Tolkien Geek

Blogging J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Lord of the Rings" and other aimless pursuits.


The Istari (Part One)

The only reference to the wizards at the time that "The Lord of the Rings" was published was in Appendix B, which simply describes them as messengers sent to contest the power of Sauron. It mentions Saruman and Gandalf with one or two sentences in reference to Radagast and "others" who "do not come into this tale". True enough. Originally intended to be part of what became a rather lengthy index of "The Lord of the Rings", the essay included in this section never made it to print until "Unfinished Tales". But for those interested in better understanding the nature of these beings, this manuscript is a treasure trove of background information.
The Istari weren't wizards in the traditional sense made popular in European literature which was of human beings with magical powers. In the context of the etymology Tolkien created for Middle-Earth, he states:
"Wizard is a translation of the Quenya istar (Sindarin ithron): one of the members of an 'order' (as they called it), claiming to possess, and exhibiting, eminent knowledge of the history and nature of the World."
Another translation of Istar is "wise". And their wisdom came from the fact that they did have eminent knowledge of the world, for they existed in their true forms before the world was created. The Istari were physical forms of Maiar spirits of Valinor. The Maiar are the lesser immortals of the Ainur race of beings. If the Valar were comparable to "gods" then the Maiar could be thought of as being similar to "angels". Each Maiar was attached to the jurisdiction, or "people" as it were, of a specific Valar and shared their particular characteristics.

Just as there was a particular order of status among the Valar, the Maiar were also of varying rank and stature. Sauron was originally a mighty Maiar of the Valar Aule, but chose to follow Melkor (aka Morgoth) and became evil. Balrogs were also lesser Maiar who gravitated toward the Dark Power. The Valar assisted in the creation of Middle-Earth but the Elves and Men were created by Eru Iluvatar alone. The Valar were responsible for looking after the children of Iluvatar and during the First and Second Ages they were known to appear personally - in all their majesty - to Elves and Men to assist them in their struggles against evil.

Valar such as Ulmo, the lord of waters, and Orome, the hunter, appear in tales in "The Silmarillion". After the disaster of Numenor's destruction, however, the immortals were humbled and became wary of any more direct intervention into the affairs of Middle-Earth. But as the early years of the Third Age unfolded, it was clear that Sauron's spirit had survived and that his power was again beginning to take shape. So around the year 1000 of the Third Age, the Valar - with the blessing of Iluvatar - decided to send "emissaries" in the guise of old men whose mission it would be to assist in the coming struggle. Tolkien wrote:

"Now these Maiar were sent by the Valar at a crucial moment in the history of Middle-Earth to enhance the resistance of the Elves of the West, waning in power, and of the uncorrupted Men of the West, greatly outnumbered by the those of the East and the South"
Five Maiar were ultimately chosen and they each came over the Sea appearing as mortals well into the later years of their existence. They were hearty beings but still subject to the weaknesses of the physical form. They felt hunger and weariness but they did not age. Nor were they vulnerable to sickness or natural deaths, though their physical bodies could be slain. The Istari were forbidden to reveal their true natures and display any supernatural powers so as not to intimidate the peoples of Middle-Earth. This, however, did not prevent some of the race of Men from being distrustful of them. Since the Istari did not die, mortals perceived their existence akin to the Elves as they themselves passed on with each generation. Their role was to advise and persuade, to unite and influence all of the enemies of Sauron to work together. It is said that only Elrond, Cirdan and Galadriel knew of their true origins although one could speculate that Aragorn may have known as well.

There were advantages and disadvantages to taking physical form. As Tolkien himself writes:
"For they must be mighty, peers of Sauron, but must forgo might, and clothe themselves in flesh so as to treat on equality and win the trust of Elves and Men. But this would imperil them, dimming their wisdom and knowledge, and confusing them with fears, cares, and weariness coming from the flesh."
As the Istari were not expected to work together in concert, they were each at risk of succumbing to the temptation of abandoning their mission for lesser or more selfish purposes. And in their embodiment the Istari's conception of their own origins and knowledge of the Undying Lands "was to them but a vision from afar off".

