MiddleEarthBlog: March 2012


Thursday, March 29, 2012

Of time,age,and distances in LOTR

I thought I would tackle some aspects of "The Lord Of The Rings" that people usually do not consider.Namely the time between certain events, the ages of the characters in the story at the time of LOTR and distances traveled in the story.Fortunately Professor Tolkien left ample information in the appendices at the end of "Return Of The King" and some I have had to make educated guesses concerning them, The following information is accurate as I can make them if I am wrong or you disagree with my methods I used to make these determinations please feel free to correct me Let us begin with the ages of specific characters at the time of the events of LOTR. The events of LOTR took place in the years 3018 and 3019 of the Third Age.

Abbreviations: (LOTR)=Lord Of The Rings, (FA)=First Age, (SA)=Second Age, (TA)=Third Age, (?)=Unknown



Aragorn, born 2931TA - 87

Theoden, born 2948TA - 70

Denethor, born 2930TA - 88

Boromir,  born 2978TA -40

Faramir,   born 2983TA - 35

Eomer,     born 2991TA - 27

Eowyn,     born 2995TA - 23


Bilbo,       born 2890TA - 128

Frodo,      born 2968TA - 50

Merry,      born 2982TA - 36

Pippin,      born 2990TA - 28

Sam,         born 2980TA- 38


Elrond,  I cannot find and actual birth date for Elrond but we know he had a brother named Elros and at the end of the First age they were granted the choice of choosing to live their lives as men or elves, Elrond chose that of an elf and Elros as that of a man,but he was given a far greater life span than normal men and died in the year 442 of the second age.Elrond was therefore alive in the First age so including all the years of the Second age and the Third age he was over 6500 years old at the time of the war of the ring.

Arwen,    born 241TA - 2777

Legolas,   ?


Gimli,       born 2879TA - 139


Gandalf) There is no birth date given or in what age, we know he is an Istari(Wizard) and is of the Maiar and might have been present at the creation of all things which would make him of an unknown but extremely ancient age. We know that the Istari made there first appearances in MiddleEarth around the year 1000 of the Third age so at the time of the war of the ring he would have been present around 2018 years. but as stated earlier was infinitely older than that.

Gollum(Smeagol), I can find no birth date for him, he is first mentioned in the appendices on the date he slew Deagol and took the ring for his own , this was the year 2470TA. If he was around 30 years of age at the time that would make him around 568 at the time of the war of the ring.

Sauron,  He like Gandalf was of the Maiar and accordingly was ancient beyond reckoning .

 Now let us deal with distances,most of Frodo and Sams traveling was done on foot outside a little boat ride and this was not a pleasant walk, their journeys took them through attacks by old man Willow, the horrors of the Barrowdowns, the attempted trek across Carhadras where they nearly froze to death, then through the mines of Moria where they were attacked by Orcs and a Balrog,through steep mountain passes and Shelobs lair then across the stinking wasteland of Mordor to Mt. Doom. Let us not forget that they were Hobbits and only a little over three feet tall so that made the walk even longer and more tiresome.Using the map of Middleearth here on my Blog and using the Legend it provides.measuring out at 200 mile lengths it would appear their journey and others of the party was close to 900 miles roughly a little less than the distance from Chicago to Dallas.As you can plainly see this was a ponderously long trip and they weren't wondering along some flat pleasant path running parallel with the interstate with a Wendys and a Burger King at every exit.They were constantly challenged trying to find food and water and staying warm.So next time you read LOTR keep the distances in your minds and you will have a little more appreciation about how tiring the journey was. The walk from Cirith-Ungol to Mt.Doom was around 60 miles in itself.

