“It Was Pity That Stayed His Hand” (Guest Post by Anne Marie Gazzolo)

Tolkien Reading Event 2019

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Tolkien and the Mysterious. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring guest posts and interviews!


As Bilbo Baggins crawls along the goblin tunnels in total darkness, he happens upon a small ring. He puts it in his pocket without much thought and continues on until he hits water. With no way to tell how deep or far across it is, he stops. He does not know he is under surveillance by an unsavory creature. That is, not until he hears it speak of how delicious he would be to eat. So meet two small beings who play such crucial roles in the fate of the Ring. Bonniejean Christensen observes:

J. R. R. Tolkien’s fallen hobbit, Gollum, is an interesting character in his own right, but the changes in his character that Tolkien made between the first edition of The Hobbit in the 1930s and second edition in the 1950s make him one of his most fascinating creations.

. . .

In The Hobbit he is one of a series of fallen creatures on a rising scale of terror. In The Lord of the Rings he is an example of the damned individual who loses his own soul because of devotion to evil (symbolized by the ring) but who, through grace, saves others. (9, 10)

In an earlier draft of The Lord of the Rings, Gandalf tells Frodo of Gollum’s pitiable state before he met Bilbo:

“Don’t you realize that he had possessed the Ring for ages, and the torment was becoming unendurable? He was so wretched that he knew he was wretched, and had at last understood what caused it. . . . Half his mind wanted above all to be rid of the Ring, even if the loss killed him. But he hated parting with it as much as keeping it. He wanted to hand it on to someone else, and to make him wretched too.” (Treason 24-25)

The wizard goes on to say Gollum would not give the Ring to the goblins. After Bilbo comes, the creature sees his chance. Gandalf hints at the other Power at work in his mention both Bilbo and Frodo were singled out as the Ring’s guardians. Through this, Gollum’s life remains safe. If anyone other than Bilbo found the fell object, it would have likely meant the wretched being’s death (Treason 25).

Gollum challenges Bilbo to a high-stakes riddle-game which reveals their respective worldviews. The hobbit speaks of life, light, and beautiful things. In retaliation, Gollum focuses for the most part on death, darkness, and decay. Bilbo likewise counters the wretched creature’s despair with hope. With the hobbit’s life in immediate peril, he cannot think as clearly as he would otherwise. But he need not, as grace provides some of the answers without his conscious thought.

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My Journey Through Tolkien’s Works (Guest Post by Short Girl)

Tolkien Reading Event 2019

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Tolkien and the Mysterious. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts!


My Journey Through Tolkien

My Journey Through Tolkien

I will be honest: I did not read The Lord of the Rings before I watched it.

My family has always been the type that reads.  Even though I’m getting up in years now, my parents still do “family read-aloud.” Each night, my mother will read a chapter or so aloud from whatever novel we’re on to my father and me. It’s a fun time. I’ve had The Chronicles of Narnia, Harry Potter, the Inkheart books, and many other classics read aloud to me over the years.

Surprisingly, though, my parents didn’t read LOTR to me before they decided we should watch it one wintry eve when I was ten or eleven. Since I had never read the books, I was supremely annoyed at the cliff-hanger that the first movie, The Fellowship of the Ring, leaves viewers on. Granted, I had watched LOTR before (the creepy cartoon version, when I was seven, at school; it scared me so I tried not to remember it), but I was still upset. A few weeks later, I goaded my parents into a nearly six-hour long double feature to watch The Two Towers and The Return of the King in order to see what happened next. I remember loving Éowyn, who slays the Witch-King. She was a super cool gal, and my prepubescent self was dazzled.

Then I read The Hobbit.

I know what you’re thinking. Hold the phone, you say, you watched the LOTR trilogy and then read The Hobbit? When are you actually gonna read the LOTR books?!?

The Hobbit was another family read-aloud book, and, as a child, I liked the imagery of the maze of caves that Bilbo finds himself in, where he sees Smeagol. I liked how small the book was but how the characters could still go on such an adventure. The other problem was that my brother owned the copy of LOTR, a thick, dog-eared one with all three books in it, and he was at college.