The members of this order who were chosen by the Valar:

Maiar Name: Curumo
Known In Middle-Earth As: Curunir ("man of craft"), Saruman
Rank/Color: White (head of the order)
Valar Sponsor: Aule
The Istari most commonly known as Saruman was higher in Valinorean stature than the others. Like the people of the Valar to whom he belonged, he was greatly skilled in craftsmanship and knowledgeable in the lore and history of Middle-Earth.

Maiar Name: Alatar
Known In Middle-Earth As: Morinehtar?
Rank/Color: Blue
Valar Sponsor: Orome
Very little is known of Alatar. In the History of Middle-Earth Vol XII, there is a notation written very late in Tolkien's life that refers to him as Morinehtar though it is not clear whether this is an alternate name or a name by which he was known in Middle-Earth. He journeyed far into the Eastern lands but never returned. Whether he turned to evil purposes or was destroyed, Tolkien never said. Although, we may be able to assume that since Alatar had not returned to Valinor in Maiar form as of the beginning of the Fourth Age he may well have still existed in Middle-Earth up to that time.

Maiar Name: Aiwendel
Known In Middle-Earth As: Radagast
Rank/Color: Brown
Valar Sponsor: Yavanna
While Radagast did play a minor role in the events of the War of the Ring, he had long turned from his purpose by that point. He had grown distinterested in the affairs of Elves and Men and became enamored with the wild beasts and birds of Middle-Earth. Aule's female counterpart, Yavanna, requested quite enthusiastically that Aiwendel be allowed to accompany Curumo (Saruman). Though Curumo came to Middle-Earth first and alone, Aiwendel may have ultimately become somewhat of an annoyance to the White Wizard. Saruman probably felt that any responsibility assigned to him for Radagast was an imposition he did not deserve. Saruman's contempt for Radagast is expressed openly in "The Fellowship of the Ring". It should not be surprising, however, that a Maiar of Yavanna's people would take such an interest in the flora and fauna of Middle-Earth considering that it was she who created them in the first place.

Maiar Name: Pallando
Known In Middle-Earth As: Romestamo?
Rank/Color: Blue
Valar Sponsor: Orome, or possibly Mandos and Nienna
Pallando is the other "blue wizard" to which Tolkien refers. It is said that he was chosen as a companion to Alatar and was of equal rank. His fate seems to follow that of Alatar and, like his counterpart, his return to Valinor is not noted.

Maiar Name: Olorin
Known In Middle-Earth As: Gandalf, Mithrandir, Icanus, Tharkun, The Grey Pilgrim, Stormcrow
Rank/Color: Grey
Valar Sponsor: Manwe

A more elaborate discussion of Olorin is presented in Part Two.


The History of Galadriel and Celeborn (Part Two)

In "Part One", we looked at the origins of Galadriel and Celeborn, as well as the various races of the Eldar. At the end of the First Age, the long struggle between the peoples of Middle-Earth and Morgoth came to a catastrophic end. With the intervention of the Valar, a large portion of the continent that lay due West of the Ered Luin (the Blue Mountains) was submerged below the water and what remained looked pretty much like the map found in "The Lord of the Rings".

At this time, the Elves who had defied the Valar and journeyed to Middle-Earth were pardoned and those who chose to could return to the Undying Lands to live in peace. Some, however, chose to remain for a while before departing from the Grey Havens in what were now the westernmost lands. Here dwelt Cirdan the Shipwright, a kinsman of the Telerin King Thingol, at the Gulf of Lune. Cirdan was considered one of the greatest of the Eldar in Middle-Earth, along with Gil-galad and, of course, Galadriel. Though the forces of Morgoth were defeated, some of his minions survived the war and fled East. Among them was a certain Balrog who hid deep below the Misty Mountains as well as Morgoth's most powerful servant, Sauron.

