review – the lord of the rings: the musical (repost)

I’ve been listening to this music again and it reminded me of how great – and underrated! – this musical is. The new tour will be huge, guys. Trust me. 🙂 (I haven’t had too much time to write posts lately, so this is a repost. Never fear, I’ve got posts in my head, so they’re coming.)

lotr

“There’s a road calling you to stray.” – ‘The Road Goes On,’ The Lord of the Rings: The Musical

When I tell my friends that there’s a LotR musical, nine times out of ten, they say, “Wait, WHAT?! How can you even have a LotR musical?! It’s impossible!”

Actually, no, it’s quite possible. It’s been done. And it’s amazing.

(Note: I’ve only listened to the soundtrack, which is the foundation of this review.)

The Story

Act I

news-graphics-2007-_638437aThe half-Elven maiden Arwen sings the prologue, urging those to whom she sings to trust their instincts (“Prologue” (‘Lasto i lamath’)). In the region of Middle-earth known as the Shire, Bilbo Baggins, an eccentric and wealthy Hobbit, celebrates his one hundred eleventh birthday by vanishing from his birthday party, leaving his greatest treasure, a mysterious magic Ring, to his young relative Frodo Baggins (“Springle Ring”) . The Ring is greatly desired by the Dark Lord Sauron, who could use it to conquer the world, and must be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom in Sauron’s country of Mordor. Frodo and his friends Samwise Gamgee, Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took set out along the road that leads out of the Shire (“The Road Goes On”). Meanwhile, the corrupt wizard Saruman also desires the Ring (“Saruman”).
At the Inn of the Prancing Pony in the village of Bree, Frodo and his friends sing and dance for their fellow guests (“The Cat and the Moon”). With the assistance of the Ranger Strider, the four Hobbits escape pursuit by the Black Riders, servants of Sauron, and safely reach the Ford of Bruinen (“Flight to the Ford”). Awaiting them at the Elven settlement of Rivendell is Arwen, the beloved of Strider, whose true name is Aragorn, heir to the kingship of the Lands of Men (“The Song of Hope”). Arwen’s father, Lord Elrond, calls a Council of Elves, Men and Dwarves at which it is decided that Frodo will carry the Ring to Mordor. The Fellowship of the Ring sets out from Rivendell: Frodo and his three fellow Hobbits, Aragorn, the human warrior Boromir, the Elf Legolas, the Dwarf Gimli, and the great wizard Gandalf the Grey. Arwen and the people of Rivendell invoke the holy power of the star Eärendil to protect and guide the Fellowship on its journey (“Star of Eärendil”). In the ancient, ruined Dwarf-mines of Moria, Gandalf confronts a Balrog, a monstrous creature of evil, and falls into the darkness.

Act II

inside-lord-of-rings_t614The Fellowship takes refuge in Lothlórien, the mystical realm of Galadriel, an Elven lady of great power and wisdom (“The Golden Wood”, “Lothlórien”). As their journey south continues, Boromir attempts to take the Ring from Frodo; Frodo and Sam flee from the rest of the Fellowship, and Boromir falls in battle. Gandalf returns in time to intervene at the Siege of the City of Kings, where the Lands of Men are under attack by the forces of Saruman and the Orcs of Mordor (“The Siege of the City of Kings”). Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam are joined on their journey by Gollum, a twisted creature who long possessed the Ring and desires to have it for his own again. As they approach Mordor, Frodo and Sam sing to each other about the power of stories (“Now and for Always”). Gollum is moved by their song, but the evil side of his personality asserts itself and he plans to betray the Hobbits (“Gollum/Sméagol”).

Act III

elvesIf Aragorn can defeat the forces of evil and reclaim the kingship of Men, he will receive Arwen’s hand in marriage (“The Song of Hope” (Duet)). Galadriel casts spells to protect the forces of good in the final battle (“Wonder”, “The Final Battle”). Frodo, Sam and Gollum reach Mount Doom, where the Ring is destroyed when Gollum takes it from Frodo and falls into the fire with it. Aragorn becomes King and marries Arwen (“City of Kings”), but Frodo, wearied by his quest, and the great Elves must leave Middle-earth forever and sail to the lands of the West (“Epilogue (Farewells)”). Bidding farewell to their friend, Sam, Merry and Pippin resume their lives in the Shire (“Finale”).  (from Wikipedia)

503817976_1904edc655As you can see, LotRM follows the book and, in some cases, is more true to it than the movie trilogy. In some ways, however, it’s a little different. For instance, there is no Eowyn character (or Faramir – and all the Faramir Fans say, “Nooooooo!”), and the roles of Theoden and Denathor have been combined. (I know, right?) However, other than that, the story is the same. It’s really amazing how they pulled it off on stage, in front of a live audience, for 492 performances.

