annathepiper: (Good Book)

I finished my re-read of The Silmarillion over the long weekend, so here are some more thoughts about what I noticed this time through!

Tolkien Re-Used Names, Like, A LOT

Here is a short list of names I totally recognized from The Lord of the Rings, and which still to this day cause me a little cognitive dissonance when I see them outside that story:

  • Minas Tirith
  • Echthelion
  • Denethor
  • Glorfindel

And hell, even within this specific book, the name Míriel shows up twice: once as the mother of Fëanor, and once as the last ruling Queen of Númenor.

The First Age Was Surprisingly Short

A big chunk of the book is devoted to the Quenta Silmarillion proper, which is the part of it easily conflated with the overall title. It’s in this part that the big highlights of the book happen–notably, the tale of Beren and Lúthien, and the tale of Turin. And, of course, the First Age is all about the Silmarils, as well as the smackdown eventually finally delivered to Morgoth.

But given this, if you look at the overall timeline of the world of Arda (which is what the world Middle-Earth is on is actually called), the First Age is surprisingly short compared to the other ages of the world. It’s only about 590 years long, compared to the multiple thousands of years that lead up to the First Age, and how the Second and Third Ages are both over three thousand years in length.

Yep, Still Love Me Some Beren and Lúthien

This really goes without saying, but I’ll say it again anyway. 😀 Here are the things about which Lúthien has zero fucks to give:

  • Her father trying to lock her up to keep her away from her man
  • The sons of Fëanor trying to lock her up to keep her away from her man
  • Morgoth himself trying to keep her away from her man
  • Her man trying to leave her behind on the mistaken assumption that he can handle going on a Silmaril-hunting quest all by himself
  • Death itself trying to keep her away from her man

And she is delightful from start to finish. It was a joy to be reminded as well about how friggin’ powerful she is–she uses her “arts” to grow her own hair Rapunzel-style to break out the high tree-house her father locked her up in, and then for good measure takes that hair, slaps a sleep-spell on it, and makes herself a cloak that she uses a bunch later to take down anybody in her way.

And she pretty much sings Morgoth’s crown right off his head, since she knocks him out with her power. Fuck yeah, daughter of Mélian!

Speaking of Mélian

I noticed and appreciated her more throughout this re-read. She’s on record as being the only one of the Maiar to fall in love with one of the Children of Iluvatar, enough that she bothered to physically incarnate herself so that she could be with Thingol. She is also on record as being the major power in Middle-Earth that Morgoth actually fears. Which is impressive, given that he’s a Vala on the order of Manwë himself, and she’s a Maia, and in theory of “lesser” degree.

Shoutout to the Women of the Silmarillion in General

This time through I noticed way more women having active things to do than I really remembered. Mélian and Lúthien are obvious, as is Nienor/Niniel in the tale of Turin and Elwing in the tale of Eärendil. But there are other women of note scattered all throughout the story, and who, even if they’re only passingly mentioned, clearly have an impact on the events that unfold:

  • Nerdanel, wife of Fëanor
  • Haleth, leader of the Haladin, who rules her people as a chieftain and who never marries
  • Morwen Eledhwen, wife of Húrin, mother of Túrin
  • Aredhel, wife of Eöl, mother of Maeglin
  • Emeldir the Manhearted, mother of Beren, who brings her people to safety at the urging of her spouse Barahir
  • Galadriel!
  • Míriel Ar-Zimraphel of Númenor, whose rightful place as Queen is usurped by her husband, and who tragically drowns in the sinking of Númenor by Iluvatar

And Emeldir as well as Galadriel are examples of Tolkien’s making his bolder females get nicknamed in ways that invoke masculinity–Galadriel’s mother names her Nerwen, “man-maiden”, in reference to her height and strength. Part of me is irritated at this conflation of strength and masculinity, I must admit, and yet!

Let it also be noted that before it finally fell, some of Númenor’s rightful rulers were in fact women.

Tuor and Idril Don’t Get Nearly Enough Camera Time

After the awesomeness of the tale of Beren and Lúthien, the second recorded joining of an Elf and a Man, Tuor and Idril, seems regretfully anticlimactic. Tuor basically shows up in Gondolin, hangs out for a few years, and gets permission to wed Idril, Turgon’s daughter. But there’s very little there to show why these two characters loved each other to begin with, and Idril’s marrying Tuor is mostly contrasted to how she doesn’t want to marry Maeglin.

Plus, at least for me as a reader, their story is eclipsed by the fall of Gondolin in general. Maeglin’s part of this I get, just because it’s his being captured by Morgoth’s forces that leads to Gondolin’s location being revealed. Maeglin’s motivations aren’t exactly complicated, but in contrast to him, Tuor and Idril are even less well sketched out. And that does a disservice, I feel, to the second recorded joining of Elf and Man EVER, not to mention the parents of Eärendil.

I do at least like that Idril had some agency in encouraging Tuor to make a secret way out, in case disaster befell. (Which it did.) And I also like that Tuor and Idril apparently eventually went into the West and were allowed to stay, despite Tuor being mortal, which I had forgotten. Tuor managed to get himself counted among the Firstborn, which, well done there.

Elwing: Also Pretty Awesome

Eärendil gets a lot of the press in his tale, as well as repeated mentions over in The Lord of the Rings–but re-reading his tale this time through, I had renewed appreciation for his wife Elwing. This woman, rather than give up the Silmaril she possesses to Fëanor’s remaining sons, tosses herself into the sea to escape. At which point she is transformed into a great white bird, which lets her fly to Valinor and eventually catch up with her husband.

Thus she gets to carry on the tradition of women being awesome in the family tree of Beren and Lúthien, as seems entirely befitting for the mother of Elrond.

More to Come

All of these thoughts are for events in the First Age–but I’ve got more to come regarding events in the Second Age. So I’ll put that into another post!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (A Star Shines)

So since I have this lovely new Beren and Luthien book to go through, it seemed to me that before I dive into it, it would behoove me to remind myself of the version of the tale I’m most familiar with: i.e., the one that appears in The Silmarillion. Which, of course, means that it’s TOTALLY time for a re-read of same!