Galadriel chose to remain in Middle-Earth indefinitely as an exile. Her decision to remain we will visit later. But first it's necessary to chronicle her travels in Middle-Earth that led her to dwell in Lothlorien. Some of the events of the Second Age are told in more detail in "The Silmarillion", however, almost all of Galadriel and Celeborn's personal history remained in unpublished manuscripts that Christopher Tolkien presents here.

They spent hundreds of years living with Cirdan at the Grey Havens, but in the year 700 of the Second Age, they moved East and founded what was known as Eregion at the Western foot of the Misty Mountains. The land was later known as Hollin and was a rest stop for the Nine Walkers on their journey South in "The Fellowship of the Ring". Eregion became a realm that allied itself with the Dwarves of Khazad-dum and engaged in a mutually beneficial relationship where they shared each others skills in the crafting of beautiful things. Here in Eregion there also lived a Noldorin Elf named Celebrimbor, of the House of Feanor. He was very gifted with the kind of talents that his grandfather, Feanor, had.

On the western door of Moria, the Fellowship come upon a carving with an Elvish inscription that said of those words "I, Narvi, made them. Celebrimbor of Hollin drew these signs". Narvi was a Dwarf who had a strong friendship with Celebrimbor and provided the mithril for the inscription.

Later, Sauron would appear to the Elves in a pleasing form. He called himself Annatar, the "Lord of Gifts", and posed as an emissary of the Valar. Sauron himself was a Maiar so he was able to manipulate his appearance and convinced Celebrimbor to forge the Rings of Power. Over many years, he would help the Noldor Elf craft the Seven and the Nine which went to Dwarves and Men, respectively. The Three - Narya, Nenya and Vilya - were never touched by Sauron. During this time, Galadriel became very distrustful of Annatar. But whether she was able to see through his disguise is not made clear. Sometime between the years 1350 and 1400 she and Celeborn left Eregion and came for the first time to Lothlorien. In the text, it is referred to as "Lorinand". While it has always been assumed that they lived there permanently during the Second Age, it is more likely they only dwelled there as guests for short amounts of time. They did live for some time in Imladris, or Rivendell, with Elrond's people. It was there that their daughter, Celebrian, met and married Elrond.

At the time that Celebrimbor became aware that Sauron had crafted The One Ring he journeyed to Lothlorien to consult with Galadriel. Though they should have destroyed the Rings, Tolkien wrote:
"Galadriel counseled him that the Three Rings of the Elves should be hidden, never used, and dispersed, far from Eregion where Sauron believed them to be. It was at that time that she received Nenya, the White Ring, from Celebrimbor, and by its power the realm of Loriland was strengthened and made beautiful; but its power upon her was great also and unforeseen, for it increased her latent for the Sea and return into the West, so that her joy of Middle-Earth was diminished."
Celebrimbor would give the Ring, Vilya, to Gil-Galad who entrusted it to Elrond. He would also give Narya, the Ring of Fire, to Cirdan.

Though Sauron put Celebrimbor to torment the location of The Three was never revealed. Sauron, however, suspected their whereabouts - believing them to have been entrusted to Elvish guardians. By the end of the Second Age, the Men of Numenor had intervened to capture Sauron. After the Akallabeth (the destruction of Numenor), those Numenoreans who were able to flee to Middle-Earth established the kingdoms of Arnor and Gondor. When the threat of Sauron again rose, they formed the Last Alliance with the remaining Elves to defeat him by giving battle to Mordor and removing the One Ring from his hand. That Ring became lost and because it was not destroyed as it should have been the spirit of Sauron remained. Though he laid dormant for many thousands of years during the Third Age, Galadriel kept a watch on Sauron's presence in Middle-Earth. The White Council was formed with Galadriel as one of its most powerful members.