And lastly let us deal with time frames, in books and Movies things to happen almost instantaneously.Professor Tolkiens appendices gives us a better understanding of the duration and length of time between events.Let us look at the forging of the rings of power again drawing form the appendices.It began in the year 1500 of the SA.The forgings weren't complete until the year 1590 of the SA, so a time frame of 90 years to craft these rings of power.Sauron forges the one ring in 1600 ten years later.Sauron started a war with the Elves to regain the rings when they found of his treachery in forging the one ring beginning in 1693SA.Now the movie would lead you to believe that there was an immediate reaction and a last alliance of Men and Elves was fought against him but this event did not occur for another 1441 years in the year 3434SA.Let us consider how long until Isildur lost the one ring in the river Anduin and Frodos quest to destroy it in the fires of MT. Doom.The ring was lost in the year 2 of the TA. and Frodo set out with the ring in the year 3018 of the TA, so, 3016 or drawing a comparison with our own history, roughly about the 1012 years before the birth of Christ till the present day.How long did Gollum(Smeagol) possess the ring before losing it to Bilbo? He acquired the ring through murder in the year 2463TA and lost it in the year 2941TA so around 478 years.Bilbo had the ring in his possession until the year 3001TA therefore 60 years.As you can see in reality there was often greater amounts of time between events that are much longer than most people think.

Sunday, March 11, 2012


Who or what exactly were Elfs? They have several names,Elfs,The Eldar,the Firstborn. They were the first and most favorite of Erus children.They were immortal beings,though not eternal.When Arda(the world)perished so would they. They did not suffer from old age or disease but could perish from mortal wounds and could also die from apathy(they grew weary of life).After death there sould would travel to the Halls of Mandos a God who lived in the blessed realm where after a period of time they could be reborn if they so chose,how long that took to happen and how I do not know,Professor Tolkien was rather vague on this subject.There were different sets and subsets of Elfs.When the Valar(Gods) asked them to journey to live with them in the Blessed Realms some did some didn't.Of those that did a reat many left and were made exiles after Feanor, the greatest Elf, convinced them to leave what was supposed to be a gift of living with the Gods and instead was portrayed to them,by Feanor, as a captivity.Along the way these Elfs slew many of their own kindman in order to gain their boats.The most famous of Elfs were the Elfs mentioned in the LOTR,Galadriel,Legolas,Elrond.Of these Elrond was a Half-Elf, born to parents of which one was mortal anfd the other immortal(Human/Elf).Eru allowed the Half-Elfen upon obtaining a certain age to choose wether to live as Elf or Man.Elrond chose to live as an Elf and his brother Elros chose to live as a man.Were Elfs greater than man? I would have to surmise the answere is Yes.They have century upon century to live and during this time they acquired great knowledge and created many wonderful things.Eventuall Man who was much more reproductive than the Elfs grew mightier in numbers though and by the end of the Third Age,Elfs were returning to live with the Gods in the Blessed Realm and so their time had passed.Even though they lived untold centuries there were still some who were prideful,petty,vainful and at times downright stupid,Sauron played them for fools when he tricked them and made the one ring to control theirs,there lust for knowledge was their undoing..Below is  a list of the many and varied Elf types in Middle Earth. Concerned that Melkor would harm the newly awakened elves known as Quendi,, the Valar called them to come to Valinor from Middle-earth. Three elves, Ingwë, Finwe, and Elwë, came with the Vala Orome to scout Valinor and, pleased with what they saw, returned to lead their people back there. This journey with the dropping off along the way is the major cause for the different types of elves; it is referred to in the Silmarillion as the Sundering of the Elves                                                                                            Quendi
Moriquendi / Dark Elves
 Avari /Refusers
           Silvans / Woodland Elves / Wood-elves
           Laiquendi / Green Elves
        Sindar / Edhel / Elves of the Twilight / Grey Elves. The Teleri who missed the boat.
Calaquendi / Eldar / Light Elves
    Teleri / Lindar
       Noldorin Exiles