Eventually, though, he left his book at home, and I stole it and began reading. I was in seventh grade, and I carried the thick book around in my backpack for weeks, reading during lunch, between classes, during breakfast, and before bed. The imagery was just as dazzling, the characters just as gripping. I still loved Legolas and Gimli and Frodo and all of them. Frodo and Sam’s friendship was really important to me, especially in the tumultuous time that was middle school. I claimed my brother’s book as my own and covered it in peanut-butter stains during my excited reading.

When The Hobbit movies came out, I went to see the first one in theaters, and I was a little disappointed. I wanted to see the whole book at once, but I couldn’t! My then-boyfriend was obsessed with Tolkien, and he got me a copy of the movie for Christmas. It was nice of him, but I didn’t end up seeing the other two movies. I decided to keep the magic of The Hobbit to myself.

Even though Harry Potter was my favorite book series growing up (still is), LOTR was an important part of my development. It taught me about friendship, doing the right thing, and going on an adventure. It was part of my family culture–my brother and parents and I bonded over watching/reading it. When I heard recently that there was a movie about Tolkien coming out, I was quite excited.

Of course, I’m older now, so I have to admit the flaws of both Tolkien as a person and also his writing, but his books paved the way for me to love fantasy, try and write some of my own, and to keep on exploring.

Books offer you the opportunity to go into a another world, and The Lord of the Rings series definitely did that for me.

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About the Author

Short Girl has been blogging at Short Girl Writes (www.shortgirlwrites.wordpress.com) for a little over three years. As the name implies, she’s a short girl who writes. Her blog is focused largely on book reviews, but includes posts on other aspects of the world of reading and writing. In her spare time, she’s usually making music, knitting, or…surprise, reading books.

The Bittersweet Ending of J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings

Tolkien Reading Event 2019

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Tolkien and the Mysterious. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts!


ending of the lord of the rings discussion

When I read fantasy, I often find myself half hoping for a happy ending and half hoping that things will fall apart and go terribly wrong because, as much as I love happy endings, I sometimes have a sneaking suspicion that they’re too common, too predictable and that if the protagonist were to fail at least it would be a good plot twist.  The heroes win so much in fantasy (particularly YA fantasy, which I read a lot of) that I often assume the outcome of the book is a given, that I’m not really reading to see how things end but to see how the characters get there.  I want good to win, but I’m sometimes left wishing the villains would triumph, just to mix things up.  It’s a mental struggle I go through nearly every time I pick up a fantasy novel.

The last time I thought about my dilemma in choosing whether to cheer for good or evil (again, just for the sake of variety), it occurred to me that Tolkien’s heroes in The Lord of the Rings win.  They take the Ring to Mount Doom and toss it in, Sauron is destroyed permanently, and his armies mostly fall apart. Yet it never occurred to me to think that this ending was too boring or too predictable and needed to be “spiced up.”  And the more I thought about it, the more I realized that this is because the ending of the book comes with immense joy but also with a sense of loss because, although the future is bright in Middle-earth, things will never be quite the same.

I do want to emphasize that the ending is happy, happier than the characters and even readers might predict.  Boromir, of course, is killed by Saruman’s Uruk-hai early on, but no other members of the Fellowship die.  Frodo and Sam, who were prepared to toss the Ring into Mount Doom at the cost of their own lives, are saved.  Merry and Pippin make it through the war.  Aragorn is crowned king.  Both he and Eowyn find love.  Middle-earth is poised to flourish.  But, still, there is loss.  It just isn’t what the characters were expecting.

Fighting Sauron meant fearing death, fearing the Ringwraiths, fearing a world where all the Free Peoples were enslaved and all green things died.  Little of that came to pass.  Instead, Frodo lost peace and his sense of belonging.  Sam lost his best friend when Frodo left for the Undying Lands.  The Shire lost its innocence and sense of safety.  Middle-earth lost the Elves and ushered in the Age of Man.

The Lord of the Rings shows us that, even when we defeat great evil, one of the costs is that things can never be quite the way they were before.  Change, of course, is not necessarily bad, and maybe some of what is different will be better.  But there will always be loss.  The “good guys” win in The Lord of the Rings, but it is a bittersweet victory tinged with the loss of some beautiful things.  It’s too complex to be a “happy ending.”

Briana

“The Hands of the King are the Hands of a Healer” (Guest Post by Michael J. Miller @ My Comic Relief)

Tolkien Reading Event 2019

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Tolkien and the Mysterious. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring guest posts and interviews!