(By which I mean, I’m just going to read it again–not actually do a Reread series of posts–at least for now. I may change my mind later! Persons who want to argue in favor of me doing a formal Silmarillion Reread, you are welcome to do so. I may hold on this though until I can score a French edition!)

I’ve just barely started but here are a few things I have been reminded of, or never really noticed before, now that I’m going through the book again:

  1. My ebook edition has additional intro sections that do not appear in my paperback: “Preface to the Second Edition”, and “From a Letter by J.R.R. Tolkien to Milton Waldman, 1951”. The Preface, which is dated 1999, is Christopher Tolkien discussing why he felt it appropriate to include the letter. And the letter itself is the one which, it turns out, includes this wonderful quote: “I would draw some of the great tales in fullness, and leave many only placed in the scheme, and sketched. The cycles should be linked to a majestic whole, and yet leave scope for other minds and hands, wielding paint and music and drama.” This is the very quote Dara and I have noted before as an argument in favor of Tolkien totally intending his world to be a mythos to which other people could eventually contribute. It’s delightful to see it here.
  2. There is a female equivalent of “Vala” (singular) and “Valar” (plural): “Valië” and “Valier”. I see “Valier” getting used exactly once in the initial chapters, so this is very easy to overlook. My amusement here though is that after several consecutive years of studying French, I totally want to pronounce “Valier” like a French verb.
  3. There isn’t much in the way of character development for any of the Valar, but hey, that’s okay, we’re operating at a mythic and epic level in the opening chapters, so it’s difficult to zoom in on specific characters. I am nonetheless amused at Aulë and Yavanna arguing about his creation of the Dwarves.
  4. For that matter, I’m amused once again at Aulë jumping the gun and making the Dwarves before he had any actual authority to do so. He’s all “Hey Eru I made these guys because I love you and want to be like you and also I wanted some friends OH SHIT Eru is mad should I smash them?” And Eru realizes Aulë’s not actually trying to be malicious, so he lets him keep the Dwarves, only with the caveat that they don’t get to really wake up and exist until after Elves and Men have shown up.
  5. So really, the TL;DR version of the entire Middle-Earth mythos boils down to “Eru and all his angels had a giant jam session, only Melkor got pissy because he wanted a solo”.
  6. There are more named female characters actually doing things even in the opening stretches of this thing than I remembered. Yavanna and Varda both have on-camera action, Yavanna creating the Two Trees and Varda lighting all the stars. Mélian meets up with Thingol. And we even get a passing mention of Nerdanel, the spouse of Fëanor, who at least at first was the only person capable of restraining his more asshole-ish impulses.
  7. Nonetheless, Fëanor? Any way you slice it, total asshole. I mean, dude, c’mon. We get that you’re proud of your Shiny Holy Jewels and your artistic accomplishment, but Yavanna is asking you to your face if she can use them to resurrect the Two Trees. Which are the original source of the light you put into your Shiny Holy Jewels to begin with. And that’s only Fëanor just getting started on being an asshole.
  8. Galadriel! Ten chapters in and she’s not getting much in the way of on camera action, but she is totally there, and called out by name alongside her brothers. Note is made that her branch of the Noldor hang back from the Kinslaying, but Galadriel totes wants to go back to Middle-Earth and have her very own little realm to rule.
  9. I learned a new word: coëval. Which apparently means “contemporary to/the same age as”, and it’s used in describing Melkor in relation to Manwë. Because even after all this time I can still notice new words when reading Tolkien. <3

The ebook’s got some formatting issues for chapter titles, which is a bit irritating; I may have to crack into the ebook and fix those titles, just for my personal reading satisfaction.

Also, given that I’m about to go to Quebec next month, I may have to see if I can hunt down a French translation! Because I have French translations now of both The Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings, so clearly I need one of The Silmarillion for my collection. 😀

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Good Book)

Noting this as I actually bought a couple of print books from Third Place the other day–things that fall into the general category of Authors Who Are Absolutely Vital For Me to Have In Print. The people for whom a lack of access to their books would make me sad, whether due to power outage or loss of reading devices or what have you.

The first of these purchases was In the Labyrinth of Drakes, Book Four in Marie Brennan’s excellent Memoirs of Lady Trent series. I’ve actually already read this and I did indeed love it immensely, but I definitely wanted the Lady Trents in print. And this one finally was available in trade now that the hardcover of Book Five is out.

Beren and Luthien

Beren and Luthi

Much more importantly, I acquired a hardback copy of the new Tolkien release, Beren and Luthien!

Y’all know my love of Tolkien, and you’ll probably also remember that I’m particularly fond of the tale of Beren and Luthien, which is hands down my favorite thing in the whole of The Silmarillion.

Relatedly, when Christopher Tolkien released the excellent Children of Hurin version of the other big tale from The Silmarillion–the tale of Turin Turambar–I nabbed that in hardback. I’ve said before how I had to have that in hardback just for the gorgeous illustrations, and out of general appreciation of the beauty of the work that went into putting that book together as an object.

So given all of these things together, you better believe I had to jump on the Beren and Luthien release.

Fair warning though to fellow Tolkien fans who may be covetously eying this release too: it is not cheap. (I got the hardback for $30.00, and while I could have gotten it for substantially cheaper at Barnes and Noble, I made a point of buying it from Third Place instead because local-to-my-house indie bookstores are love.) If you want that hardback and you’re more budget-pinched than I am, be aware you’ll get it for much cheaper on Amazon or with B&N, both of whom are showing prices for it around $18.

Likewise, the ebook is stupidly expensive right now. It’s clocking in at $16.99, and that price is the main reason I haven’t already nabbed this release as well in digital form. Do not mistake me: I will also be buying this book in digital form, because a) Tolkien pretty much would top the list of authors I require in both formats, and b) under no circumstances am I taking the hardback out of the house. But that price annoys me, as it’s yet another indicator of the return of agency pricing, and I have an ongoing gripe with the publishing industry seeming bound and determined to piss off digital readers by making ebooks as expensive as possible.