Of The Simarils

Fëanor created the Silmarils during the Years of the Trees in the Noontide of Valinor. They were named for and crafted of the hard crystalline substance silima, and contained some of the light from the Two Trees of Valinor made by Yavanna and Nienna-named Telperion the Silver, and Laurelin the Gold. Recognizing their immense beauty, they were hallowed by Varda, Queen of Arda so that no mortal flesh, hands unclean, or anything evil could touch them. Before Melkor began stirring up trouble amongst the Ñoldor, Fëanor would often wear them blazing on his brow at feasts and would allow others to see them, but as he began to suspect his kin he no longer displayed them openly allowing only his father and sons to view them. After Fëanor was exiled to Formenos, the Silmarils were stored in a chamber of iron.
Together with Ungoliant, Melkor destroyed the Two Trees. The Silmarils now contained all the remaining light of the Two Trees. Therefore, the Valar entreated Fëanor to give up the Silmarils so they could restore the Trees, but he refused. Then news came: Melkor had killed Fëanor's father Finwë, the High King of the Ñoldor, and stolen all the gems, including the Silmarils. After this deed, Melkor fled to the northlands of Middle-earth, where his ancient fortress was. Melkor, now named Morgoth by Fëanor, set the Silmarils in his crown.
Fëanor was furious at Melkor and at the Valar's perceived desire to take the gems for their own purposes, and, swearing that he and his sons would not rest until the Silmarils were recovered, he led the Ñoldor back to Middle-earth. His flight, which began the First Age of Middle-earth, led to no end of grief for the Elves and eventually for the Men of Middle-earth. Five major battles were fought in Beleriand, but ultimately the Ñoldor failed.
One of the Silmarils was recovered by Beren and Lúthien through great peril and loss. This stone was later taken by Eärendil to the Valar in the West as a token of repentance. The Valar then set this Silmaril as a star. The other two gems remained in Morgoth's hands, and were taken from him only at the end of the War of Wrath. However, soon afterwards, they were stolen by Fëanor's two sons Maedhros and Maglor. The jewels burned their hands, in refusal of their rights of possession, as they had burned Morgoth's hands many years before. In agony, Maedhros threw himself and his Silmaril into a fiery pit, and Maglor threw his into the sea. Thus, the Silmarils remained in all three elements of Arda — in the sky, fire and water

Friday, March 9, 2012

About Ents

Ents were giants resembling trees.There duties were to guard the trees of the forests and protect them from the other races in MiddleEarth,a duty that they had unfortunately not been very successful at as the other races had an unquenchable desire for wood as a means of building material and for a source of cheap fuel. The Ents were created by Eru (the creator) at the request of Yavanna, one of the Valar when she learned that her spouses (Aule) children,the Dwarves, would have a great need for wood.It is stated that even though Ents were sentient beings they were without speech until taught how to do so by the Elves.Treebeard said the Elves "curing the Ents of their dumbness" was a great gift that could not be forgotten.Ents were tree-like creatures, having become like the trees that they shepherded. They varied in traits, from everything to height and size, colouring, and the number of fingers and toes. An individual Ent more or less resembled the specific species of tree that they typically guarded. For example, Quickbeam guarded rowan trees and thus looked very much like a rowan. In the Third Age of Middle-earth, the Forest of Fangorn was apparently the only place Ents still inhabited, although the Ent-like Huorns may still have survived elsewhere, as in the Old Forest. In the Fellowship Of The Rings it as told that trees of the old forrest tried to attack the hobbits homes and they had fought and burned a great number of the trees in the battle and then built a barrier in to keep them out,Frodo and company were assaulted bu Old Man Willow and were only saved by Tom Bombadil, so trees could at times fight back against other races of MiddleEarth.There used to be Entwives (literally "Ent-women"), but they started to move farther away from the Ents because they liked to plant and control things, so they moved away to the region that would later become the Brown Lands across the Great River Anduin. This area was destroyed by Sauron, and the Entwives disappeared. The Ents looked for them, but have never found them. It is sung by the Ents that one day they will find each other. In The Felllowship of the Ring Sam Gamgee says his cousin Hal saw treelike giant in the north of the Shire. When Pippin and Merry tell Treebeard about the Shire, Treebread says the entwives would like that land.. During the War of the Ring the Ents—usually a very patient, deliberate people—did become angry at Saruman, whose armies were cutting down large numbers of their trees. They convened an Entmoot, a meeting of the Ents of Fangorn Forrest at Derndingle.