“The Hands of the King are the Hands of a Healer”-min

This is exciting!  I’ve admired Krysta and Briana’s site for ages and having the chance to write for their Tolkien Reading Event 2019 is an honor.  However, this was also an intimidating post to write.  I am a casual Tolkien reader at best – not reading The Lord of the Rings for the first time until I taught it (and when I say “it” I mean “the films” but I read the books before I taught it so only judge me half as much as you were going to when I said “films”) to my Youth Group about ten years ago.  Reading this site has given me a far deeper appreciation for not only the brilliance of J.R.R. Tolkien’s work but also the devoted nature of his fans.  So I know I’m writing for readers who know their Tolkien.  Yikes.  But I’m always up for a challenge and this gives me an avenue to write about something profound I found in the pages of The Return of the King when I first read it all those years ago – the Houses of Healing.

The Houses of Healing comprise a relatively short part of Tolkien’s work.  However, this scene struck me more than anything else in the entire story when I first read it.  It was the part which left the most vivid impression on me, too.  I think of it often.  I am in awe of the brilliant allegorical work Tolkien accomplishes here.  Obviously, as a Catholic and someone who has spent the last seventeen years – his entire adult life – studying and teaching theology, Tolkien has my respect in a special way.  Tolkien’s faith greatly influenced his life and work, producing one of the most thoughtful and expansive examples of Christian allegory in all of literature with The Lord of the Rings.  For me, the most powerful example of this allegory occurs at the House of Healing.

In The Return of the King, while the Battle of Pelenor Fields rages, Gandalf arrives at the Houses of Healing.  As he’s there, the healers are struggling to help the people brought to them, “But now their art and knowledge were baffled; for there were many sick of a malady that would not be healed; and they called it the Black Shadow, for it came from the Nazgûl.”[1]  As the people grow sicker and sicker, Gandalf waited and he watched.  “Then an old wife, Ioreth, the eldest of the women who served in that house, looking on the fair face of Faramir, wept, for all the people loved him.  And she said: ‘Alas!  if he should die.  Would that there were kings in Gondor, as there were once upon a time, they say!  For it is said in old lore: The hands of the king are the hands of a healer.  And so the rightful king could ever be known.’”[2]

BOOM.  But it gets better!

Aragorn arrives and when he comes to the Houses of Healing he instantly begins his work.  He heals Faramir,[3]  Éowyn,[4] and Merry[5] using his hands, herbs, and his voice – calling them back to him.  Then, despite his desire to rest, he hears the calls of the people and continues his work:

“At the doors of the Houses many were already gathered to see Aragorn, and they followed after him; and when at last he supped, men came and prayed that he would heal their kinsmen or their friends whose lives were in peril through hurt or wound, or who lay under the Black Shadow.  And Aragorn arose and went out, and he sent for the sons of Elrond, and together they laboured far into the night.  And word went far through the City:  ‘The king has come again indeed.’”[6]

BOOM.  What makes this – Aragorn being the one able to heal Faramir, Éowyn, Merry, and all the others – so profound isn’t simply the fact that Aragon is the king but rather that he is one of Tolkien’s central Christ figures in the story.  A Christ figure isn’t literally Christ but rather the character(s) who symbolically represents Jesus Christ in some way, shape, or form.  In The Lord of the Rings, Tolkien gives his readers three central Christ figures in Frodo, Gandalf, and, of course, Aragorn.  But of all the theological allusions in this story, all the Christological moments, it is this one which is the most significant (at least as far as I’m concerned) because it ties so directly into Jesus’ ministry.

I remember a professor of mine once saying, “What we know for certain about the Historical Jesus could fit on the back of a post card.”  It was not an original insight on his part but rather an oft repeated remark meant to underscore while we know a lot about Jesus, there is very little we can say with absolute certainty as being historically factual.  (Granted, the majority of the truth of scripture doesn’t hinge, and was never meant to, on it being historically factual.  Humanity’s greatest and most profound truths often come clearest in metaphors.)  But one of the things we do know with absolute certainty is that Jesus of Nazareth had a reputation as a mystic healer.[7]  We see reference to Jesus’ healings in the Christian scriptures, obviously, but we also see references to them in Jewish and Roman sources.  This is important from a historical standpoint as Jewish and Roman writers had no need to try to prove Jesus the Messiah or God.