I’m genuinely torn, though, as to whether Tolkien is worth it to me to shell out for the ebook at that price anyway; if any author merits doing that out of all my favorites, it’s Tolkien.

Either way, the ebook edition will eventually be joining my collection too. And that’ll likely be the way I read it, just because I do most of my reading on commutes.

For now, that’s two additional book purchases to add to the tally this year, which has been quite small. (I’m actually trying to make an effort to put a dent in the backlog of books I actually own, doncha know.) 17 for the year.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Good Book)

Finally, another post in the Bilingual Lord of the Rings Reread series! This post provides my commentary on the French edition of The Fellowship of the Ring, and specifically on Chapter 1.

As I get into the bilingual commentary on these chapters, I’m going to be following a similar format to what I’m doing in the Harry Potter Reread posts. So I’ll be borrowing many of the same headers I’m using on that series!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Good Book)

Welcome back to my reread of The Lord of the Rings! As I’ve posted in my previous post, this reread is now bilingual, since I’ve been regretting not doing that properly for a while. And since I do have French editions of this trilogy, though not German editions yet, so it’s bilingual instead of trilingual.

To refresh your all’s memories, my commentary post on the Prologue of Fellowship is here. To this, I will now add some commentary about what it says in the French edition! I’m going to do this similarly to how I’ve been doing the Harry Potter reread posts, limiting the lingual commentary a bit so that I can keep the length of the posts down to something manageable.

So here we go! This is mostly going to be a bunch of commentary about various worldbuilding terms, given that they’ll be important once we get into the story proper. Once I’m past the prologue I’ll kick into the format I want to use for these posts.

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (A Star Shines)

Y’all may have noticed that I’ve been dragging my feet on doing the Lord of the Rings reread posts. This is because I’ve also got the trilogy in French, and I’ve been vexed at myself for not doing a proper bilingual reread since I’ve got the French versions available!

So I’m waking these posts up again, but I’m going to do it moving forward with covering what I can pick up out of the French editions as well. I’m going to format the posts similarly to what I’m doing in the Trilingual Harry Potter Reread–i.e., limiting the lingual discussion to “five general things noted in the French edition” and “five worldbuilding things noted”. This will be in the interests of trying to keep the post lengths down to as reasonable a length as possible, and also to help me actually try to do them in a reasonable time frame.

My next post is going to be a catchup to get to the point where I left off in the English edition, which is to say, the hobbits are about to meet Tom Bombadil.

For the interested, my French edition of The Fellowship of the Ring is this one, or at least has this cover; the ISBN on my copy doesn’t match this one on Goodreads:

La Communauté de l'Anneau (Le Seigneur des Anneaux, #1)

Now that I’ve completed another rewatch of the movies, though, I am now totally in the mood for this. So let’s do this, shall we? Next post is about to drop!

(And the only reason this isn’t a full Trilingual Reread, by the way, is that I don’t own copies of the trilogy in German. YET.)

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (A Star Shines)

I am quite behind on doing this, but I’ve finally gotten a chance to watch all of the Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies. And I can report with distinct satisfaction that it is definitely a more coherent cut of the movie than the one which was released in the theaters, which makes a clean sweep of my preferring the Extended Edition of all six of Jackson’s Middle-Earth movies.

As a general reminder my review posts for the theatrical cut are here and here, two posts since I saw it twice in the theaters. And by and large my overall opinion of the movie hasn’t changed much. So I’m going to focus instead on what the EE version brings to the table in this post.

Obviously, there are spoilers in this post for both versions of the movie, so if you haven’t seen Five Armies at all and you think you might want to, you might want to hold off reading this until then. Spoilers behind the fold!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Good Book)

It has been far too long since I’ve done a post in the LotR Reread, and it’s high time I did something about that. I’ll admit to some reluctance to slog through Tom Bombadil, mind you. But still, no particular excuse for letting it go this long! So let’s get to it, shall we?

Back at the end of Chapter 4, we’d finally gotten Merry to show up, bringing all four of the main hobbit characters on camera at last. And as Chapter 5 opens, the good Meriadoc takes charge of things and brings the others right into…

… an infodump about the history of Buckland. Mercifully, though, it’s a pretty short infodump even by Tolkien’s standards. And I rather do like the namecheck of Gorhendad Oldbuck. Which is a pretty magnificent name, I gotta say. It sounds exactly like the name a hobbit patriarch and founder of a family line should have. Though I also wonder what he got called when he was young. Gorry? Henny? Also curious as to why he renamed himself Brandybuck, unless it’s for the obvious reason of “little dude liked his brandy”, which would after all be very hobbit-like.

Then we cut back to actual action. Comparatively speaking. We briefly have Sam wishing that “Mr. Frodo could have gone on living quietly at Bag End”. I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again: oh my dear Sam. You have no idea.

Worth also noting, particularly after the last couple years that I spent re-reading The Hobbit: it’s Sam here wishing that Mr. Frodo could have stayed at home, not Frodo himself. Which is a bit of a refreshing change of pace from Bilbo constantly wishing he was back in the Shire, innit?

And why hello there Gollum. I’d forgotten that Gollum, following Frodo and the Ring, shows up this early in the story–my last several visits to the tale being in movie form rather than with the actual text. Not that Frodo actually seems to know who or what is following; only that something is. Nor can I blame him for not cluing in, given that it has after all been some years since his last conversation with Gandalf. He can be excused for not immediately realizing that Gollum could still be at large. Especially since he’s had much more recent reason to be wary of Black Riders, enough so that he’s anxious about whether horses can cross the Brandywine.

Though ha, spoke too soon. As soon as the hobbits reach Frodo’s new digs at Crickhollow, Frodo does in fact wish he was really getting to stay there.