The Tree Shepherds by TEd Naismith.
After lengthy deliberation (though from the perspective of the Ents, this was very quick action), they marched on Saruman's fortress at Isengard: the last march of the Ents. They were led by Treebeard, the oldest Ent, and accompanied by the Hobbits Meriadoc Brandybuck and Peregrin Tooj. They destroyed Isengard in an all-out assault and trapped Saruman in the tower of Orthanc. Tolkien later noted that the destruction of Isengard by the Ents was based off of personal disappointment in MacBeth, when "Birnham Wood is come to castle Dunsinane". Tolkien was less than thrilled that it amounted to men walking on stage with leaves in their hats; he decided that when he did the scene for himself, he would do it correctly.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

MiddleEarth and Death

It seems a strange subject to discuss but an inevitable one for each race in Middleearth, for there was a lot of death going on in this turbulent and violent world. It is known that elves are immortal and therefore do not die of disease or old age they continue on for many, many centuries of life.Yet Elves can die under certain circumstances, they can die of catastrophic wounds or from weariness of the world.They are immortal but not eternal, their fate is bound up with the fate of the world,it is their gift or curse to survive till the end of MiddleEarth, what the plan  Eru(The Creator) has for them out into eternity they do not know for Eru has not revealed it unto them,or to the Valar.It is believed in Middleearth that each being is divided into the Fea and Hroa that is the soul and the body. For the Elves, the hröa is made to fit the fëa and it is unnatural for them to be separated.The fëar of Men, however, become separated from their hröar at death, and in this case separation is natural because it is in accordance with the nature of Men.The Elves are bound up into this world and can't leave it.Even if they suffer death from wounds or grief there fëa is sent to the halls of Mandos where it may rest for awhile from the weariness of the world. the Elvish fëa may, if it chooses, be reincarnated in a hröa identical to the one in which the fëa was formerly housed. The Valar were given permission and power by Eru to see to the construction of a new hröa for the 'houseless' fëa, and they can judge that a fëa may not be reimbodied, or at least not yet, in certain situations.If an Elf is reincarnated it must stay in Aman (the blessed realm0except for certain circumstances it is allowed to return to MiddleEarth if it has some unfinished task to complete , this is the same grace that was allowed Gandalf when he died after fighting the Balrog, does that mean that Gandalf was an elf? No, he was an Istari(Wizard) and one of the Maiar(lesser Gods) at least that is what I believe from my readings. Glorfindel an Elf you read about in the Lord Of The Rings was an Elf from the first age who was slain by a Balrog but eventually allowed to return to Middleearth,what his unfinished task was I am not certain.Men,are mortal, that is, they die. There Fea and Hroa are completely seperaed which was the way Eru planned it,it is said the Elfs were jealous of mans mortal death because it seemed to tham a final release from the cares and worries of the world.Men,of course felt differently about it.They felt death was a curse and were jealous of the Elfs immortality.The Numenorians were men who had been granted a longer life span than other men, some three to four centuries but this wasn't enough.The Valar had established a home Island for them to live in within sight of the Valars home(the Undying Lands) but would not allow them to ever enter there,The Numonoreans were led astray by Sauron who they had taken captive, he laid a great anger in their hearts for not having received the gift of immortality and convinced that all they need do was to enter the Undying lands and take it for their own.This they foolishly attempted to do and the Valar destoryed them and their kingdom so death was always an important catalyst of great tragedy in Middleearth.Only one man was allowed to return from death,Beren,and then only for a short time. What of the other races?Dwarves were given long life, centuries of it, but they were not created by Eru but by one of the Valar(Aule) it is said they do die and then return to the stone that came from.Gimli being an exception as he was allowed to travel with Legolas back to the undying lands and did not therefore suffer death.Hobbits were relatives of Men and therefore suffered death as Men do,The exceptions being the three Ringbearers Bilbo,Frodo and Sam.Ents could suffer death from fire and Axe but wether or not they died of old age I can find no readings to indicate so,Orcs were supposedly bred from Elfs, they were originallly Elfs who had been captured by Melkor and through slow and painful tortures turned to Orcs,Wether they maintained the immortality of the Elfs is not stated, personally I don't think so I feel they died a mortal death and where there Fea (if they had one) went I do not know. Wizards were as stated earlier,I believe Maiar and if they were Gods them I'm sure they did not die a mortal death,at the end of the Lord Of The Rings Saruman was knifed by Wormtongue and his physical body turned to smoke and drifted away not a natural death to be sure,but did he die? That does not appear to have a findable answer either but I shall keep looking. It was mans fear of death that Sauron used to his advantage,in the destruction of his captors,the Numonoreans, and as a lure for the great Wizards and Kings of old that fell under his sway by the promised immortality the Rings of Power would give them.It did extend their lives far beyond those of regular men but they eventually were consumed by the rings and passed into an existence as Slaves of the Rings and their master,Sauron.So as you can see Death in Middleearth was a complex issue for us and even for Professor Tolkien who changes his mind on how to represent it many times,I will not try to define things that he had such difficulty in doing but just simply state the facts as I have studied them.For an excellent essay on this I direct you to the article "Death In Tolkiens Legendarium" at http://valarguild.org/varda/Tolkien/encyc/papers/Amaranth/DeathinTolkien.htm