There are two other tales regarding Lothlorien that are referred to in "The Lord of the Rings". The first has to do with Amroth. In Chapter VI of Book Two in "The Fellowship of the Ring", Legolas tells a sad tale of the Elf-maiden Nimrodel and Amroth, to whom she was betrothed. Up through the year 1981 of the Third Age, Amroth was the King of the realm of Lothlorien. In one draft, Amroth was to have been the son of Galadriel and Celeborn but Christopher Tolkien notes that this idea was certainly discarded by the time that "The Lord of the Rings" was published. Amroth resolved to return to the Undying Lands by a ship that was to depart from the Bay of Belfalas at the mouth of the Anduin. Nimrodel, however, was lost on her journey to meet him. When a great storm broke the moorings of his ship and cast it out to sea, he dove into the water to swim back but was drowned. Without a King, the people of Lothlorien welcomed Galadriel and Celeborn, both of noble station, to rule as their Lord and Lady.

The harbor from where Amroth was to depart was in what became Southern Gondor and was named Dol Amroth for him. There a group of Sindar Elves lived among the Numenoreans who had settled there. Legolas seems to recognize that Prince Imrahil may indeed have Elvish blood when he meets him at Minas Tirith.

The second story concerns the Elessar stone that Arwen gave to Aragorn for the time when he would come into his birthright as King of Gondor. There were actually two green Elessar stones made with the first being given to Earendil, the father of Elrond and Elros. A second stone, according to one story, was crafted in Valinor and brought to Middle-Earth by Gandalf, who gave it to Galadriel. Another story has the stone being made by Celebrimbor, who gave it to Galadriel as a gift because he was in love with her. In either case, Galadriel passed down the Elessar to her daughter Celebrian who in turn gave it to her daughter, Arwen.

The final lingering question about Galadriel is why she was banned from returning to Valinor and remained so long in Middle-Earth. Actually, at the time that "The Lord of the Rings" was written the concept of a ban wasn't really made clear, though Galadriel's temptation and rejection of The One Ring was given as a catalyst for her taking the journey over the sea. The answer to Galadriel's presence in Middle-Earth at the time of the War of the Ring was one of those things that underwent "continual refashionings".

Though there are multiple accounts of her journey East to Middle-Earth, the common denominator is that, whatever her motivation, she did in fact defy the declaration of the Valar Mandos that any of the Eldar who left Valinor were "banned" from returning. Her decision to leave most likely had to do with her "dreams of far lands and dominions" and was independent of Feanor's rebellion. Other manuscripts mention her anger towards Feanor and her desire to thwart him in any way she could. But by the end of the First Age, those Eldar who had been burdened with the Doom of Mandos were pardoned and allowed to return to Valinor at a time of their own choosing. Galadriel, however, had openly declared that she would not accept the pardon of the Valar.

The reasons for this are varied and sometimes contradictory. Tolkien writes at one point that she would not forsake the love of Celeborn, who did not want to leave Middle-Earth. In other writings he alludes to her farsightedness in resolving to do her part in opposing Sauron should he again come to power. Generally speaking, it is a common theme that Galadriel was ruled by both pridefulness and a desire to have power of her own in Middle-Earth. In fact, had she been offered The One Ring in her youth she almost assuredly would have accepted it. But the accumulated wisdom that she acquired over two Ages led to her ultimate rejection of it when it was freely offered by Frodo. She used the power of Nenya to fortify Lothlorien and create a representation of the beauty that existed in Valinor. But as she and Celeborn fought "the long defeat" against Sauron, Galadriel once again began to miss the Undying Lands.

Her opportunity for pardon had passed but, as a reward for her decision to freely reject The One Ring as well as her critical assistance in the defeat of Sauron, the Valar granted her a seat on the ship that would leave the Grey Havens with the other ring bearers.

No matter how she came to Middle-Earth or whatever reasons she had for remaining there, her role in the War of the Ring was indispensable and her fate ultimately became tied to that of The One Ring.

Next, we look at "The Istari".


The History of Galadriel and Celeborn (Part One)

This section is actually one of the most cumbersome in the whole volume because there is so much information that is contradictory with what we already know of Galadriel and Celeborn in the canonical sense. The material also seems to switch back and forth so much between topics that it's quite difficult to follow.

