Tuesday, September 22, 2015

Tolkien Blog Party 2015

It's Tolkien Week again!  Which means time for my annual Tolkien Blog Party on my other blog, The Edge of the Precipice.  As usual, I'm going to answer the questions myself over here :-)

1. What draws you to Tolkien's stories? (The characters, the quests, the themes, the worlds, etc.) 

The characters, mostly.  Yes, Middle Earth is a cool place, but without the characters who people it, I wouldn't be interested in it.  I want to hang out with these imaginary people, help them, comfort them, just live my life beside theirs.  That's what brings me back to these stories over and over.  And that's probably why I'm struggling with The Silmarillion so much -- I only care about a few of the characters, and they're only in a chapter or two each.

2. What was the first Middle Earth book you read and/or movie you saw? What did you think of it?

I first read The Hobbit when I was probably 15 or 16.  I liked it kind of okay.  Truth be told, I still like it only kind of okay.  Anyway, I didn't like it enough to want to read another thousand pages of what I assumed would be more of the same, so I never read The Lord of the Rings.

At least, not until 2001, when Peter Jackson's The Fellowship of the Ring came to theaters.  After just one viewing, I was enthralled with Middle Earth, promptly bought the book and started reading, and have been a devoted fan ever since.

3. Name three of your favorite characters and tell us why you like them. 

In 2013, I talked about Boromir, Sam, and Gandalf.  In 2014, I talked about Eomer, Aragorn, and Faramir.  Who on earth can I talk about this year?

Bard, of course.  Back in April, I wrote this whole long post about him, so here I will briefly quote what I said in this other post:   I identify very strongly with Bard -- the decisions he makes, the way he interacts with people, even the words he chooses are all things I feel I would do if I were in his position.  His family is his focus; everything he does, he does to care for and protect them, and that is very much my life.

And I've always been fond of Elrond.  He's wise, he's stalwart, he's kind, he's helpful.  And, as the flashbacks in LOTR and the magnificent fight scene from TBOTFA showed, he's a crazy awesome warrior. 

Thanks to Peter Jackson's movies, I'm also terribly fond of Bilbo Baggins now.  He still kind of bores me in the books, but in the movies, he's wonderful.  I think he's got one of the greatest character arcs I've ever seen, going from a complacent homebody to a determined ambassador for doing the right thing.

4. Are there any secondary characters you think deserve more attention? 

Definitely.  Prince Imrahil of Dol Amroth and Glorfindel both got shunted aside for the movies, which I find really annoying.  They're both awesome warriors and fairly important in the books, and I like imagining who should have played them.

Also, Elrond's sons Elrohir and Elladan are super cool and don't get mentioned much.  And they're not in the movies either.  I like imagining Aragorn growing up around them and being so happy when he was old and capable enough to go on real adventures with them.

5. What Middle Earth character do you relate to the most? 

Bard the Bowman, as I said above.  Movie Bard, that is -- Book Bard is woefully underdeveloped, IMHO.  I also identify greatly with Samwise Gamgee, in both book and movie.

6. If you could ask Professor Tolkien one Middle Earth-related question, what would you like to ask him?

Did you forget about Elrohir and Elladan being along when they were going down the Paths of the Dead and you kept nattering on about how Legolas was the only one who wasn't afraid, because he was an elf?  Or did they not count because they're half-elven?  Or is it a special Wood Elf thing to not be afraid of ghosts?  Or did you just plain forget about them for a couple chapters?  (Yes, that's really all one question.)

7. Are there any pieces of Middle Earth merchandise you would particularly like to own, but don't? 

Right when TBOTFA came out last year, I found an amazing replica of Bard's coat on Etsy.  It cost like $500, so obviously I didn't buy it, but yeah, I drooled.

8. What battle would you absolutely not want to be part of? 

Well, any of them, to be honest.  But particularly Helm's Deep.  It makes me feel trapped.  I guess I wouldn't mind being one of Eomer's troops that rides to the rescue, though.

9. Would you rather eat a meal at the Rivendell or Bag End? 

Rivendell.  I've got a Hobbit cookbook, and Hobbit food is extremely tasty!  But... I can make it myself.  Elvish food, on the other hand, must surely be beyond human skill, and also be more tasty than I can even imagine.

10. List up to ten of your favorite lines/quotes from the books or movies.

(Once again, I'm choosing different answers from the past two years.  The great thing about these books is that I have so many favorite lines, I won't be running out of 'new' ones any time soon!)

"Look out for me, especially at unlikely times!" -- Gandalf

The road wound away before them like a piece of string. (Fellowship of the Ring.)