I cannot resist my inner MST3K voice putting in “no one will be admitted during the exciting bathing sequence”, ’cause that part of me’s all cripes, can we get on with the actual plot already? Still, it’s pretty charming thinking of Pippin singing at the top of his lungs while he’s taking a bath. Particularly now that Pippin’s voice will be forever provided by Billy Boyd in my head.

One big thing, though, saves this chapter from being useless to me–Merry and Pippin both being all “well duh of course we knew you were about to leave the Shire.” This is not something we get in the movies, which play Merry and Pippin as being way less on top of things at the start of the journey. Movie!Merry and Movie!Pippin pretty much stumble into the quest. Book!Merry and Book!Pippin, on the other hand, are very much on top of things. Merry even knows about the Ring. And to top it all off, Sam is totally in on the plotting, and the three of them together are no match for Frodo’s wobbly resolve to head off all by himself.

We get a second little song in this chapter, and this one’s explicitly a callback to the Misty Mountains song from The Hobbit, and explicitly set to the same tune. Which means that now of course I try to read it and set it to the tune that the Hobbit movies used. I’m not entirely sure that works for me, either. The lyrics don’t quite scan to that melody, and the melody itself is too somber to quite fit the mood of the scene as written.

There are links on YouTube for the soundtrack from the 1977 Hobbit movie, including one for the Misty Mountains song, and that one scans better to the lyrics Tolkien gives in this chapter. Still, that tune is also rather somber given the determined cheer of Merry and the others pledging their assistance to Frodo.

But then, you could also make an argument for a somber tune being appropriate, too–because it’s not like Frodo’s holding back on warning the others that dangerous shit is about to go down. Hell, we even get a dire hint that poor Fatty Bolger isn’t going to be immune from danger either, and he’s the one on tap to stay behind and keep up the pretense that Frodo is inhabiting his new house.

We close with Frodo deciding that he’s setting out at first light in the morning, and everyone retiring to bed. Frodo has a disquieting dream, one which includes a tall white tower. It’s an interesting question as to what that tower is supposed to represent; googling for it, I find multiple links wherein Tolkien fandom discusses this very question. One such is on the Forums at TheOneRing.net here.

Next up: Chapter 6, in which the Old Forest demonstrates that yeah, actually, it’s about as scary as Fatty Bolger was making it out to be.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Good Book)

As y’all know, I am partial to the whole Tauriel/Kili romance in the Hobbit movies, and I have this idea for a short piece in my head wherein Tauriel must go to Dís and bring her news of the deaths of both her sons and her brother. I’m seeing this as perhaps Tauriel’s last act before she bails for Valinor—or perhaps thinks she’s about to bail for Valinor. I can totally see her and Dís teaming up together to roam Middle-Earth for a while in shared grief and companionship. It could even be a parallel to Legolas and Gimli, later. And mostly I just have an urge to write about female dwarves.

But while I’m on the topic of Middle-Earth fanfic, Dara and I got into discussing a potential AU last night after I finished rewatching the first half of The Two Towers. I was struck anew by the scene in which Sméagol banishes his darker Gollum-self—and how for a very short time, he’s just so happy. “Sméagol is free!”

And then of course it goes back to hell after Faramir’s men are so harsh to him. Gollum becomes the dominant personality once more. But Dara and I wondered: what if that hadn’t happened? How would the scene at Mount Doom played out differently?

I can see Frodo maybe beating down poor Sam just before he proclaims, “The Ring is mine!”—but then, Dara and I decided, Sméagol would put a hand on his shoulder to stop him.

And he says, “I know. Let the Precious burn.”

I. Not we. Because now that I have finished my reread of the books, I am reminded that Tolkien did indeed use pronouns as a marker of Sméagol’s mental state. And in this version of the story, he would have become more stable than he’d been in centuries.

The Eagles would have had three small travelers to rescue, not two.

Dara and I think that perhaps Sméagol could not have handled going back to the Shire, and that perhaps Gandalf would have taken him into his care—properly this time, not as a prisoner. And as he is finally free of the Ring, I see Sméagol learning to welcome the touch of sunlight once more. Remembering the taste of fresh bread. Maybe even being able to touch things made by the elves without pain.

But Sméagol, much, much older than Bilbo, would quickly start to age and draw near to his death. And he would have been on that final boat to Valinor, ancient, wizened, and so fragile that he might not even have been able to walk. Perhaps Gandalf would have carried him.

Yet he would have been granted a place on that boat. And a place in Valinor. Because at the end of the day, he too was a Ringbearer. And he paid his penance for the slaying of Déagol, for all the many long, dark years that he kept the Ring under the Misty Mountains.

As the Fourth Age began and the War of the Ring passed into the legends of Men, Sméagol’s name would have been spoken alongside that of Frodo Baggins and Samwise Gamgee. He would have been hailed as a hero for having kept the Ring from Sauron—secret and safe, for five hundred years, even though it nearly destroyed his mind.

Don’t get me wrong; I would not trade a single word of the narrative as actually written.

But this makes for one hell of an AU. Sméagol. Sing his name, sons and daughters of the free peoples of Middle-Earth. Remember him with honor.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Good Book)

The earliest chapters of Fellowship of the Ring are a stretch of the book that diverge the most from the movie. I remember to this day being surprised by the movie version of the tale, and how quickly it has Frodo setting off at Gandalf’s urging; there’s very little sense in the movie of time passing. In the book, though, Frodo does not in fact set out on the great quest for several years.

It’s an interesting pacing decision, and yet another example of things that I don’t think a lot of modern authors could get away with. Many years are covered in Chapter 2, “The Shadow of the Past”, years in which everyone in the Shire has plenty of time to gossip about Bilbo’s disappearance and to form opinions on what it means for Frodo as well. Frodo, too, has time to develop his own reputation for oddity. After Chapter 1’s description of how Bilbo looked amazingly well preserved for a hobbit of eleventy-one, it leaps right out to the reader’s eye that Frodo, too, shows no apparent sign of aging. I can only imagine the Ring going .oO (La la la), biding its time, since we see in this chapter that Frodo has in fact been carrying it around.