My approach is to cut through the stories as written and present the information in the context of answers to four specific questions:
  1. Who is Galadriel?
  2. When did she meet and marry Celeborn?
  3. How did she come to eventually rule the land of Lothlorien?
  4. Why did she remain so long in Middle-Earth?
By following this line of inquiry, it is much easier to follow Galadriel's history and contrast it with the many different alternatives that Tolkien had considered even after "The Lord of the Rings" was published.

First, let's find out about Galadriel's origins. Before we delve into the history of the character specifically, it is useful to review the history of the entire race of Elves (at least at a very high level). For those already more familiar with the Elves history, please pardon the oversimplification.

The Elves in the world of Middle-Earth were the "first born", created by Eru Iluvatar. The first Elves awoke at Cuivienen, on the shores of the Sea of Helcar, in a time that preceded the First Age. Cuivienen was located far in the East of Middle-Earth and most likely no longer exists at the time of the events in "The Lord of the Rings". Most were led on a journey to Valinor - the Undying Lands - by the Valar Orome, while others were lost or fell behind along the way and remained in Middle-Earth. Some even opted not to take the journey at all. Three races or "kindreds" of Elves arrived in Valinor: the Vanyar, the Noldor and the Teleri. The kindreds were led by kings named Inwe, Finwe and Olwe, respectively. Other members of the Teleri race did not complete the journey and remained in Beleriand, under the rule of Olwe's brother, Elwe, who later took the name Elu Thingol. Beleriand is a Western land that was later destroyed in the War of Wrath at the end of the First Age and is not present in "The Lord of the Rings".

While the importance of the character of Galadriel to the events of the War of the Ring cannot be overstated, it is fair to say that for Tolkien the scope of Galadriel's role in the broader history of Middle-Earth was one that went though (in his son's words) "continual refashionings". In fact, it wasn't until after her introduction in 1954 that the author began to tinker with several ideas about her back story.

Galadriel was part of the Noldor race, also known as the "Deep Elves" (deep in the sense of "profound" or "wise"). The Noldor were led by Finwe, who had two wives. From his first wife, Miriel, he sired Feanor. His second wife bore him two other sons, Fingolfin and Finarfin. Finarfin was Galadriel's father. Her mother was Earwen, who was akin to the Teleri.

Other than perhaps, Feanor, Galadriel is considered the greatest of the Noldor to have ever dwelt in Middle-Earth. She was born in Valinor prior to the dawn of the First Age. She was physically taller than most Elf women and Tolkien describes her in his writings as "strong of body, mind, and will, a match for both the loremasters and the athletes of the Eldar in the days of their youth". By most standards she was judged to be extremely beautiful and her golden hair was considered to be a "marvel unmatched". One of Tolkien's manuscripts states that it was her hair that inspired her uncle, Feanor, to craft the Silmarils which contained the light of the Two Trees of Valinor. Feanor is also supposed to have asked Galadriel three times for a single strand of her golden tresses, which she refused. This story, of course, puts her gift to Gimli in Lothlorien in a much more interesting context.

It was the custom of the Noldor to give their children two birth names, one from the father and one from the mother. Finarfin named his only daughter Artanis ("noble woman") and Earwen - perhaps anticipating her eventual physical prowess - gave her the name Nerwen ("man-maiden"). Galadriel is a Sindarin name that she took when she came to Middle-Earth. Galadriel had a close relationship with the Valar and studied their skills of creation. Within her grew a desire to create and rule a realm of her own and she often thought of Middle-Earth. While both Galadriel and Feanor were extremely prideful, her uncle was more headstrong and rash. Galadriel learned to be more wise and prudent. And she developed an almost antagonistic relationship with Feanor that would have an impact on her eventual departure from Valinor.

The evil Vala, Melkor, slayed Finwe and stole the Silmarils, taking them with him to Middle-Earth. Using the giant spider, Ungoliant, he destroyed the Two Trees of Valinor which were the only source of light to that point. Feanor and his kin took an oath to pursue Melkor, who he named Morgoth, to Middle-Earth and recover the Silmarils. He defied the Valar and this all-consuming quest led to tragedy throughout his bloodline. In fleeing Valinor, Feanor and his people attempted to take the ships of the Teleri at Alqualonde. The Teleri resisted and many were killed by the Noldor. This event was known as the "kinslaying". Though Galadriel did not take part in this atrocity - indeed, she may well have even helped defend the Teleri - she too defied the Valar and traveled with others of Finarfin's kin to Middle-Earth via a more treacherous route. More concerning Galadriel's motivations will be discussed later.

