity in the various rewrites of this chapter as to the geography of the Trollshaws. Use it to follow along, major spoilers contained though.
Plodding, by Smokygouda. Sketch of the four hobbits walking today.
Wound in Weathertop, by breath-art. Awesome mural summarizing the attack.

Notes: And so begins the slog to get to Rivendell. ~Tom


September 23, 2017 (September 22, 3018)

Frodo’s birthday, the last night in Bag End

Shire Reckoning: September 22, 3018 (Halimath 22, 1419)

Pages To Read:
-FR.Three “Thursday, his birthday morning” (~p.3) – “Gandalf had not come” (~p.4)

– Frodo celebrates his birthday, drinking some good wine and lamenting that he had to sell Bag End to the *shudder* Sackville-Bagginses.
– Frodo also is secretly sad that he will have to leave behind Merry and Pippin (and I guess Folco and Fredegar); he hasn’t told them of his true plans yet.
– Gandalf still hasn’t arrived. As we see in the Appendices, he’s just now getting his horse, Shadowfax. Also the Black Riders are approaching, crossing Sarn Ford.

Trivia, Quotes, and Details:
– According to Appendix D, Thursday in the Shire is really more like our Saturday, so the days of the week actually match up by some miracle!
– Tears for Sam, who doesn’t actually get to go to the party, because… gardener?? Don’t worry people, Sam & Frodo will eventually get a lot closer.

Links to Other Content:
Happy Birthday Frodo, by middleearthgirl. Cute (admittedly movie-based) drawing of Frodo’s party.
Fonstad map – the journey through October 7. MAJOR SPOILERS. So in Fonstad’s incredible Atlas of Middle Earth, she has a series of maps detailing the journey day by day. This covers up to October 7, so you can use it to follow along if you don’t mind spoilers. PS I’ll send it out again on Oct. 7 to review.

The Tale of Years:
The Black Riders reach Sarn Ford at evening; they drive off the guard of Rangers. Gandalf overtakes Shadowfax.

Notes: The final night in the Shire! Get hyped people!! ~Tom

September 10, 2017

Of the Languages and Peoples of Middle Earth in the Third Age

Pages To Read:
-RK.AppendixF (start) – (end)

– Lots of details about the languages of Middle Earth, their histories, and how Tolkien ‘translated’ them for LOTR.

Trivia, Quotes, and Details:
– There’s a special note to explain that Elves are tall, noble, and beautiful, which goes to show how our current idea of an “elf” was basically established by Tolkien. Before him, the word “elf” would have referred probably to more of a garden gnome-type creature.
– There’s lots of details about how the various languages of Middle Earth relate, and this appendix is actually a pretty good introduction to Tolkien’s linguistic philosophy if you haven’t read LOTR before.
– As with all the appendices, feel free to skim if you want to avoid spoilers and primarily want to focus on the main story.

Links to Other Content:
Langauge Map. Map by Karen Wynn Fonstad, showing the distribution of languages throughout Middle Earth.
Population Map. Another Fonstad map, showing the inhabited areas of different races.

Interesting partially-related art
They were once elves, by Mother of Bees. Appendix F gives a bit of the history of the language of Orcs, but I’m not sure LOTR ever explains actual origin of their race. In some versions of the Silmarillion, they are Elves captured and corrupted by Morgoth. This great piece of art depicts a few stages of that chilling transformation. Wasn’t sure where else to include this, but if it ever is relevant to the text again, I may resend it.

Notes: Fun little appendix, and the last of the extra summer material! Starting Thursday, I will resume more frequent updates following Frodo & Co. ~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 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

May 26, 2017

Second Age Week: Númenor Maps

Númenor, by Sapiento. Gorgeous illustrated map that incorporates most of the known details about the island of Númenor.
– Númenórë Map, by amegusa. Another wonderful map, with more pictoral representations of many features.

Notes: Hope you enjoy these maps! Geographic details of the island aren’t as important for LOTR as the general story of the Fall of Númenor, but they’re still cool to look at ~Tom

April 16, 2017

Pauline Baynes map

Today’s featured piece is Pauline Bayne’s colored/illustrated full Middle Earth map! Pauline Baynes was a classic illustrator of Tolkien’s works, probably the one who he favored most during his life. She never did a full illustrated edition of LOTR, but she illustrated many of Tolkien’s shorter works such as Farmer Giles of Ham, Smith of Wootton Major, and The Adventures of Tom Bombadil. She is also known for doing the classic cover art for The Chronicles of Narnia (C.S. Lewis). The map is beautiful, so definitely check it out!!

Enjoy! ~Tom

Real Time starting tomorrow!

Real Time starts tomorrow

[Dates will be given here: Kings Reckoning (Shire Reckoning)]

Get excited everyone!! Our true adventure begins tomorrow with Gandalf’s arrival in Hobbiton!

Now those of you who are already experienced with LOTR lore may be wondering, doesn’t Gandalf arrive on April 12? The answer is yes, but that is according to the Shire Reckoning which, as I discussed yesterday, is a day or two offset throughout the year. In order to keep the timescales as clear as possible I will preserve the offsets, but clearly state at the beginning of each post the date in the various calendars. Hopefully that will keep it clear!

Update on the state of things:
We are about to enter the Shire in the year 3018 of the Third Age of Middle Earth. However, for the Hobbits it is year 1418 – meaning the Shire was founded 1418 years ago. Frodo Baggins has been living alone for 17 years now, ever since old Bilbo, his uncle, disappeared. Despite the bachelor being viewed as eccentric, he has made many friends, including Merry and Pippin, and his garden is tended by Samwise Gamgee (son of the Gaffer, Bilbo’s gardener). For the past few years Frodo has become restless, and dreams of mountains and adventures unwittingly enter his sleep. I like to imagine he sits for long hours in his study, examining Bilbo’s maps and wondering what lies beyond the edges of the page. (Here is a map Bilbo might have made of the lands around the Shire, by amegusa). In other news, rumours have been spreading about many evil things, most especially the dark tower in Mordor. Only a whisper of this reaches the Shire, through Dwarves that come and go from Bag End and Elves that travel through the woods at night on their way to the sea.

Notes: Hope you all are ready! Tomorrow is just a short section, but Friday will be a whole chapter of reading, so plan ahead for that. ~Tom, coordinator

April 4, 2017

Fonstad maps – Hobbiton & Bag End

– Map of Hobbiton
– Schematic of Bag End

Just wanted to take a bit of time to introduce the late Karen Wynn Fonstad of “Atlas Of Middle Earth” fame. Ms. Fonstad was an amazing cartographer and writer who created the Atlas Of Middle Earth in 1981: a comprehensive collection of floor plans, journey logs, city layouts, and maps of every shape, kind, and size. I have taken lots of screenshots that I will link to when appropriate because I think everyone deserves to be able to follow along with a map, but I highly recommend buying the book if you get the chance. She has good descriptions throughout and it is chock full of details, and almost everything is literally directly based on details that Tolkien wrote.

Anyway… for today’s art we have Fonstad’s Bag End and Hobbiton. Enjoy! ~Tom