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Showing posts from July, 2020

The Lord of the Rings 9: The Battle of Bywater and the Grey Havens

When I started re-reading The Lord of the Rings recently I thought I might get a blog post out of it, or maybe even two. Now, nine posts later, we finally draw near to the Grey Havens. If you have been, thanks for reading... Alan Lee So Sauron has been defeated, the War of the Ring is ended, the might of Mordor is destroyed, and Aragorn has taken his rightful place as king of Gondor with Arwen as his queen. Yay! And yet the the tone of The Return of the King becomes tinged with melancholy almost as soon as the Ring is destroyed. For its destruction doesn't just mean the end of the Dark Lord: it also heralds the end of the age of the Elves and the Ents, the age of magic. John Boorman, moving on from his abortive 1970s Lord of the Rings adaptation to direct the Arthurian epic Excalibur , gave Merlin a line which Gandalf or Galadriel might have said (and perhaps would have, if his version of Middle-earth had reached the screen). ' Our days are numbered. The old ways

The Lord of the Rings 8: Orodruin or Bust!

I am re-reading The Lord of the Rings and blogging about some of the vague half-formed thoughts that it sends flittering, moth-like, across my sensorium... It's not hard to see why illustrators and film makers have been drawn to The Lord of the Rings. Tolkien's writing, especially about landscape, is incredibly visual. Here's Sam, alone on the pass of Cirith Ungol after Frodo's capture by the orcs, getting his first proper look down into Mordor. Hard and cruel and bitter was the land that met his gaze. Before his feet the highest ridge of the Ephel Dûath fell steeply in great cliffs down into a dark trough, on the further side of which there rose another ridge, much lower, its edge notched and jagged with crags like fangs that stood out black against the red light behind them: it was the grim Morgai, the inner ring of the fences of the land. Far beyond it, but almost straight ahead, across a wide lake of darkness dotted with tiny fires, there was

Lord of the Rings 7: Minas Tirith

'This is not a work which many adults will read through more than once,' claimed the historical novelist Alfred Duggan, reviewing The Lord of the Rings when it was published. But I've read it through LOADS of times and now I'm blogging my latest re-read, so what did he know? And so we come to Minas Tirith, Tower of Guard, citadel of Gondor, seven tiers of fancy white fortifications built against a buttress of Mount Mindolluin, with the Tower of Ecthelion rising a thousand feet above the plain. It seems to me the template on which a whole genre of knock-off fantasy cities has been based - I guess Robert E Howard and people wrote about such places before Tolkien, and perhaps there were cities of equal grandeur on Barsoom, but when concept art threads on Instagram throw up unlikely gold and marble castles built on mountaintops and over waterfalls they always look distinctly Minas Tirithy to me. I'm wondering now if London in Mortal Engines was subconsciously echoin