Sunday, March 4, 2012

Led Zeppelin and LOTR

One of my favorite groups of all times (Led Zeppelin} were devoted followers of Professor Tolkiens works. Just listen to their fourth album(They still made albums back in 1971). There are Tolkien references throughout the album such as the song "Misty Mountain Hop" and references to Gollum the evil one who crept up and slipped away with her.My favorite is the song "Battle of Evermore" with references to LOTR and the Arthurian legends, we hear mentions of Avalon and of the Queen of Light(Galadriel) and other tolkien characters as well as events.The guitarist(Jimmy Page) and the lead singer(Robert Plant) at that time were heavily into mysticism both good and bad(Alistaire Crowley) and wrote several songs to reflect their love for Tolkien literature. On the Battle of Evermore , Page was experimenting with a Mandolin and said the song just burst from him.Plant felt that the song required something extra and for the first and I believe last time they brought in another Artist to assist on the vocals.The tune for this was written by guitarist Jimmy Page at Headley Grange while he was experimenting on the mandolin owned by bassist John Paul Jones.[1][ As Page explained in 1977:

"Battle of Evermore" was made up on the spot by Robert [Plant] and myself. I just picked up John Paul Jones's mandolin, never having played a mandolin before, and just wrote up the chords and the whole thing in one sitting.[3]

Vocalist Robert Plant had recently been reading about Scottish folklore and this inspired him to compose the lyrics to this song.. The song, like some others by the group, makes references to The Lord of the Rings by J. R. R. Tolkien. Plant felt he needed another voice to tell the story and for the recording of this song folk singer Sandy Denny was invited to duet with Plant. Denny was a former member of British folk group Fairport Convention, with whom Led Zeppelin had shared a bill in 1970 at the Bath Festival of Blues and Progressive Music. Plant played the role of the narrator and Denny represented the town crier. Page elaborated:
The song sounded like an old English instrumental first off. Then it became a vocal and Robert did his bit. Finally we figured we'd bring Sandy by and do a question-and-answer-type thing.
To thank her for her involvement, Denny was given the symbol on the album sleeve of three pyramids (the four members of Led Zeppelin each chose their own symbols for the album). This is the only song Led Zeppelin ever recorded with a guest vocalist. In an interview he gave in 1995 to Uncut magazine, Plant stated:
For me to sing with Sandy Denny was great. We were always good friends with that period of Fairport Convention. Richard Thompson is a superlative guitarist. Sandy and I were friends and it was the most obvious thing to ask her to sing on "The Battle of Evermore". If it suffered from naivete and tweeness—I was only 23—it makes up for it in the cohesion of the voices and the playing.
Some people argue that the song had nothing to do with LOTR or Tolkien.I would ask you to read the lyrics below and tell me if  you have ever heard of Ringwraiths outsThe LOTR                                                         Queen of Light took her bow and then she turned to go (Galadriel?)
The Prince of Peace embraced the gloom and walked the night alone

