October 24, 2015

Middle-earth Map Annotated by Tolkien Discovered!

Click to expand
In what's being called "the finest piece of Tolkien ephemera to emerge in the last 20 years," a small bookstore has uncovered a rare treasure, a map of Middle-earth annotated by Tolkien himself...

September 24, 2015

Come Hear Middle-earth Music Performed Live THIS WEEKEND in Raleigh, NC!

My report from the North Carolina Symphony's amazing live FotR concert is still coming.  But, life happens and I've been very busy lately, especially with another event regarding music from Middle-earth...

September 22, 2015

Happy Hobbit Day! - Activity/Meal Ideas

While the world knows today as September 22nd, us Hobbit fans worldwide take the date to celebrate some of our favorite stories by J.R.R. Tolkien, especially the ones containing halflings.  Within the legendarium, today marks the very important occasion of both Bilbo and Frodo Baggins' birthdays.  In the real world this date lies within "Tolkien Week" (which begins the Sunday before the 22nd) and one day after The Hobbit's publication anniversary.  This year, 2015, marks the 78th anniversary since the adventure of Bilbo Baggins was available to readers in the UK!  You can join me and thousands of other fans worldwide by celebrating today and all week long!  Need a few ideas to get started?  Below are some of my favorite Hobbit Day activities.

September 10, 2015

Join Me At The Fellowship of the Ring In Concert!

One of the most beloved and critically acclaimed aspects of Peter Jackson's divisive hexalogy of Middle-earth films has been the sweeping, emotional and intricate music composed by the award-winning Howard Shore.  But, perhaps the best award Shore has received for his work is the continued popularity of his music.  The score for The Lord of the Rings films is standing the test of time and one of the best evidences of that are the numerous live concerts held worldwide by major symphony orchestras.  And finally, one of those performances will be held near me...

August 29, 2015

Tolkien on the Beginning of The Hobbit

The Hobbit is one of the most popular books ever written with 140.6 million copies sold worldwide, a total that puts it in third place on the all-time record charts under A Tale of Two Cities and The Lord of the Rings.  As many Tolkien fans already know, the classic children's novel first began when Tolkien randomly scribbled, "In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit."  This is all common knowledge.  But, thanks to a BBC documentary from the 1960s, we have the chance to hear Tolkien tell the story of how it all started in his own words...

August 25, 2015

BoFA Extended Edition Coming November 17 - Press Release

Warner Bros. has finally published a press release detailing the distribution for the Extended Edition of The Battle of the Five Armies.

August 13, 2015

The Real Amon Rudh: Pilot Mountain

Detail from Turin and His Band  are Led to Amon Rudh by Ted Nasmith and the peak of Pilot Mountain, NC

Amon Rudh, one of the most striking geological features in Tolkien's works, is, like nearly everything else in his legendarium, strongly influenced by reality (the "primary world").  Such solitary peaks like this one featured in chapters seven and eight of the tragic tale, The Children of Hurin, are rarely found, but one mountain in particular bears striking resemblance to the Bald Hill, Pilot Mountain...

August 7, 2015

The Evenstar - Separating Book From Film

Peter Jackson's film adaptations of Tolkien's works are known throughout the fan-community to be full of invented material.  In many instances this was required to successfully tell the story in another medium while the benefits of other additions are left up to debate.  One of the more interesting and arguably successful changes (from a film standpoint) was the use of the Evenstar stone.  Given to Aragorn by Arwen in The Fellowship of the Ring film, it was later used throughout the trilogy as a visual reminder of Arwen and her relationship to the future King when the two characters were hundreds of miles apart.  But, how much of this is actually in the book?

August 4, 2015

The Hobbit Extended Editions Coming to Cinemas This October - Plus Runtime and Rating!

Reports are coming in that Extended Editions of all three Hobbit movies (including The Battle of the Five Armies) will be shown in select cinemas this October...

August 1, 2015

Review: The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings

Last month, two of my loving, thoughtful and generous grandparents surprised me with a newly published book by Philip and Carol Zaleski titled, The Fellowship: The Literary Lives of the Inklings.  I quickly devoured it (while still savoring every chapter) and now I have finally gotten around to tying up some of my thoughts about the volume to post something new on Musings of a Tolkienist, a book review.

July 29, 2015

Introducing Disqus Comments

The Tolkien community is an incredibly thoughtful and intelligent group of fans, so its been no surprise to see such insightful comments left by visitors here over the year this blog has existed.  These thoughts, ideas and questions have been left using Blogger's default comment system which works, but leaves some features to be desired.  So, after much thought and deliberation, Musings of a Tolkienist is moving on to DISQUS.

July 24, 2015

How Old Did Frodo Really Look?

19-year old Elijah Wood on the set of The Fellowship of the Ring
One of the favorite "bashing points" used by Lord of the Rings fans with purist tendencies concerns Frodo's age.  In The Lord of the Rings book his age when he left the Shire is explicitly stated as 50, but 19-year old Elijah Wood certainly did not look the part when PJ & Co. casted him in the role of Frodo Baggins.  However, the filmmakers might not have been quite as off as some would like to think...

July 16, 2015

Hobbit Origins: The Catalog of Dwarves

An Unexpected Party by John Howe
During the semester-long course on The Hobbit that I taught earlier this year for middle-schoolers we looked at many of the real historical sources that inspired Tolkien's own mythology.  Every few weeks here on Musings of a Tolkienist I've been summarizing our discoveries on specific topics and posting what we learned.  Earlier this spring we took a look at the postcard that inspired the character of Gandalf and last month I shared what we learned about trolls.  This month's topic features the dwarves...

July 15, 2015

Follow Musings of a Tolkienist on Social Media!