We get another community gossip scene, this time led by Sam Gamgee, and giving him fuel to go pay rather closer attention to what’s going on with Mr. Frodo. Pertinent as well that that scene takes place at the Green Dragon!

Most of this chapter, though, is given over to Gandalf’s eventual return to the Shire and his cluing in Frodo about what exactly that shiny golden bauble in his pocket is. And it’s a bit of a weird reading experience, given how heavily the movies are imprinted into my brain now–because every time I read a bit of dialogue that made it into the movie version of Fellowship, the character voices in kick in. But it’s not complete, because the movie script did trim things down considerably. So it’s like I’ve got the movie stopping and starting again in my brain as I read.

Moreover, bits of it keep skipping forward in the movie script. There are things here that actually crop up later in the movies, including the account of how Gollum got the Ring–which we don’t see in the movies until the flashback scene at the beginning of Return of the King. That’s one of the editing decisions on the movie I agree with, on the grounds that it does admittedly strike me as a little weird that Gandalf managed to wring the story out of Gollum in such detail. And it’s more effective to me to see it actually play out in action as opposed to hearing about it after the fact, as one character tells the story to another.

One other bit I recognized as occurring later in the movies is this exchange between Gandalf and Frodo:

“I wish it need not have happened in my time,” said Frodo.

“So do I,” said Gandalf, “and 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.”

Also this quote of Gandalf’s:

“Behind that there was something else at work, beyond any design of the Ring-maker. I can put it no plainer than by saying that Bilbo was meant to find the Ring, and not by its maker. In which case you also were meant to have it. And that may be an encouraging thought.”

And this exchange as well, re: why Bilbo didn’t kill Gollum:

“What a pity that Bilbo did not stab that vile creature, when he had a chance!”

“Pity? It was Pity that stayed his hand.”

Which just goes to tell me that when the scripts were written by the Lord of the Rings movie team, they recognized so much of the value of Tolkien’s actual dialogue and were prepared to use gems like these elsewhere even as they edited scenes. Editor Anna appreciates the craft of the decisions they had to make there!

When Frodo finally comes to his decision about heading out with the Ring, I must say that I also approve of how the movie tweaked that, too: having Frodo simply say “What must I do?” It focuses his resolve in a way that’s more appropriate to the tighter, more urgent portrayal of the situation in the movie.

And, of course, we have Sam revealing himself as he’s listening in from outside, and Gandalf drafting him for the quest. There’s more of an exchange here too than there is in the film, and a bit more emphasis on Sam wanting to go see elves.

All in all this whole chapter is an exercise in my having an increased appreciation for the editing decisions that went into writing the scripts for the movies–and how aspects of Tolkien’s writing that modern authors would not IMHO get away with got tightened up to better suit the tastes of a modern movie-viewing audience. Still great fun to go back and revisit Tolkien’s original version of these events, though. Particularly the revelation of the writing in the fire!

Next post: Frodo finally gets his hobbit butt in gear and sets out. There are Black Riders! And Elves!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Alan and Sean Ordinary Day)

It is a testament to the power of Peter Jackson’s movies that, when I dig into the very first chapter of The Fellowship of the Ring, I cannot help but imagine how it played out in the movie. The music kicks in in my head, and of course, there are the beautiful visuals involved with Gandalf’s fireworks. Although the movie didn’t lay everything out exactly as the book did–and, see my previous post for why I don’t consider that a problem–it’s still very close to it in spirit.

Because yeah. After the Prologue reminds us of what went down in The Hobbit, this chapter also blatantly ties into those events. The very title of the chapter is a callback. And the first few paragraphs tell us about the reputation Bilbo’s had in the Shire ever since his adventure. Right out of the gate, though, we get something that the movie had not really called out: i.e., that the grand party Bilbo’s throwing is in fact a celebration of his birthday and Frodo’s. Bilbo is turning 111, but Frodo is turning 33, the year a hobbit is considered to come of age.

(And that little tidbit, combined with how Frodo doesn’t actually set out on his adventure until he’s pushing fifty, has contributed to why I’ve never really fretted much about heading into my forties and closing in on fifty myself. By hobbit standards, I’m barely adult! Never mind elf standards!)

It’s kind of hysterical, too, that hobbits call the twenties tweens, since that term means something different to a modern eye: i.e., a pre-teen. But then, it’s kind of the same idea, since the hobbits are still giving the word the connotation of “this is somebody too young and irresponsible to be a grownup”.

It’s fun to see the Gaffer on camera, since we don’t get to see him in the movies, and the conversation he has with other hobbits is a nice way to cover the community gossip about the Bagginses, as well as a bit of Frodo’s backstory (the drowning of his parents) and the ill repute of the Sackville-Bagginses. And I do have to giggle at the miller’s assertion that, quote, “Bag End’s a queer place, and its folk are queerer,” unquote.

(Insert obligatory mental picture of a rainbow flag flying over Bilbo’s door here.)

Something else we don’t see in the movies: a note that the dwarves visit Bilbo. In fact, it’s called out in this chapter that dwarves are in fact on hand for the party, even though they do not actually appear in any of the action! And since I have just recently re-watched the tail end of The Battle of the Five Armies, including Bilbo’s sentimental farewell to the surviving dwarves, I cannot help but wonder which dwarves were the ones that visited him here.

I’m sure Bombur would have been VERY apparent indulging in the party supplies, and I like to think that Bofur would have leapt up to sing and play something for the party attendees. We know from the actual book version of The Hobbit, as well, that many of the dwarves did in fact play instruments. I’m a little sad that Tolkien didn’t think to at least include them more obviously in the merrymaking and music-making here!

Doublechecking the Third Age timeline, it’s at least certain that Balin would not have been among the visiting dwarves–he died in Moria before this party was held. Sniff. But I can totally imagine Balin sharing a companionable table with Bilbo. Is there fan art of that? There should be fan art of that.