As Historical Jesus theologian Marcus Borg puts it, “He was a remarkable healer: more healing stories are told about him than about anybody else in the Jewish tradition.”[8]  Speaking of Jesus’ technique, theological scholar Albert Nolan writes, “There was certainly a spontaneous concern to make some kind of physical contact with the sick person.  He touched them, took them by the hand or laid his hands on them.”[9]  The hands of the king are the hands of a healer.  By invoking this connection between healer and king, by having Aragorn enter Minas Tirith and immediately begin healing the sick, Tolkien is directly connecting him to one of the most significant and historically verifiable aspects of the ministry of Jesus of Nazareth.

We even see Aragorn employing some of Jesus’ healing techniques.  He lays his hands on Faramir, Éowyn, and Merry and he also speaks to them, calling them back and telling them it will be alright.  While less anchored in historical certainty, this too is something we see highlighted quite clearly in the Gospels.  In both the raising of Lazarus (John 11:43-44) and the raising of Jairus’s daughter (Luke 8:54-56), for example, Jesus calls to the one who has died and they come to him, alive and healthy.  He wakes them with his voice, just as Aragorn does in the Houses of Healing.

To illustrate Aragorn’s kingship in the act of healing is to tie him with knowledge and nuance to the very heart of who Jesus was.  It shows both the depth of Tolkien’s knowledge of his faith and his care in presenting it, placing an appropriately important spotlight on healing in a story of spectacular battles across bloody battlefields.  Obviously, loving this scene the way I do, I was disappointed it didn’t make it into Peter Jackson’s adaptation (there was one extended scene that didn’t even try to present it accurately! (and the movie’s like a zillion hours long! couldn’t they give me fifteen minutes of this??)) but I shouldn’t be surprised.  After all, the book is always better and when it comes to expertly weaving deeply theological threads through a narrative, no one can do it quite like J.R.R. Tolkien.


[1] J.R.R. Tolkien, The Return of the King, (Boston: Houghton Mifflin Company, 2002), 871.
[2] Ibid.
[3] Ibid., 876.
[4] Ibid., 878.
[5] Ibid., 879.
[6] Ibid., 881.
[7] Albert Nolan, Jesus Before Christianity, (New York: Orbis Books, 1976), 43.
[8] Marcus Borg, Meeting Jesus Again for the First Time: The Historical Jesus and the Heart of Contemporary Faith, (San Francisco: HarperSanFrancisco, 1994), 31.
[9] Nolan, 37-8.

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About the Author

Michael Miller writes and rambles about comic books and comic book movies (not to mention Doctor Who and Star Wars and whatever else randomly pops into his head) on his blog My Comic Relief. He teaches theology at Mercyhurst Preparatory School in Erie, PA – including classes on Star Wars as modern mythology and the intersection of comic books and social justice. Should it be your thing, you can also find him on Twitter @My_ComicRelief.

Why the “Slow” Opening of The Lord of the Rings Is So Valuable

lotr paperbacks

Introduction

Several months ago I convinced my friend to read J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings for the first time. He had seen the movies, but this would be his first time tackling the book (after a failed attempt several years back where, he insisted, the names of the characters all jumbled together). After getting through the unexpected prologue about the ways of hobbits and pipe weed, he started on the main body of the text, which he consistently grumbled about until Frodo and company finally made it to Bree.  The opening of the book, in his opinion, was slow and episodic, and it was clear why the films had chosen to streamline it (by, for instance, cutting out Tom Bombadil, the barrow wights, and some other scenes).

From a purely pacing perspective, I can see this point.  Tom Bombadil is fascinating as a part of Middle Earth, an unexplained being who seems to have been there basically since creation and who has so little interest in the One Ring that wearing it does not even make him invisible. However, is he necessary for the general plot line of getting Frodo from Point A (the Shire) to Point B (Mount Doom)? Likewise, the scenes at Frodo’s “new house” in Crickhollow and at the Barrow-downs are interesting, but one could make a compelling argument that the story “really” begins at Bree, or even at Rivendell.