Unfortunately, the musical tanked due to money and budgeting issues and a few minor accidents on set. As one reviewer put it, “Stripping away the beautiful sets, lavish staging, seventeen lifts and three revolves, LotRM was at its base level a confused, plodding, dull selection of scenes from the books – with the occasional moment of brilliance, just as a reminder of how good the show could have been. The challenge of adapting all three books (over nine hours worth of film) into one three hour long stage show (incorporating songs and circus style staging) was simply too great – and the result was plain for all to see.” It was a huge job to undertake, and I think everyone involved should be commended for their efforts.

The Music

I discovered LotRM in early 2008, bought the soundtrack soon afterward, and have been hooked on it ever since. The tunes get stuck in my head – which is delightful – and I’ve been trying to master the many fiddle solos in ‘The Cat and the Moon’ ever since. My sister and I bought several highlights from the album, which I will review below. If you only have a short amount of time to “try out” this musical, I’d recommend these songs.

‘The Road Goes On’ is one of the first songs in the musical. It starts out with Frodo and Sam, then Merry and Pippin join in, then the Elves and Rangers join in, and it just gets bigger and bigger.

‘The Cat and the Moon’ is the song that Frodo and the other hobbits sing at The Prancing Pony, and it’s one of the most toe-tapping songs I’ve ever heard. My siblings and I have done many a jig to this song, and my brother and I have even played it and danced around a fire once. It’s that kind of song.

‘Lothlorien’ is another favorite. Legolas starts it, then he is joined by the other elves. Galadriel (wonderfully played by Laura Michelle Kelly, of Mary Poppins: The Musical fame) comes in for a solo in the beginning of the second verse. (The first day I was able to hit all of her high notes, I nearly jumped for joy!)

‘Now and For Always’ is arguably my favorite song in the entire soundtrack. It depicts the friendship between Frodo and Sam to perfection.

‘Star of Earendil’ is one of my new favorites. It wasn’t among the “highlights” that my sister and I bought, but it definitely should have been. It’s Arwen’s solo and quite beautiful.

‘Wonder’ is the last of my favorites. It’s one of Galadriel’s solos and such a pretty song. (It’s one of my go-to songs when I feel like I need to sing something big and powerful.) ‘Shine forever, beacon of light! Blaze in the air, vanquishing night!’

In Conclusion

LordOfTheRingsMusi_1774259cAlthough the musical didn’t do very well, I commend everyone’s efforts. Ever since I first heard about the musical, I’ve wanted to see it. When it officially closed in 2008, I was heartbroken. However, now that it’s being revived for a world tour, I’m looking forward to seeing it! (WOOT!!)

This musical is highly, highly recommended and I think every true Tolkiendil should see it – or, at the very least, listen to the music.

It’s Over Now, the Music of the Night!

“A Short-Cut To Mushrooms” is nearly over. *sniffle*  We’ve had such a great time planning this and making our plans a reality, and we hope that you’ve enjoyed it as much as we have.  It’s been a marvelous experience for both of us (although we do have a list as long as the road to Mordor of things to do “after NaNo, after the blog party” :P).

But wait!  It’s not quiiiiiite over yet.  It’s now time to unveil the “special surprise” we’ve been telling you about!  You see, we discovered that we have the same music book: a book of violin pieces from the LotR movies, with piano accompaniments (we both play violin, and Eowyn plays piano as well).  So we got this crazy idea of putting one of the pieces together, and, somehow, we managed to work it out.  Eowyn recorded the piano and sent it to Jane, who recorded the violin and sent it back.  Then Eowyn made a video to match it.

So without further ado, may we present “In Dreams” by Miss Jane Bennet and Eowyn!

(At the time of the writing of this post, Eowyn is sick and can’t figure out how to post the video.  So you’ll just have to run on over to Miss Jane’s blog and see it there!  Terribly sorry.)

And now, we really are saying good-bye, so we’ll close this with one of the most gorgeous quotes in the entire trilogy.