I also like that among the party presents being handed out, there’s description of wonderful toys that came from the Lonely Mountain and from Dale, toys that are specifically of dwarf-make. Another reason I’m a little sad that the dwarves don’t actually get to participate more obviously in the action! And according to Bofur’s page on the LotR wiki, he was in fact a toymaker. One therefore presumes a lot of the toys being handed out were his work!

Tolkien’s description of the fireworks is magic all on its own, even if I do rather miss the mischief from movie!Pippin and movie!Merry, stealing fireworks to launch themselves.

It’s interesting to me that Bilbo’s speech is given in italics rather than in quoted dialogue lines. I didn’t remember this, and I’m wondering if it was because Tolkien intended to have the speech be more from the point of view of the party attendees in general, rather than Bilbo himself.

And in the middle of the speech, we get more references to shinies from Dale: the crackers that contain musical instruments, “small, but of perfect make and enchanting tones.” I must wonder how small! Pretty tiny, if they were in crackers meant to be pulled apart, and yet they couldn’t have been too tiny, if hobbit-sized hands were still able to get music out of them.

Gandalf is shown here to be in active collusion with Bilbo, another thing that wasn’t quite as apparent in the movie–since here, Gandalf throws in a bit of a magical “boom” to obscure Bilbo disappearing before their eyes. Which leads nicely into Bilbo’s conversation with Gandalf, which is of course one of my other favorite things about the very beginning of this story. “Two eyes, as often as I can spare them,” indeed. Yep, I won’t ever be able to read a word of Gandalf’s without hearing Sir Ian in my head, and this is entirely as it should be. <3

I do love Bilbo’s parting gifts for a lot of different hobbits, and the snarky subtext on the labels. Which I am totally reading in Martin Freeman’s voice, which is also entirely as it should be. And we see yet more of the Sackville-Bagginses, being generally odious, as well as a passle of other hobbits that need to be bodily thrown out of Bag-End after the party is over.

And, of course, we get Gandalf’s final word of warning to Frodo about the Ring–less urgent than it plays out in the film, but still, enough here to leave a frisson of worry. Something’s off about that ring, and Gandalf urges our little hero to keep it secret, and keep it safe.

Raise your hand if you’re now hearing the Ring theme playing in the back of your head.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (A Star Shines)

So I’ve started re-reading The Lord of the Rings. I’m not going to do a multi-lingual read of it, not quite yet–mostly because I’m still doing Harry Potter and I’m not going to do two multi-lingual rereads at once. But I think I will document thoughts as I have them. Mostly because I always did love the LoTR reread posts on Tor.com, and because as y’all know, I am a massive Tolkien geek. And my thoughts on Tolkien, they are plentiful!

And I’ve got quite a few thoughts right out of the gate, already. For purposes of this read, I’m using a single-volume ebook edition–basically, the ebook release of the single-volume print edition I have. Because that thing is a great big honking brick of a book, far too large for me to comfortably carry on my regular work commutes. It’s therefore much more amenable to me to do this read-through in electronic form.

Also notably, for anyone who might be considering grabbing digital versions of the trilogy: buying the single-volume ebook edition is significantly cheaper than buying the three individual ebooks. On Kobo’s site, that amounted to paying sixteen bucks for the single omnibus edition, vs. paying twelve each for Fellowship, Two Towers, and Return of the King. I normally don’t care for omnibus ebooks, and would in fact prefer to have the individual books as separate files. But in this case, the price difference was significant enough that it actually mattered.

And now, into the prologue itself. Right out of the gate, my first thought is: wow, modern authors would have this prologue totally shot down by their editors. I say this as an author who in fact had the original prologue for what later became Valor of the Healer shot down (and which interested parties can read here)–a prologue which in fact was a pretty decent amount of action, as opposed to what Tolkien gives us here. I.e., a ginormous infodump of the history of the hobbits, and a recap of how Bilbo got the Ring.

If you’re the sort of reader who expects instant action in the very first paragraph, you won’t like this prologue. But for me, as a lifelong Tolkien geek, it starts setting the stage by introducing us to the hobbits and stressing the importance of the Ring.

Modern writers would, I feel, be encouraged to work this data into the actual flow of the action, seamlessly. There’s a strong argument to be made for that, since certainly, modern tastes slant away from hitting your readers in the face with an infodump first thing. Which is in fact the important point here. There’s a difference between hitting your readers in the face with your infodump, and presenting it to them in such a way that it feels like a natural way to set the stage. For me, Tolkien pulls this off. It’d take a writer in solid command of his or her craft to do something similar in today’s publishing environment, and achieving that level of mastery is not easy. So I can’t exactly fault modern editors from encouraging their writers to not do this.

All that said, there’s such a wealth of detail here that as long as you know what to expect, it’s still delightful. I’d forgotten the description of the original three strains of Hobbits, and how they migrated into what eventually became the Shire. I’d also forgotten that they were in fact the inventors of smoking pipeweed, and that Merry’s on record as documenting a lot of that.

But what really just made me LOL as I re-read this prologue is this description of the discrepancy between the original release of The Hobbit, and later editions that Tolkien retconned to tie in better to The Lord of the Rings:

Now it is a curious fact that this is not the story as Bilbo first told it to his companions. […] This account Bilbo set down in his memoirs, and he seems never to have altered it himself, not even after the Council of Elrond. Evidently it still appeared in the original Red Book, as it did in several of the copies and abstracts. But many copies contain the true account (as an alternative), derived no doubt from notes by Frodo or Samwise, both of whom learned the truth, though they seem to have been unwilling to delete anything actually written by the old hobbit himself.

That, right there, is Tolkien himself handing Peter Jackson, on a silver platter, an in-universe excuse for why the Hobbit movies tell so much more than what the actual book does. Dara and I had decided ages ago that the book was very clearly Bilbo’s version of the story, and that the movies were aiming more for “what actually happened”. But I’d honestly forgotten that Tolkien himself laid this down in his own words.