Oh, dance in the dark night, sing to the morning light
The Dark Lord rides in force tonight, and time will tell us all  (THE DARK LORD hmmm)

Oh, throw down your plow and hoe, race now to my bow

Side by side we wait the might, of the darkest of them all

I hear the horses thunder down in the valley below (The Rohirrim?)
I'm waiting for the angels of Avalon, waiting for the eastern glow

The apples of the valley hold the seeds of happiness
The ground is rich from tender care, which they do not forget, no, no
Dance in the dark night, sing to the morning light

The apples turn to brown and black, the tyrant's face is red

Oh, war is the common cry, pick up your swords and fly
The sky is filled with good and bad, mortals never know

Oh well, the night is long, the beads of time pass slow
Tired eyes on the sunrise, waiting for the eastern glow

The pain of war cannot exceed the woe of aftermath
The drums will shake the castle wall, the Ringwraiths ride in black (ride on) (Yup, Ringwraiths)

Sing as you raise your bow, (ride on) shoot straighter than before
No comfort has the fire at night that lights the face so cold

Oh, dance in the dark night, sing to the morning light
The magic runes are writ in gold to bring the balance back, bring it back (Reference to the One Ring?)

At last the sun is shining, the clouds of blue roll by
With flames from the dragon of darkness, the sunlight blinds his eyes

Oh, bring it back, bring it back                                            

Thursday, March 1, 2012

In Defense Of Sir Peter Jackson

I have read a lot of articles lately criticizing Sir Peter Jackson for various things,mostly, for his artistic interpretations of the The Lord Of The Rings and The Hobbit films.They say his interpretations are flawed and his decisions on adding characters not in the books are profane and border on sacrilege.His exclusion of Tom Bombadil was heresy and his depiction of Sauron as a great eye on a stick was laughable in the extreme and they seem primed to blast Sir Peter to the moon and back as soon as "the Hobbit" hits theaters in December of this year.Poor Sir Peter must have very thick skin indeed not to blast back at these legions of of Tolkien purists who have come to bury Ceasar and most certainly not to praise him.Yes it appears the angry villagers have grabbed their torches and pitchforks and are headed to Castle Jackson hoping to destroy the monsters he has supposedly built fromf exhumed bits of Tolkien literature. I for one would like to Speak on Sir Peters behalf if I may be so bold.Here is  a Director given an enormous sum of money and told to go forth and create a commercially and artistically successful trilogy of  of the one book(books) they said wouldn't and couldn't be made,J.R.R. Tolkiens classic "The Lord Of The Rings". If I had been Sir Peter there would have been an audible "gulp" as I pondered the enormity of the task. How to make it appeal to the core Tolkien fans and the broader public as well. Lets face it a lot of Tolkiens works can run a bit dry at times,so hoe do you create three films and still hold the audiences attention. As in any great work of literature there is conflict.always, but how to spread that conflict over about six hours of film.What would stay and what would have to go, how to separate the wheat from the chaff and still keep it interesting while preserving the heart of the story. With a wealth of great Actors and Actresses at your disposal and you would fail at your enormous task,what Director wouldn't feel some apprehension.In my humble opinion he not only did it but did it admirably.I mean Oscars for the films and for Directing are nothing to sneeze at as Fantasy films have always been given a cold shoulder by the Oscars of the world. He took me on a wonderful journey that I had only seen before in my imagination,he gave it flesh and blood with,of course, some magic thrown in, and for this I am eternally greatfull.His decisions he will make concerning "The Hobbit" are in line with how I would desire for the book to be interpreted.Sure he brought in material from the appendix at the end of LOTR but that was a masterstroke I mean he had to fill around four hours or so of filming and I believe it would have been difficult to make an interesting four plus hour version of just the material from "the Hobbit". So here is to you Sir Peter I salute you Sir and your vision and I am sure my next excursion into middleearth will be just as enjoyable if not more so than the last.