“And the ship went out into the High Sea and passed into the West, until at last on a night of rain Frodo smelled a sweet fragrance on the air
and heard the sound of singing that came over the water. And then it seemed to him that as in his dream in the house of Bombadil, the grey rain-curtain turned all to silver glass and was rolled back, and he beheld white shores and beyond them a far green country under a swift sunrise.”

― J.R.R. Tolkien,  The Return of the King

Personal message from Eowyn to Jane:

Thank you, dearest Jane, for giving me the opportunity to do this – especially the fact that I’ve been able to do this with YOU!  I have had SUCH a blast – as you probably know from all the emails that have passed between us!  I especially can’t believe we did ^THAT^.  Gracious SAKES, it’s been a whirlwind of fun!  We definitely need to do something huge like this in the future – oh, wait.  WE ARE.  😀   Can’t wait to continue our friendship, knowing that, together, we’ve done something as crazy and fun as this.  I also can’t wait to see what God has for your future with your writing, violin-playing, and everything else you’ve got going on!

Congratulations on your new status as Supergirl, Gollum.  You absolutely and most positively deserve it!!!  The video below is for you, girl.

CARRYING THE BANNER!!!

-Eowyn-

At Long Last

Well. Today is the 13th of December, the day which LotR fans, Hobbit geeks, Tolkiendils, and fantasy lovers have been waiting for since…since birth. (Sorry! ;))
Actually, since December 14th, 2012, when The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey came out.  Yes, today is the day on which The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug is coming out, and we are both tremendously excited. As in, TREMENDOUSLY EXCITED!!!
This is what we’re doing right now.  For a different reason, of course. 😉
 
Neither of us are getting to see it right away (Eowyn has to wait until later today, and Miss Jane has to wait a WEEK ;P), but we’re still celebrating today because that’s when it’s coming out and available to watch. We’ll both be keeping out an eager eye for reviews. We’re enthusiastic about Benedict Cumberbatch as Smaug in particular, and about seeing (hearing?) him and Martin Freeman interact, because
we’ve been watching some of
Sherlock recently. And if he demands silence in any way, shape or form, we’re going to be thrilled to tears.  Martin Freeman we KNOW will be good, so we certainly don’t need to worry about him, but we’re super excited (we need a thesaurus ;)) about him as well.
Eowyn loved and was enraptured by the first Hobbit movie; Miss Jane took some persuading, seeing as she wasn’t too interested in LotR (Note from Jane: Don’t kill me!  Please! ;P) when Journey came out. But now, we’re both practically hyperventilating over the awesomeness of it all; this has fulfilled 364 days of waiting, and we’re hoping that it will live up to our expectations (it WILL. It’s just not possible for this movie to not be good.), and we’re already looking forward to the third movie next year… So happy Hobbit-release day!! 🙂
Who’s going to see the premier? What are your thoughts on it?

Giveaway Results

We had seven entries in the giveaway this week, and we have results and a winner! The scores are as follows:

Serena: 17

Carissa Horton: 22

AnElvenPrincess: 22

Kiri Liz: 23

Bea: 16

Arwen: 15

Frankie: 16

And our winner is Kiri Liz! Congratulations, Kiri! Email us at miss.anne.elliot [at] gmail [dot] com within the next week to receive your prize!

Thank you to everyone who participated!

Musical Review – The Lord of the Rings: The Musical

lotr“There’s a road calling you to stray.” – ‘The Road Goes On,’ The Lord of the Rings: The Musical

When I tell my friends that there’s a LotR musical, nine times out of ten, they say, “Wait, WHAT?! How can you even have a LotR musical?! It’s impossible!”

Actually, no, it’s quite possible. It’s been done. And it’s amazing.

(Note: I’ve only listened to the soundtrack, which is the foundation of this review.)