It’s also highly interesting to me that this prologue calls out how Gandalf was having none of Bilbo’s bullshit in this regard:

Gandalf, however, disbelieved Bilbo’s first story, as soon as he heard it, and he continued to be very curious about the ring. Eventually he got the true tale out of Bilbo after much questioning, which for a while strained their friendship; but the wizard seemed to think the truth important.

Speaking as someone who has just re-watched the end of The Battle of the Five Armies, I think it’s very clear that we see Gandalf not buying Bilbo’s bullshit right there on camera.

If I were to change anything at all about this Prologue, it would be to move the final section, “Note on the Shire Records”, somewhere earlier. The final sentence of the “Of the Finding of the Ring” section is this: “At this point this History begins.”

Which would have been an awesome segue right into Chapter 1. And I think I’ll let that be the segue to my next post!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Good Book)
The Children of Hurin

The Children of Hurin

Picked up from Kobo recently:

  • Please Do Not Taunt the Octopus, by Mira Grant. Because, well, duh, Mira Grant. This is the latest novella in the Newsflesh universe, and as I have in fact already plowed through it, I can attest that it was delightful. It clues us in on the fate of two particular notable characters following the conclusion of the main trilogy, and it does not disappoint. And there is in fact an octopus.
  • The Lord of the Rings, The Children of Húrin, Unfinished Tales of Númenor and Middle-Earth, and The Silmarillion, all of course by J.R.R. Tolkien. Picking all these up in ebook form on the general grounds that I’ve just finally finished re-watching The Hobbit: The Battle of the Five Armies, and it’s kindled in me a MIGHTY NEED to re-read LoTR. And since my print copy of the trilogy is a single-volume huge honking brick of a book, it’s a bit much to carry to work and back with me. So onto the ereaders it goes! And while I’m at it, I snarfed up the others since UNDER NO CIRCUMSTANCES am I taking my beautiful hardback of Children of Hurin out of the house, and my paperback of The Silmarillion is pretty ragged! And I need to re-read Unfinished Tales, too!

This puts me at 45 for the year.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Good Book)
I keep getting errors from Dreamwidth's Varnish server when I try to crosspost over from Wordpress on angelahighland.com. This is vexing! It only just started happening this weekend, and I don't know yet what's causing it.

Till Dreamwidth fixes it, here, have direct links to the last two, long-overdue posts of the Trilingual Hobbit Reread, which is now officially DONE!

Chapter 18

Chapter 19

And as I said at the end of the Chapter 19 post, this has been great fun. And I WILL be doing another Trilingual Reread, though I think I'll be changing the format a bit so that the posts don't have to be quite so long and involved.

What will I be reading?

Harry Potter. Stand by, y'all, this is going to be fun. :D
annathepiper: (Castle and Beckett and Book)

Grabbed in print from Third Place Books:

  • Maplecroft, by Cherie Priest. Which I already have in ebook form, but she’s one of my Must Also Have in Print authors. And because this book in particular is Lizzie friggin’ Borden and it is AWESOME.
  • The Winter Long, by Seanan McGuire. Because I swear to gods I need to get caught up on the Toby Dayes. And I suspect Seanan’s going to be joining the “buy in both formats” queue because seriously, y’all, I DO read faster digitally these days. And OH DARN I’ll just have to give Seanan more money!
J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend

J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend

Grabbed electronically from B&N:

  • J.R.R. Tolkien: The Making of a Legend, by Colin Duriez. Grabbed this because my sister alerted me that the ebook was on sale for 99 cents–and of course, because Tolkien. I haven’t read a proper biography of him, and this one appears to be well reviewed. So I’ll look forward to giving it a go.

Last but not least:

  • C’est what? 75 mini lessons in conversational Québécois French, by Felix Polesello. This is a lesson book by the writer of the excellent OffQc blog I’ve been following, which features real-world usage of Quebecois French. Pretty much what it says on the tin and I’m looking forward to working my way through this to help improve my French!

This makes six books for the year so far.

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (A Star Shines)

Dara and I went out last night with friends for her first viewing of Five Armies and my second one. My overall reaction to the movie remains pretty close to my initial one, i.e., I’m clocking it in at a B-.

I’m overall still pretty happy with the movies we got; as I said in my initial post, I’d rather spend time talking about what I love about these movies rather than lambasting Mr. Jackson for the movies he didn’t make. And with that in mind, I wanted to address a couple of things from Dara’s reactions that actually make me feel better about certain things I talked about in the first post.

Everyone to the gate for SPOILERS!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Alan and Sean Ordinary Day)

I have seen Five Armies! All hail Paul who got invited to a private early showing courtesy of his brand new workplace, and since he was able to bring a guest, I came with him. So we just got home from seeing the movie!

First, the spoiler-free picoreview: if you didn’t like Unexpected Journey or Desolation of Smaug, you probably won’t like Five Armies either. But I for one enjoyed myself immensely, and as I told folks at work today, I was already a hundred percent on board with Jackson’s story. This movie didn’t do anything to shake me off of that.

Parts of the movie played kind of weirdly shakily to me. Parts were played out in ways I was not expecting at all. One side character was entirely unnecessary. But Mr. Freeman and Mr. Armitage were every bit as spectacular as expected, and all the parts that I expected to make me go *WAUGH* did in fact do so. My only regret is that we had to leave the theater before I could give a full proper listen to Mr. Boyd’s song over the closing credits. I will be making a point of listening to that properly on my second viewing.

Full commentary, with spoilers, is behind the fold (or over on angelahighland.com, if you’re seeing this on LJ or Dreamwidth). If you’re reading this on LJ or Dreamwidth, come on over to angelahighland.com’s master post to comment. Ditto if you clicked in from Facebook or Twitter or G+ or Tumblr–I ask that you leave spoiler commentary on this post in order to keep it away from folks who haven’t seen the movie yet.

(And one other thing: with all due respect, please don’t rant at me about how much you’re hating Jackson’s movies on my post. I don’t need to hear you ranting about how it should have been just one movie or two. I PARTICULARLY don’t need to hear it if you hate Tauriel and everything her character stands for.