"A hunted man sometimes wearies of distrust and longs for friendship." -- Aragorn

"The time of my thought is my own to spend." -- Dain

"May your beer be laid under an enchantment of surpassing excellence for seven years!" --Gandalf

"However it may prove, one must tread the path that need chooses!" -- Gandalf

In the dark at the rear, grim and silent, walked Aragorn.  (Fellowship of the Ring)

"Ah! the green smell!" he said. "It is better than much sleep. Let us run!" -- Legolas

"In the morning counsels are best, and night changes many thoughts." -- Theoden

"Need brooks no delay, yet late is better than never." -- Eomer

Please join the party if you're a Tolkien fan!  The initial post with these questions and the link-up is here, the giveaways are here, and I'll be posting games and other Tolkieny goodness all week long.


  1. Huzzah for Middle-earth!!! I greatly enjoyed reading this!:)

    Ick, I know what you mean about The Silmarillion. It took me a looooooong time to finish that book--like you said, you don't really care for the characters that much. I mean, it makes one feel very Scholarly and Knowledgeable to have read it, but overall it's a bit...dry:P I did really like Beren and LĂșthien's story, though, and the parts with Telperion and Laurelin!

    You're neutral on The Hobbit, too?! I literally thought I might be the only one:D I mean...I LIKE it well enough, but I don't LOVE it, ya know?

    Wonderful answers!

    1. I've been reading The Silmarillion for MONTHS. But I only have like 60 pages left, so the end is in sight! But it's kind of like reading certain sections of the Old Testament. But I liked Beren and Luthien too, and got pretty caught up in Turin's story. And Eol.

      Oh, another not-mad-about-The-Hobbit person! I must hug you.

  2. I agree that movie-Bard and movie-Bilbo are better than their book counterparts.

    I also agree that the characters are some of the best elements of LotR. Good answers!

    1. Meredith, I think it's because so much more time is spent with both of them -- by expanding the story, Jackson was able to delve deeper into so many of the characters, and they really shine as a result. Not to mention his talent for hiring extraordinarily talented actors so exactly suited to their roles.

  3. I've never found The Silmarillion dry. The reason I don't often read it is I find it too sorrowful. Beautiful & joyful and sorrowful. Poignant joy.

    “The consolation of fairy stories, the joy of the happy ending; or more correctly, the good catastrophe, the sudden, joyous "turn" (for there is no true end to a fairy tale); this joy, which is one of the things that fairy stories can produce supremely well, is not essentially escapist or fugitive. In it's fairy tale or other world setting, it is a sudden and miraculous grace, never to be counted on to reoccur. It does not deny the existence of dyscatastrophe, or sorrow and failure, the possibility of these is necessary to the joy of deliverance. It denies, (in the face of much evidence if you will) universal final defeat and in so far is evangelium, giving a fleeting glimpse of Joy, Joy beyond the walls of the world, poignant as grief.”

    It's that joy, also encompassing what C.S. Lewis called Sehnsucht, that really gets to me in especially the LOTR.

    1. George, I don't think The Silmarillion is dry. I think it is dense. I was just discussing it with a friend who is also working her way through it for the first time, and I said that I felt like I could only take small bites of it at a time because I have to chew them so thoroughly -- the book is just crammed so full of things I want to understand.

      Awesome quote! Thanks for sharing. It reminds me of Lewis' "Someday you will be old enough for fairy tales again," which I love. I just bought a mug with that on it, as a matter of fact.

  4. HEEEEYYYYY! Wait a second, are you telling me that the Hobbit and LoTR actually are different enough so that even if you don't like the Hobbit, you may still like the others? Because I always assumed that because I really didn't like The Hobbit, I wouldn't like LoTR either, and so I never read the books or watched the movies.
    This opens up new "scope for imagination." I . . . may have to rethink this decision. :)

    1. Jessica, YES! They are vastly different! I don't know why you don't like The Hobbit -- for me, the condescending narrator and the meandering, almost aimless story are the main problem. Plus the characters are so thin -- even Bilbo is not exactly well-developed. It's supposed to be a children's story, but it always feels to me like it's written with the idea that children will be amused by just about anything, so there's not need to get all deep and complex. (I'm going to be stoned for saying that.)

      But that narration style is not present in LOTR, and the story has a very definite focus and aim. The characters are fully-realized, the plot is complex, the world-building is unparalleled. Honestly, I would recommend getting the movie version of FOTR and trying that. The theatrical version is just shy of 3 hours, much less of a time commitment than a 300-page book.

    2. Okay, cool! I'm so glad you told me that, because otherwise I'd never have realized that they were different. I'll try watching FOTR (as soon as I have time) and see what I think of that. Then, if I like it, I can "go deeper" :)

      For me, I think the thing I didn't like about "The Hobbit" was that there were no characters I really identified with and wanted to root for--not even Bilbo. A lot of his decisions just didn't make sense to me. Especially with the whole Arkenstone (did I spell that right) deal--I was like, "oh, come on, this is ridiculous, don't be so stupid." And I did NOT like Thorin. At all. Looking back, in fact, I think he was one of my biggest obstacles to actually enjoying The Hobbit--he's just so MEAN sometimes.