Along with a facelift to the main site I've also launched social media profiles for Musings of a Tolkienist.  Now you can follow along and receive the latests posts and news with your Facebook or Google+ account.

July 1, 2015

More Middle-earth Films To Be Announced At San-Diego Comic Con 2015?

Now that the Middle-earth movies have (seemingly) come to an end (with the exception of the BoFA Extended Edition release later this year), many fans have begun to settle down and go back to the books while looking back over an exciting era in Tolkien fandom.  However, Hollywood may not be finished with Tolkien's world yet...

June 29, 2015

4 Observations of Umbar

Corsair Ship by John Howe
The people, culture and history of realms such as Gondor, Rohan, Rivendell and the Shire are well known to even the more casual Middle-earth fans, but Tolkien's world is much deeper and wider than those few nations.  One of these has a particularly interesting history in regard to the story of The Lord of the Rings, though the land itself is often cut off the map...

June 23, 2015

The Battle of the Five Armies Edition Coming November 16?

We may finally now know the release date for the Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies...

In Memory of James Horner

Aside from the new book announcement, Tolkien news has been pretty depressing these past few months with the deaths of Andrew Lesnie, Sir Christopher Lee and now James Horner.  

Wait... What!?  What does the composer of Titanic and Avatar have to do with Middle-earth?

June 18, 2015

June 8, 2015

Why don't elven swords glow blue in the movies?

It's an incredibly nerdy question that plagues my viewing of the Middle-earth films.  But, this is a geeky Tolkien blog after all so I suppose it's appropriate...

May 30, 2015

Hobbit Origins: Trolls

Over the course of the semester-long Hobbit class I taught for middle-schoolers earlier this year we looked at many of the different legends and ancient stories that inspired Tolkien's mythology.  For this Origins post here on MOAT I'm taking another look at one of our favorite topics, trolls...

May 13, 2015

The Dol Guldur Sequence That Almost Was

It's well known that Peter Jackson's films are in a constant state of flux up until the last minute (literally!).  Scripts, designs, edits, sound, schedules and even the number of installments of a series have been changed very late in the production process.  It's not surprising then to learn that the famous (or infamous depending on your viewpoint) White Council scene went through some major and interesting revisions in the years leading up to release...

May 12, 2015

Back to Blogging!

Finally!  My stressful month is coming to an end!  As a homeschooler I still continue school though the summer, but now that one quartet, finals, extra classes, philharmonic and end of year testing is almost done I can finally start thinking about my Tolkien blog again.  I'm still going to be incredibly busy with "normal" school, a quartet, arranging music and the production of a short film, but I'm going to be making a concerted effort to post at least a couple times a month.

March 25, 2015

Celebrate Tolkien Reading Day!

Happy New Year!  It may not be the start of our own calendar year, but today begins a new Gondorian year.  Marking the day Sauron fell in the year 3019 of the Third Age, Gondorians set aside time to celebrate and remember the historic event by starting their year on March 25.

March 14, 2015

Fantastic Fan-Arranged LotR Sheet Music

Manna lelyale Voromire?
Being both an avid musician and an extreme Tolkien geek means I'm often on the lookout for arrangements of my favorite (read: any) parts of the Middle-earth soundtracks.  For this post I thought I'd share two of my favorite resources with you...

February 22, 2015

Hobbit Origins: The Gandalf Postcard

As a few of you reading this already know, this semester at our homeschool co-op I am teaching a class on The Hobbit for middle-schoolers.  That, along with a number of other distractions and priorities, is why I have been unable to post very often lately.  Unfortunately, this mild "post-drought" will probably have to continue until the end of the school-year.  However, as our class journeys with Bilbo through Wilderland I'd like to share some of the things we discover with you, my blog audience.  So, without further ado, here is an interesting piece we looked at a few weeks ago, the origin of Gandalf:

January 18, 2015

How Should The Silmarillion Be Filmed?

As I explained in my last post, "What's Next For The Middle-earth Franchise?", it's only a matter of time before The Silmarillion becomes available to filmmakers.  That amount of time could pass very quickly or in several decades.  Nevertheless, we will eventually see tales from the Silmarillion mythology on the big (or small) screen.  During the past month I've thought a lot about The Silmarillion and how it could be successfully adapted.  In the rest of this post I share some of my thoughts on how I think it should be handled and discuss some of the more difficult challenges one very (un)lucky director would have to overcome.

January 13, 2015

What's Next For The Middle-earth Franchise?

After a decade of seeing Peter Jackson's cinematic Middle-earth come to the silver screen it seems as if we've come to the end of the road.  But is it really?  Ever since December rumours have been swirling about a continuation of the Middle-earth Saga.  While these current rumours are probably all false (most of them have spread from people misquoting actors and crew) I can't imagine Warner Brothers will just leave their billion-dollar franchise alone for long.  So where could it all go from here?

January 12, 2015

Gundabad - What was that exactly?

"The Battle of the Five Armies" spoiler warning!

The Battle of the Five Armies surprised me in many ways.  I already dealt with the most jarring embellishment, the Were-worms, in an earlier post.  Now I turn towards that fortress Legolas and Tauriel travelled to in the film.  Unlike the aforementioned worms, Gundabad plays a significant role in the the story of Middle-earth.  However, that role is a bit different in the book(s) than in the movie so in this post I want to take a look at the mountain/fortress as Tolkien described it, uncover its rich history, and compare that to the version Peter Jackson depicted.

Gundabad as seen in "The Battle of the Five Armies"

January 3, 2015

Happy Birthday Tolkien!

On this day in 1892, 123 years ago, one of the greatest authors of modern times was born in Bloemfontein, South Africa.  His name? J.R.R. Tolkien...