Believe me, The Hobbit is a critical, formative part of my childhood, too. And I get the feeling of betrayal if a screen adaptation of a movie actively breaks part of your childhood for you. But I don’t subscribe to that myself. My childhood is not broken because Jackson’s movies don’t line up with the story in my head when I read the book. Because look, people, we still have the book. Tolkien’s immortal words are not damaged or erased from history because Jackson chose to implement a different version of the story. The original still exists and we can read it as often as we like.

I’m not saying these movies are perfect, and I certainly don’t think they quite measure up to The Lord of the Rings movies. But I do actively enjoy them. Ranting at me about how much you hate them will only make us both sad. For all the flaws I find in this trilogy, I do still actively love it, and I much prefer to celebrate what I love about the movies we got rather than wasting my time ranting about the movies we didn’t get. I will acknowledge their flaws, yes, but I will also take great pleasure in the things I love about them.

If the second movie actively pissed you off, just save yourself time and trouble and don’t go see the third one. Nobody needs to hit themselves over the head with a hammer like that. Hitting yourself over the head with a hammer hurts. So don’t do that, okay? Okay.)

And now at last: to the gates! For SPOILERS!

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Alan YES!)

I have finally acquired a copy of the Extended Edition of The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug, and am delighted to report that as with the EE for An Unexpected Journey, I very much enjoyed the EE cut of movie #2! Which is not terribly surprising, given that I very much loved the theatrical cut. (And as a general reminder, I am indeed on Team Tauriel.)

Details behind the fold! Send the burglar in for spoilers! (And for reference, TheOneRing.net has an excellent breakdown of the specific new footage, right over here.)

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Good Book)

It has taken me ages to get through my edits for Victory of the Hawk, you guys. But now that the end is in sight, I’ve had some cycles free up finally. Which means I can get back to the last few bits of my Trilingual Hobbit Reread!

And Chapter 17 of The Hobbit, “The Clouds Burst”, is pretty much where the Battle of Five Armies gets down to Serious Business. Which is a good place to be, given the movie that’s about to come out next month, yes?

Read the rest of this entry »

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

annathepiper: (Hero)

I got tagged on a 15 Film Challenge meme on Facebook, and since I don’t tag people on memes as a general rule, and since I have Opinions on this in general, I thought I’d make this a blog post. A few blog posts, in fact, since like I said, OPINIONS.

So here you go, my 15 all-time favorite films, Part 1! Here are the first three!

Best. Movie. EVER.

Best. Movie. EVER.

1) Raiders of the Lost Ark

(Because in my house, it’s Raiders of the Lost Ark, dammit, not Indiana Jones and the Raiders of the Lost Ark. I don’t care what it says on the Blu-rays. Which I do own. Because yes, I have this movie in multiple formats. Laserdisc AND DVD AND Blu-ray. DON’T JUDGE!)

This should surprise exactly NONE of you, particularly those of you who spent any length of time roleplaying with me on any MUSHes, and were accordingly familiar with my longstanding fangirling of Harrison Ford. This was the movie that did it, with a strong helping hand from The Empire Strikes Back.

I love every frame of this movie, and every single character interaction. Especially the characters, and especially Marion. Marion was the template for how I played Shenner on Star Wars MUSH. It doesn’t suck either that this was Harrison Ford at the absolute apex of his swoonability. There were reasons I spent a long span of time on roleplaying MUSHes swooning hardcore over characters who were based on Ford, and the first and foremost of these reasons was Indiana Jones.

Musically, this movie also has a strong and special place in my heart. John Williams did a splendid job on the soundtrack for this one, and every time I listen to it, I can’t help smiling. Especially because I have fond memories of playing the Raiders March in middle school band, because there’s a particular sweet, prolonged note on the violins in the final track that is the very first time I remember swooning to the sound of violins, and because I happily match up every note of the soundtrack to the corresponding action in the movie.

2) The Lord of the Rings trilogy

This would be #1 on my list if Raiders of the Lost Ark didn’t exist, and it’s a HARD call to make, I assure you! But if you’ve followed my blog or its mirrors for more than five minutes, you know what a big raving Tolkien geek I am. I have to take the whole trilogy together, too, because it is after all one great big story.

Suffice to say, I’m entirely on board with Jackson’s realization of Middle-Earth. I could devote entire weeks of posts to all the various reasons I love these films so much, but I’ve already recently posted about all the bits in them that make me sob. That I regularly re-watch them AND keep crying over them is all by itself a huge indicator of how much these movies have meant to me every since they came out.

And as with Raiders, the music is critical here as well. Howard Shore did masterful work on this soundtrack and I would give much to be in an orchestra that performs works from it, just once.

3) Master and Commander: The Far Side of the World

O My Captain

O My Captain

Russell Crowe has been the only actor to date to ever surpass Mr. Ford for my fangirling affections, and while I’ve loved a great many films Crowe’s been in, Master and Commander is my hands-down, uncontested favorite. It beats out Gladiator, even though Gladiator was the first Crowe film I ever saw in a theater and what made me a Crowe fangirl to begin with, because I do rewatch this one semi-regularly.

Jack and Stephen are wonderful. The story is wonderful. And yet again, the music is critical. I always adored that Crowe made a point of learning how to make coherent noises on a violin to lend his portrayal of Jack additional weight, and I love the bits where he and Paul Bettany play their instruments. Mutual love of music is what made these characters become friends, and Crowe and Bettany do a splendid job of communicating their love of music throughout this movie.

The soundtrack’s a joy to listen to, too.

You may be seeing a common thread here to my top favorite films, and if you’re saying “music”, you would be correct. Just about all of my top favorites are important to me because of musical strength. But I’m also putting in a thought to how often I rewatch them, and whether they involve top favorite actors, and whether I’ve done any fan activity based on them (e.g., MUSHing).

Next post on this to come as I think about the next ones on the list! Expect more Harrison Ford, more Russell Crowe, Elvis, MST3K, and Superman!

Mirrored from angelahighland.com.

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