Galadriel arrived in Middle-Earth and traveled to the land of Doriath, where she had relations. Remember, her mother was of the Teleri race. Here Thingol, the brother of Olwe, took her in and it is generally accepted that this is where she met Celeborn, also a Teleri. This is the story that made it into "The Silmarillion". One account has the two meeting and marrying in Valinor and traveling to Middle-Earth together but this is contradicted by Galadriel's words in "The Fellowship of the Ring":
"[Celeborn] has dwelt in the West since the days of dawn, and I have dwelt with him years uncounted; for ere the fall of Nargothrond or Gondolin I passed over the mountains, and together through ages of the world we have fought the long defeat."
By "the West" she means that part of Middle-Earth that no longer existed. So they met in Doriath and sometime before the end of the First Age traveled East. Another account, also discared, indicated that she did not meet Celeborn until she came to Lothlorien. In Appendix B in "The Lord of the Rings" says they dwelt for a time in Lindon where Cirdan the Shipwright lived on the Eastern side of the Blue Mountains. Exactly when this happened is not clear though Tolkien suggests it was some time prior to the sack of Doriath. Dwarves had made war against Thingol over possession of one of the Silmarils that was recovered from Morgoth. It is this event that causes the initial bad blood between Celeborn and the Dwarves. His distrust of Dwarves in general and Gimli in particular was evident in Lothlorien. Galadriel, however, knowing the need for allies in the War against Sauron, being so very wise among Elves and considering her close connection to the Vala Aule, who created the Dwarves, is much more sympathetic to Gimli.

The Teleri as a race comprise the vast majority of the Elves who inhabit Middle-Earth. Other than Olwe's folk, who had traveled to Valinor, the Teleri spoke Sindarin for the most part. Galadriel speaks Sindarin because of Thingol's ban on the use of Quenya in his realm. But she was of course also fluent in Quenya, the speech of the Noldor. There was a branch of the Teleri who had refused the journey to Valinor altogether and remained East of the Misty Mountains to established a civilization in Greenwood the Great.  They were known as the Nandor.  Greenwood would later became known as Mirkwood when Sauron's power and influence began to wax in the Third Age. The Nandor were called Silvan Elves, or Wood Elves, and were ruled by Thranduil, the father of Legolas, though he himself was a Sindarin Elf who traveled East after the destruction of Beleriand.

At that time, Galadriel and Celeborn also journeyed Eastwards and founded the realm of Eregion. It is here that the events more directly related to Sauron and the War of the Ring begin...

"The History of Galadriel and Celeborn" continues in Part Two.


"Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth": An Introduction

Cynics might say that this volume is just another way to milk the success of "The Lord of the Rings". I would argue that Tolkien's creation of such a detailed other world and the extensive development of its own unique history and culture have sparked an enthusiasm by Tolkien fans to learn about as much as the author was able to create.

J.R.R. Tolkien got a relatively late start in his lifetime in creating the three-volume epic that took the world by storm. However, he had been writing about the world in which it takes place since he was a very young man. And, notwithstanding the fifteen plus years it took him to complete the books, there were so many other parts of the broader tale that were left unpublished.

Christopher Tolkien took on the daunting task of sifting through this material so that it would see the light of day. And though most of the stories that comprised the early history of Middle-Earth were in draft form, he was able to put together the early histories of Elves, Men and Dwarves in "The Silmarillion", to the delight of readers all over the world.

But there was more. Unlike the continuous flow of text that went into "The Silmarillion", Tolkien had several abandoned or partial stories that didn't quite fit into the other works. Or rather, as Christopher Tolkien puts it in the introduction to "Unfinished Tales":

"Many of the pieces in this collection are elaborations of matters told more briefly, or at least referred to, elsewhere"
Like film footage left on the cutting room floor, Tolkien's notes and unfinished manuscripts were left behind in favor of a more tightly-woven narrative. And for Tolkien, even one thousand pages was as tight as he could stand to make the story.

