What's you're definition of a "tolkien geek"?It's pretty broad. Basically, I consider a tolkien geek to be any fan of J.R.R. Tolkien's work. To qualifty, however, you have to have read "The Lord of the Rings" at least once and are overcome by a strange desire to read it again...and again. There is a whole other group of fans that calls themselves "ringers". But I think that's one step beyond "geek".
How long have you been a Tolkien fan?I have been a fan of JRR Tolkien most of my life. It started off small, watching the Rankin-Bass cartoon version of "The Hobbit" at early age and then reading the book. When I first read "The Lord of the Rings", I think I expected it to be more of the type of story, but was dismayed to find how utterly complex the it was. I probably could have told you very little of it after I'd finished.
In college, I tried again. And while I found myself impatiently skipping over some of the best of Tolkien's writing, I became a lot more interested in the story and vowed to read it again sometime. By 1994, I sat down and carefully read through "The Lord of the Rings" once again. And that time, something really clicked. I couldn't put it down. Of course, the difficulty associated with reading Tolkien aloud is a whole other can of worms.
What do you think of the movies?In 2000, I found out about the Peter Jackson films that were in production and very skeptical that the work could be successfully translated as a movie. Boy was I wrong. I LOVED them. In anticipation of the release of each installment I had a chance to fall in love with the books all over again. Don't get me wrong, though. They're not perfect. I have my share of criticisms. But I would say that they definitely exceeded my expectations. One area that particularly impressed me about Jackson's work was his casting decisions. My first love, however, is the original work.
You mean you read the books over and over again?In 2001, I learned that Christopher Lee - Peter Jackson's Saruman - was such a fan that he read the books every year for most of his later life. I decided it was worthwhile to do the same as I found each trip back into Middle-Earth, while not new, was an experience I enjoyed repeating.
Since then, I have earmarked Labor Day weekend at the beginning of September as my annual launch-point for starting the books again. I follow a leisurely pace, savoring every word, over the course of two to three months. At this point, I usually finish up shortly after Halloween (every other year I re-read the Appendices as well). Autumn is my favorite season and it has become something of a tradition for me. My wife thinks I'm completely out of my mind for it.
So why start a "Tolkien" blog?A couple of years ago, I decided to blog my thoughts and impressions after each chapter for my own personal record. Originally, I did this a way of developing a deeper appreciation for the work. What resulted serves fairly well as a "Cliff's Notes" kind of primer as well as a study of how the story developed, using many original and secondary source documents. If these ramblings provide anyone else with some insight or amusement, all the better. But my primary goal had been to actually jot down what I was thinking as I read, often noting observations that I never made before. Having the films as a visual companion to the written works also provided some stuff to blog about.
Who are these posts mostly written for?
Primarily, myself. But if I were to narrow down a group of folks that they're most aimed at I would say casual fans who enjoyed the films and have either never read the books or have read them sometime in the past and - in either case - are looking for a resource to help them better appreciate the story.
I've just stumbled onto this site. If I want to follow along as I read the books, where should I start?
Go to the Introduction of Fellowship of the Ring. Each post has a link at the bottom to navigate to the next one. Or you can find a listing of the posts for each book, by chapter, in the right sidebar. The posts make a nice companion to the books as you read along, or you can just go though them at your leisure.
Hey, I've been here before and I just read something in one of your posts that looks new. Am I imaging it?
No, you're not. In fact, I recently completed some necessary editing and correcting of my original posts. In some places I have revised and extended my commentary and included some new pictures. Posts retain their original dates and I have indicated at the bottom of each when they were revised. I've tried to be thorough in the revision, however, if any of you aspiring editors out there come across any typos or inaccuracies feel free to bring them to my attention.
You know, I having a nagging question about something in the books that I've never been able to find a satisfactory answer to. Can you help?
Well, I'm by no means an expert on Tolkien, but I own a lot of books by people who are. Plus I know of a lot of web resources. If you'd like to leave a comment on the most appropriate chapter post or email me a question or clarification at email@example.com, I'll so some research and, if I can't find a suitable answer, I should at least be able to direct you to where you could. Keep in mind that sometimes I opt to skip over some bits of information from the story if I don't think they're especially relevant. I find it's best to keep some things simple for those readers who are not that familiar with the complicated Tolkien universe.
Also, when I get questions I post them in a special sidebar section called...you guessed it "Questions & Answers".
I noticed you wrote something that isn't technically accurate if you consult some of the source material published after Tolkien's death. I want to clear that up so where is the best place to post my comment?
Really? You feel so strongly about it that you want to post a public comment to correct it and show everybody how much you know about Tolkien? That seems awfully OCD when you stop to think about it.
I get comments like this from time to time. Mostly I ignore them because the purpose of this sight isn't about scholarly research on the legendarium of Middle-Earth and the casual reader couldn't care less. Sometimes I'll comment on it myself if the mood strikes me. However, if I misstated something it's probably because in the process of banging out over a hundred posts I didn't have a copy of a particular book handy to double check and just tried to go from memory.
I don't hold myself out as the source of Tolkien knowledge, so I could really do without the attempts at one-upmanship. If you really want a response from me on a particular subject, just send an email to firstname.lastname@example.org. Otherwise, don't worry about it.
What will happen to this blog now?Though this site has been a labor of love, it really has taken a lot of my time - something I find myself increasingly lacking. After taking some time off, I decided to blog certain selections from "Unfinished Tales". The work was rewarding but the creative batteries are once again drained.
Now, I'm in the midst of analyzing "The Hobbit" and how the source material will most likely be translated into the new two-film project being currently being undertaken by Peter Jackson. Once that is done, there is nothing left to do but wait and see the final result and how it compared to my guesses. I am open to suggestions, however.
Nonetheless, I hope you enjoy what you find here.
"The road goes ever on and on..."