      Plus, I think I felt like there was no real "point" to the story--unlike in LoTR, where it's this huge apocalyptic struggle to save the whole universe. THAT I can get behind. But in the Hobbit, it's just like, okay, let's go take back our gold that some dragon stole from us. Big deal. (At least, that's my take on it.)

    3. Oh, yeah, and there are no girls in "The Hobbit." No girls = no romance. Boring. (For a ten-year-old, anyways.)

    4. Jessica, lol! Well, there's a bit of romance here and there in LOTR, though it's not a huge focus.

      But I totally hear you on not caring much about the characters in TH. I have the same problem with that book. LOTR is completely different in that respect! There are many rich, well-developed characters to identify with and care about. (And Thorin is a jerk. He just is.) And you're right, there's no overarching point to TH, other than that Bilbo has adventures. I think taking back your homeland and ancestral treasure would be a splendid point for a story... but it keeps going beyond that to have this huge battle and blah blah blah. The movie is much better in that respect, in that taking back Erebor is part of their aim, but Azog the Defiler is hunting them down and Thorin knows he needs to face and defeat him -- that's the real core of the movies, which works so much better. IMHO.

    5. That sounds awesome--I really need to try it :) Yeah, I think you COULD make a good story out of the "taking back one's homeland" theme, but for some reason Tolkein just didn't really. Maybe it's because he made it so hard to identify with the dwarves, since the story's not told from their point of view--and they aren't super-likeable anyways?

    6. All I know is, I'm happy so many people loved it when it was first published, so that the publishers asked Tolkien for more, and we got LOTR as a result.

  5. OOHH The fond memories this post brings back! I really need to re-read the entire series (and brave the Silmarillion). Best books (and movies) EVER! Wow, I'm glad I'm not the only one who thinks that The Hobbit isn't half as good as LOTR! I mean, I like, it; it's fun, but it's just not as epic and beautiful. And isn't Bard FABULOUS!?

    1. Elizabeth, you are not alone! I've definitely found a lot of folks thru this party this year who are underwhelmed by The Hobbit. The book, that is.

      Bard. Bard. How I love him!

  6. Haha....so much of this I have yet to understand. ;) I literally knew of only a few of the characters and scenarios you mentioned. But it was great, nonetheless! You've made me excited to keep learning more about all the stories within Middle-Earth! :D
    I loved some of the quotes you included! And aww! That last photo-aren't hobbit children some of the cutest??!

    1. Natalie, you're getting there! And look at all the wonderful adventures ahead of you :-)

      Yes, Hobbit children are adorable. Two of them in FOTR are played by Peter Jackson and Fran Walsh's kids, and I believe they play hobbits in AUJ too.

    2. Haha, thank you, Hamlette!

      Aww, that is so sweet! I didn't know that!

  7. Wonderful answers!!! I'm so glad I found your blog in time to do this! I completely agree Martin Freeman took Bilbo to a new characteristic that the book never gave for me, especially his face expressions!! I also agree that Elrond's sons didn't get enough attention/explanation. I was very much confused in the book as to who they really were and what they were doing...
    Love the Hobbit children!

    1. Thanks, Jacqueline! I'm glad you found my blog and got to participate :-)

      I really like Elrond's sons and all of Aragorn's Ranger friends -- I wish we could have a whole movie of all of them going on adventures or something! Protecting the Shire and capturing Gollum and all of that.

      Hobbit children are the most adorable, aren't they?

  8. I know this is an old post, but I just wanted to stop by and tell you that the LoTR movies are my favorite movies ever! (kicking out Ben Hur for the top spot). I only discovered them a couple years ago, when my brother and sister-in-law who are huge fans, finally persuaded me to watch them. (I'm usually not much into fantasy). Now, I'm infatuated! I had never read the books either, until I watched the movies, so now I like the movies better than the books, even though I know Tolkien purists would disagree. I do like the books as well, even the Silmarilion, although it took a while for me to get through that one.
    My three favorite characters are Legolas, Elrond, and Gandalf. Sam is my favorite Hobbit. And Rivendell is my absolute favorite place in Middle Earth!

    1. Connie, I LOVE comments on old posts! Middle Earth is so very dear to my heart that I host a week-long Tolkien blog party every September, which is what this post was a part of.

      I am not a purist about anything except the Bible, so I will not look askance at you for liking the LOTR movies better than the books! In fact, I like the Hobbit movies better than that book, by a hugely long shot.

      Sam, Legolas, Elrond, and Gandalf are among my faves as well, as you can see :-)

      Feel free to poke around all my posts about LOTR and Tolkien and so on here on this blog, and on my book blog as well :-) I'm always happy to discuss things, no matter how old the post!


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