Roughly half of the material included in "Unfinished Tales" relates to the First and Second Ages of Middle-Earth only. In fact, much of it presents different or more elaborate versions of the stories included in "The Silmarillion". One of the difficulties in discussing such stories is that geographically they take place in a part of Middle-Earth that no longer exists after the end of the First Age as it becomes submerged beneath the ocean during the War of Wrath against Morgoth. Many readers not familiar with "The Silmarillion" would find these tales difficult to follow.

So for simplicity's sake, I'll be focusing mostly on the parts that relate to the characters, events and plot points that the average fan of "The Lord of the Rings" would already know. As such I will be focusing primarily on what is included in the section titled "The Third Age".

The nine posts address the following subjects:

  1. "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"
  2. "The Istari"
  3. "The Palantiri"
  4. "The Disaster of the Gladden Fields"
  5. "The Quest for Erebor"
  6. "The Hunt for the Ring"
  7. "The Battles of the Fords of Isen"

Unlike the chapters of "The Lord of the Rings", I'm not as familiar with the material in "Unfinished Tales" so I expect to spend considerably more time in preparing these posts. Obviously they will be fewer and less frequent than the previous entries I have done and for that I beg the reader's pardon and ask for patience.

But if you're interested, I welcome you to follow along and feel free to comment as you wish.

Now, if you'll excuse me, I'm off to begin work on "The History of Galadriel and Celeborn"...


New Activity Coming To "Tolkien Geek"...

OK, here we go.

Back when I finished the editorial “clean-up” of my posts on “The Lord of the Rings” I felt a tremendous sense of relief. I had no real plans for additional material but in the back of my mind I knew that this wouldn’t be the end.

Over the last year or so I’ve gotten a number of comments and e-mails asking if I would consider writing about other Tolkien works. One of the most common requests was “The Silmarillion”. Unfortunately, I don’t think there is any way I could take on that kind of project. “The Silmarillion” is so layered and so complex a part of Tolkien’s “history” of Middle-Earth that this would be a challenge far greater than the time and resources that I have to put into it.

But I wanted to continue. Tolkien has a way of constantly pulling you back into his world. So, I decided to create a series of posts based on selections from “Unfinished Tales of Numenor and Middle-Earth”

Why “Unfinished Tales” and why just selections?

To me this is the logical next step in exploring Tolkien’s work because this volume contains so many additional stories that relate directly to the events and characters from the War of the Ring. In fact, much of this material could very well have been made a part of the Appendices included in “The Return of the King”. It’s like finding deleted scenes among the special features on a DVD. These writings provide a nice background of additional material that help the reader appreciate the final work.

Also, “Unfinished Tales” is a collection of Tolkien’s unpublished works that span a huge block of time. Because all of the material relating to Middle-Earth’s First Age and most of the stuff dealing with the Second Age is so far removed from what most readers are familiar with in “The Lord of the Rings” I decided to stay away from that. And among what is left, there are a couple of chapters that I wasn’t all that interested in or that I referenced at length so much in my other posts that it would be too repetitive.

What I envision for this project is touching upon seven sections from “Unfinished Tales” but writing about them in roughly the order that they take place within Middle-Earth's chronology.

So even though I’ll be skipping back and forth throughout the volume’s table of contents, to the reader they will follow a natural progression. Also, because each section covers a specific story, they aren’t intertwined with any of the others. This allows me the flexibility to take my time without having to worry about getting to the next chapter within the same story like I did in the earlier posts.

Each section may take more than one post. Some will only take one. But in each case I will refer to the footnotes included in each chapter and may very well draw on other works the way I did when I blogged “The Lord of the Rings”.

Now the first thing I need to do is get a handle on the new Google version of Blogger and update the site. Then I can get things going.

So until then, thanks for your patience, and I hope to make my first entry soon.