Why, then, does Tolkien dedicate eight chapters (168 pages in my mass market paperback edition) just to get the hobbits to Bree?  And a full 242 pages to get them to Rivendell? (This is all of Book I, or about one sixth of the whole story, since FotR, TTT, and RotK are each divided into two Books.)  Personally, I think these chapters are integral to the character development of the hobbits and in preparing them for the “real test” of getting Frodo from Rivendell to Mordor.

From Hobbiton to Rivendell

 

Though the road from the Shire to Rivendell is fraught with dangers, and Frodo comes incredibly close to death after being wounded by a Morgul-blade on Weathertop, in many way this is a “mini adventure” somewhat on par with the adventure Bilbo took getting to the Lonely Mountain.  It is not as dangerous as the road to come will be, and it gives the hobbits a nice end goal.  After all, at the start of the story, their only stated purpose is to get the Ring to Rivendell, where hopefully wiser, braver, stronger people will decide what to do with it.

When Gandalf tells Frodo at Rivendell that “the Ring is not at rest yet,” Frodo replies, “I suppose not. But so far my only thought has been to get here; and I hope I shan’t have to go any further. It is very pleasant just to rest. I have had a month of exile and adventures, and I find that has been as much as I want.”

Earlier in Bree, Aragorn suggests the hobbits have made it so far partially because they didn’t truly understand what dangers they faced: “Perhaps I know more about these pursuers [the Black Riders] than you do.  You fear them, but you do not fear them enough, yet.” That lack of fear may have made them less cautious than they could have been, but it may also have enabled them to leave their own front doors.  After Frodo learns from Gandalf just how close he’d come to being a wraith from his Morgul-knife wound, he shudders: “Thank goodness I did not realize the horrible danger!  I was mortally afraid, of course; but if I had known more, I should not have dared even to move.”

Journeying from the Shire to Bree and then from Bree to Rivendell gives the hobbits small doses of danger and adventure where they can imagine a safe haven at the end. It helps them see what lies outside the protected borders of the Shire and shows them they have the strength and courage to meet it.  It also shows them there is great good in the world, to challenge and temper what is evil.  Seeing heroes ranging from Farmer Maggot telling off Black Riders to Fatty Bolger staying to meet the Riders in Crickhollow to Bombadil mastering Old Man Willow, the barrow wights, and the Ring itself must give the hobbits hope they otherwise never would have had. Likewise, stumbling across Bilbo’s defeated stone trolls in the wilderness must remind the hobbits they are part of a history greater than themselves and that hobbits have braved adventure before.

Conclusion

If the hobbits had set off straight from Hobbiton to Mordor, the journey surely would have been far more challenging for them. They may not even have agreed to it.  At the start of the story, they see themselves as taking on some necessary task that is unavoidable; with Gandalf failing to meet Frodo to make for Bree, there is no one to take the Ring out of the Shire if they do not.  It is only after they make this initial journey, followed by a time of rest at Rivendell, that they can truly volunteer to take the Ring to its final destination, to Mordor.

Briana

10 Reasons You Should Not Skip the Lord of the Rings Appendices

Introduction

Technically, reading the appendices that follow The Lord of the Rings is not really necessary.  An appendix, after all, contains additional information; a reader could stop after the story proper and still have the full story.  However, the Lord of the Rings appendices are far less boring than you might think.  Here are ten reasons you should not skip them the next time you pick up The Lord of the Rings.

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1

The appendices contain the story of Aragorn and Arwen.

Were you wondering how Aragorn and Arwen met?  What Elrond said when he found out?  (Hint: It is far different from what he says in the films.)  What happened to Arwen after Aragorn died?  It’s all here and it’s possibly more romantic that you thought!

2

You can read a condensed version of the Fall of Númenor.

Discover Faramir and Aragorn’s heritage by learning about the realm founded by Elros, Elrond’s brother.  Tolkien traces its gifting to Men by the Valar, their growing discontent at their mortality, and their fall, spurred on by Sauron.

Arnor and Gondor’s history is laid out in more detail.

Aragorn’s heritage is a little more complicated than readers might assume.  His ancestor is Elendil, who had two sons: Isildur and Anárion.  Initially, Elendil ruled the North-Kingdom of Arnor while his sons jointly ruled in Gondor.  Eventually the line of kings in the South failed, but the Steward refused to accept the claim of Isildur’s heir in the North-kingdom.  Isildur’s heirs faded and became the Dunedain while Gondor remained under the rule of the Stewards until Aragorn Isidur’s heir claimed the kingship.  Talk about some complicated politics!