The Story

Act I

news-graphics-2007-_638437aThe half-Elven maiden Arwen sings the prologue, urging those to whom she sings to trust their instincts (“Prologue” (‘Lasto i lamath’)). In the region of Middle-earth known as the Shire, Bilbo Baggins, an eccentric and wealthy Hobbit, celebrates his one hundred eleventh birthday by vanishing from his birthday party, leaving his greatest treasure, a mysterious magic Ring, to his young relative Frodo Baggins (“Springle Ring”) . The Ring is greatly desired by the Dark Lord Sauron, who could use it to conquer the world, and must be destroyed in the fires of Mount Doom in Sauron’s country of Mordor. Frodo and his friends Samwise Gamgee, Merry Brandybuck and Pippin Took set out along the road that leads out of the Shire (“The Road Goes On”). Meanwhile, the corrupt wizard Saruman also desires the Ring (“Saruman”).
At the Inn of the Prancing Pony in the village of Bree, Frodo and his friends sing and dance for their fellow guests (“The Cat and the Moon”). With the assistance of the Ranger Strider, the four Hobbits escape pursuit by the Black Riders, servants of Sauron, and safely reach the Ford of Bruinen (“Flight to the Ford”). Awaiting them at the Elven settlement of Rivendell is Arwen, the beloved of Strider, whose true name is Aragorn, heir to the kingship of the Lands of Men (“The Song of Hope”). Arwen’s father, Lord Elrond, calls a Council of Elves, Men and Dwarves at which it is decided that Frodo will carry the Ring to Mordor. The Fellowship of the Ring sets out from Rivendell: Frodo and his three fellow Hobbits, Aragorn, the human warrior Boromir, the Elf Legolas, the Dwarf Gimli, and the great wizard Gandalf the Grey. Arwen and the people of Rivendell invoke the holy power of the star Eärendil to protect and guide the Fellowship on its journey (“Star of Eärendil”). In the ancient, ruined Dwarf-mines of Moria, Gandalf confronts a Balrog, a monstrous creature of evil, and falls into the darkness.

Act II

inside-lord-of-rings_t614The Fellowship takes refuge in Lothlórien, the mystical realm of Galadriel, an Elven lady of great power and wisdom (“The Golden Wood”, “Lothlórien”). As their journey south continues, Boromir attempts to take the Ring from Frodo; Frodo and Sam flee from the rest of the Fellowship, and Boromir falls in battle. Gandalf returns in time to intervene at the Siege of the City of Kings, where the Lands of Men are under attack by the forces of Saruman and the Orcs of Mordor (“The Siege of the City of Kings”). Meanwhile, Frodo and Sam are joined on their journey by Gollum, a twisted creature who long possessed the Ring and desires to have it for his own again. As they approach Mordor, Frodo and Sam sing to each other about the power of stories (“Now and for Always”). Gollum is moved by their song, but the evil side of his personality asserts itself and he plans to betray the Hobbits (“Gollum/Sméagol”).

Act III

elvesIf Aragorn can defeat the forces of evil and reclaim the kingship of Men, he will receive Arwen’s hand in marriage (“The Song of Hope” (Duet)). Galadriel casts spells to protect the forces of good in the final battle (“Wonder”, “The Final Battle”). Frodo, Sam and Gollum reach Mount Doom, where the Ring is destroyed when Gollum takes it from Frodo and falls into the fire with it. Aragorn becomes King and marries Arwen (“City of Kings”), but Frodo, wearied by his quest, and the great Elves must leave Middle-earth forever and sail to the lands of the West (“Epilogue (Farewells)”). Bidding farewell to their friend, Sam, Merry and Pippin resume their lives in the Shire (“Finale”).  (from Wikipedia)

503817976_1904edc655As you can see, LotRM follows the book and, in some cases, is more true to it than the movie trilogy. In some ways, however, it’s a little different. For instance, there is no Eowyn character (or Faramir – and all the Faramir Fans say, “Nooooooo!”), and the roles of Theoden and Denathor have been combined. (I know, right?) However, other than that, the story is the same. It’s really amazing how they pulled it off on stage, in front of a live audience, for 492 performances.

Unfortunately, the musical tanked due to money and budgeting issues and a few minor accidents on set. As one reviewer put it, “Stripping away the beautiful sets, lavish staging, seventeen lifts and three revolves, LotRM was at its base level a confused, plodding, dull selection of scenes from the books – with the occasional moment of brilliance, just as a reminder of how good the show could have been. The challenge of adapting all three books (over nine hours worth of film) into one three hour long stage show (incorporating songs and circus style staging) was simply too great – and the result was plain for all to see.” It was a huge job to undertake, and I think everyone involved should be commended for their efforts.

The Music

I discovered LotRM in early 2008, bought the soundtrack soon afterward, and have been hooked on it ever since. The tunes get stuck in my head – which is delightful – and I’ve been trying to master the many fiddle solos in ‘The Cat and the Moon’ ever since. My sister and I bought several highlights from the album, which I will review below. If you only have a short amount of time to “try out” this musical, I’d recommend these songs.