The history of the Rohirrim and its kings is included in the appendices.

Learn how Eorl was gifted the land of Rohan by the Steward of Gondor.  Find out more about Helm, after whom Helm’s Deep is named.  Even catch some tantalizing glimpses of women like Théoden’s wife Elfhild, his mother Morwen, and his sister Théodwyn.

You Can Learn Some Dwarven History.

Tolkien’s Dwarf history contains his only named Dwarf-woman and reveals what happened to Gimli after the events of LotR.

We receive a glimpse of the Wizards and the Rings of Power.

Three Wizards are named in LotR, but more than three arrived in Middle-earth.  We receive a glimpse of them and their mission.  We also learn a little more about the forging of the Rings of Power and where they were bestowed and how some were lost or stolen.

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You can learn about Merry and Pippin’s families and declining years.

Merry and Pippin became interested in lore.  They also traveled and were honored by the lords of the realms where they had sworn loyalty.  And neither is buried in the Shire.

The lineages reveal some surprisingly interesting information.

Like the names of all twelve of Sam’s children.  The fact that Pippin named a son after Faramir.  And the marriage between one of Sam’s daughters and Pippin’s son.

Even the calendars contain fascinating tidbits.

The actual lists of years do contain passages you won’t want to miss.  This is where you will find out where Merry and Pippin are buried and what happened to Legolas at the end of his life in Middle-earth.  However, the appendix dealing solely with calendars isn’t necessarily as dull as you might think.  For instance, it reveals that the Elven year contains 144 of our years!

Languages, languages, languages.

You can pick up some easy pronunciation tips here, even if you don’t consider yourself a linguist.  For instance, “c” in Quenya is pronounced as “k” so the name “Celeborn” is pronounced “Keleborn,” not “Seleborn.”  You’ll also find a history of the languages of Men, Elves, Hobbits, Orcs, Trolls, etc. and a note on translation.  There are humorous tidbits, such as the information that the Common Speech spoken by Hobbits lacked a deferential form, so that Pippin addressed everyone in Gondor as his equals!  We also learn that some names have been translated.  Merry’s first name is really Kalimac–Kali for short!

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My Tolkien Collection (Guest Post by Emily @ Rose Read)

Tolkien Reading Event 2017

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Poetry and Songs in Tolkien’s Fiction. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts! Check out the complete schedule here.


Greetings, weblings! My name is Emily, and I blog over at Rose Read. Here’s a little about me: I am a grad student studying Library and Information Science, though I started out as a high school English teacher. I also work on MuggleNet.com, the #1 Harry Potter fan site, and I co-manage the Apparating Library Book Club for the Harry Potter Alliance. Other than books and blogging, I love musical theater, hiking, dark chocolate, Mumford & Sons, owls, and unicorns. You can follow me on Twitter and Instagram @enchntdrose or my blog at www.rosereadblog.wordpress.com! Thanks to Briana and Krysta for letting me do a guest post – let’s get started!

Today I’m going to share with you some of my most prized books in my entire personal library: my Lord of the Rings trilogy box set, which is a second edition from 1965. This set has sentimental value as well as being just really pretty. It was given to me after my childhood best friend’s grandmother passed away. My best friend and I would often spend time playing at her grandmother’s house, which was always great because she had the BEST cookies and a really cool old house to explore. One of our favorite places in the house was the basement. I remember it as a very dark, plush lounge, complete with a fancy old bar, fancy plush chairs, and a fancy, giant, old bookshelf. My friend wasn’t much of a reader, but I was always enamoured at the old bookshelf and would spend time just staring at it, afraid to touch any of the old volumes. After her grandmother died, my friend’s mom gave me this set of books from that very collection. The set still has its box and dust covers pretty much pristine. The top edges are tinted and there are pull-out maps in the back of each book. I love them more than a person probably should love inanimate objects. Behold:

Tolkien Books

Fellowship of the Ring

Lord of the Rings

Tolkien Map

Beautiful, no?

I’ve tried my best to find other Tolkien books to match these for the rest of my collection. I managed to find a Silmarillion copy that is from the same publisher, and it’s an American first edition, so it matches pretty well. Unfortunately, I do not have the dust cover, but it’s still pretty:

Tolkien Books

Then I have a first American edition copy of the Book of Lost Tales, which matches the others, too! This one does have the dust cover!

Book of Lost Tales

I sadly do not have an old Hobbit copy, but I do like the edition I have. Also pictured is A Tolkien Miscellany with short stories (that has AWESOME cover art of Smaug) and 3-Minute J.R.R. Tolkien because I am a sucker for pretty illustrated “quick guides” like these.

Tolkien Quick Guides

Tolkien Quick Guides 2

And that’s the extent of my Tolkien book collection. I know it’s probably not as large as the collections of Tolkien fans reading this post, but it is very special to me. I tried to build it around my prized trilogy set, which will forever remind me of the giant old bookshelf and the kindness of my friend’s grandmother. I tried reading different editions once, and it just felt wrong. I love the mustiness of these books and the memories they hold of the dark, plush basement – somehow the smell turns to Gandalf’s pipe-weed, and the dark basement into a candle-lit Hobbit hole, and it’s all part of the magic.

Do you have special copies of any Tolkien books? I know I can’t read any other copies than these!

How I Discovered The Fantasy Genre Through Tolkien (Guest Post by E.E. Rawls)

Tolkien Reading Event 2017

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Poetry and Songs in Tolkien’s Fiction. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts! Check out the complete schedule here.


Tolkien Books

Fantasy took on a whole other light for me the day I first met Tolkien’s work: The Lord of the Rings.

It was the year my family moved back to America from Italy—a difficult transition, as Italy had been my home for 6 years, and was the longest we had remained in one place for my dad’s job. That year was a low point in life, and I needed something encouraging, something adventurous, to lift me up. The timing of this could not have been more perfect.

There was a movie coming out in theaters called The Fellowship of the Ring. I knew nothing of it or Tolkien, but my parents seemed pretty excited about it. They couldn’t remember the whole story, so they gave me vague summaries of the series which I didn’t understand at all. But the movie’s preview showed elves and gorgeous mountains covered in snow, so I thought, “Sure, why not. I’ll go see it.” Little did I know what I was in for!

The movie began, with dark enthralling scenery and a melodic voice. My eyes grew wide as I was sucked into another world.

This was fantasy unlike anything I’d ever experienced before. I knew I liked fairies and other fantasy-ish things, but I hadn’t been deeply immersed in the fantasy genre until this moment. There were elves who were not the happy helpers of Santa. There were more-than-creepy goblins, trolls, and orcs. Grand places like the Mines of Moriah, and enchanting Lothlorien, and gorgeous Rivendell—places beyond my limited imagination! And there were hobbits, a new race of people who were the smallest of all, and a lot like me. Froddo was the only one brave enough to take on the challenge of destroying the Ring. Small as he may be, and ignorant of combat skills and traveling, yet he was the one person willing to give his life to save the world—and that captivated me. It made me see that, no matter what I lacked in ability, anything was possible if only I put my mind to it.

Once the movie ended (and on such a heartbreaking cliffhanger!), I went straight to the bookstore and bought the whole series and The Hobbit. I could not wait a whole year to find out what happened next! So I read them all within two weeks, and went looking for more great works in the fantasy genre afterward. The Lord of the Rings gave me the escape and time I needed to adjust to a new life situation, and it voiced lessons I would hold close for years.

My favorite quotes are:

“So do all who live to see such times. But that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time that is given us.”

“It’s like in the great stories Mr. Frodo. The ones that really mattered. Full of darkness and danger they were, and sometimes you didn’t want to know the end. Because how could the end be happy. How could the world go back to the way it was when so much bad had happened. But in the end, it’s only a passing thing, this shadow. Even darkness must pass. A new day will come. And when the sun shines it will shine out the clearer. Those were the stories that stayed with you. That meant something. Even if you were too small to understand why. But I think, Mr. Frodo, I do understand. I know now. Folk in those stories had lots of chances of turning back, only they didn’t. Because they were holding on to something.” (This scene touched me so much, I remember the tears in theaters!)

Even after so many years, Tolkien’s world has stuck with me, just as it has for so many of you, and is what encouraged me to begin creating my own worlds through writing. This year I hope to publish my own debut fantasy novel, and all because I went to the theater that day, long ago, and met Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings.

About the Author

E. E. Rawls is a full-time author currently residing in New England. Europe is the source of her writing inspiration, after having lived in Italy for six years. A time spent road-tripping through the Alps, exploring castle ruins and dungeons, wandering Victorian towns and tucked-away villages, discovering their hidden legends. She now lives off of coffee, games, and bookshelves, with goals to one day master the arts of drawing, riding a dragon, and speaking Tolkien’s language of the Elves.

You follow her blog at  www.rawlse.wordpress.com or sign up for to get exclusive content from her about her projects at http://eepurl.com/2F36f.

The Elf Name Generator

Tolkien Reading Event 2017

Every year on March 25, the anniversary of the Downfall of Sauron, the Tolkien Society hosts Tolkien Reading Day. This year’s theme is Poetry and Songs in Tolkien’s Fiction. The primary goal is to promote the reading of the works of J.R R. Tolkien! To celebrate, Pages Unbound will be hosting two weeks of Tolkien-related posts. In addition to our own thoughts, we will be featuring a number of guest posts!


Pick the first letter of your middle name to discover your name.

A: Enel
B: Voronwë
C: Finduilas
D: Curufin
E: Amdir
F: Indis
G: Aredhel
H: Maglor
I: Lúthien
J: Salgant
K: Elemmírë
L: Míriel
M: Nellas
N: Amarië
O: Tatië
P: Celebrían
Q: Mithrellas
R: Rúmil
S: Irimë
T: Penlod
U: Nerdanel
V: Lindir
W: Orophin
X: Gwindor
Y: Findis
Z: Finrod

Pick your favorite number to discover your title.

1. Bloodstained
2. Golden-Tongued
3. Sea-Wanderer
4. Strongbow
5. The Wise
6. Fell-Fire
7. Silver-Foot
8. The Crafty
9. Strong-heart
10. The Fatherless
11. Master of Fate
12. The White Lady/Lord
13. Ill-Advised

Pick your favorite color to discover your home.

Red: Imladris
Orange: Tirion
Yellow: Lórien
Green: Tavrobel
Blue: Gondolin
Purple: The Havens
Black: Nargothrond
White: Edhellond
Brown: Formenos
Pink: Harlond

Be sure to share you Elven name with us in the comments! You might also like this site, which tries to translate English names into Elven names.

Tolkien Elf Name Generator

Translating Tolkien: Language and Literature

When J.R.R. Tolkien was creating Middle Earth, he decided to build his world upon language. He used his knowledge as a philologist and his familiarity with over twenty languages to create unique languages for his races, and then to craft each people’s stories around those languages. While readers are familiar with the resulting Elvish dialects and the Dwarvish runic alphabet, Tolkien’s attention to his own language, the language of his novels, is perhaps less recognized. Yet the way Tolkien’s stories are written are just as important as the characters and actions they are written about. Tolkien’s work draws on Old and Middle English vocabulary and sentence structure to very deliberately create a sense of the old.

By combining older English words with modern ones, and sometimes by creating his own pseudo-archaic word forms, Tolkien gives reader a sense both that the stories of Middle Earth (The Hobbit, The Lord of the Rings, The Silmarillion) happened in the past and that they happened in an English past. Tolkien’s novels are very closely tied to his country, and his readers can close their eyes and imagine that maybe these stories really happened, sometime long ago. The language encourages a connection between the readers and the stories, and help them imagine the stories are real.

Although the task seems challenging, Tolkien’s work has, of course, already been translated into numerous languages, and while I have not yet had the privilege to read any of those editions, I do know what I would be looking for in a translation: fidelity not just to the meaning of Tolkien’s words, but also to their feel—their sense of being steeped in history. A great translation of The Lord of the Rings would feature archaic vocabulary and syntax, while still maintaining enough of a connection to the modern form of the language that the book did not feel too foreign or difficult. It would be capture all the subtle shifts in tone between each race of people, from the whimsy of the Hobbits to the seriousness of the Dwarves and the formality of the Elves. It would use language to bring Tolkien’s world to life.

Good stories impact people—move them, inspire them, and challenge them. Good translations help make those stories available to a larger audience, so more of us can be inspired.  Translation services like Smartling can help do that.