‘The Road Goes On’ is one of the first songs in the musical. It starts out with Frodo and Sam, then Merry and Pippin join in, then the Elves and Rangers join in, and it just gets bigger and bigger.

‘The Cat and the Moon’ is the song that Frodo and the other hobbits sing at The Prancing Pony, and it’s one of the most toe-tapping songs I’ve ever heard. My siblings and I have done many a jig to this song, and my brother and I have even played it and danced around a fire once. It’s that kind of song.

‘Lothlorien’ is another favorite. Legolas starts it, then he is joined by the other elves. Galadriel (wonderfully played by Laura Michelle Kelly, of Mary Poppins: The Musical fame) comes in for a solo in the beginning of the second verse. (The first day I was able to hit all of her high notes, I nearly jumped for joy!)

‘Now and For Always’ is arguably my favorite song in the entire soundtrack. It depicts the friendship between Frodo and Sam to perfection.

‘Star of Earendil’ is one of my new favorites. It wasn’t among the “highlights” that my sister and I bought, but it definitely should have been. It’s Arwen’s solo and quite beautiful.

‘Wonder’ is the last of my favorites. It’s one of Galadriel’s solos and such a pretty song. (It’s one of my go-to songs when I feel like I need to sing something big and powerful.) ‘Shine forever, beacon of light! Blaze in the air, vanquishing night!’

In Conclusion

LordOfTheRingsMusi_1774259cAlthough the musical didn’t do very well, I commend everyone’s efforts. Ever since I first heard about the musical, I’ve wanted to see it. When it officially closed in 2008, I was heartbroken. However, now that it’s being revived for a world tour, I’m looking forward to seeing it! (WOOT!!)

This musical is highly, highly recommended and I think every true Tolkiendil should see it – or, at the very least, listen to the music.

Isildur’s Heir, Strider, Elessar, the Dúnedan…

Who is Aragorn?  Aragorn is a slightly awesome (well, okay, completely awesome) character.  He also goes by the name of Strider and happens to be the true king of all Middle-Earth. 

This by itself is pretty exciting and if that was all there was to Aragorn, I would probably still like him.  But there’s so much more to his character.

For one thing, he’s wise and powerful.  He has an amazing elfin sword, he knows the Elven tongue and he has a very large amount of knowledge at his command.  Plus, he knows the ways of battle and he’s a good strategist. 

For another, he has a sense of humor.  Who can deny that with this quote?
Gimli: It’s true you don’t see many dwarf women. And in fact, they are so alike in voice and appearance, that they are often mistaken for dwarf men.
Aragorn: [whispering] It’s the beards.

The Two Towers (2002)

I knowww…Aragorn can smile?! ;P

One of the most admirable aspects of his character, in my opinion
anyway, is the way he treats Eowyn.  He’s not oblivious to her
love (like Marius), nor does he prattle on about his love in her
presence (again, like Marius).  Instead, he delicately lets her
know that his heart is engaged elsewhere.  Also, he feels for
her, as he says himself:

Few other griefs amid the ill chances of this world have
more bitterness and shame for a man’s heart than to behold the love
of a lady so fair and brave that cannot be returned.”

Aragorn, The Return of the King

But he’s not completely far away from all things material- he loves Arwen with all his heart.  He tries to urge her not to give up her immortality for him, but when she does it anyway, I know
that he’ll do his best to protect and provide for her as long as they both live.

He’s extremely brave, even in the face of death or disgrace. When his little armies are faced by the huge forces of Sauron, he goes forward anyway, after doing his best to make sure the women and children of Gondor are protected. He’s willing to sacrifice anything for the safety and peace of Middle-Earth.

However, he’s not exactly perfect either. He makes mistakes and can be reckless and foolhardy.  He doesn’t always make the best choices and he’s slow to trust. He can be proud and disdainful of help.

My friends. You bow to no one.”

-The Return of the King (2003)

Aragorn can also be humble, and he always respects true worth. For example, when he is crowned King of Middle-Earth, he could have easily forgotten the Fellowship of the Ring. Instead, he honors and praises them, and he actually kneels down before Frodo and Sam because of what they’ve done.

If by my life or death I can protect you, I will. ”

J.R.R. Tolkien, The
Fellowship of the Ring

He’s loyal; he’d give up his life for any member of the fellowship. He’d prevent evil from befalling anyone in Middle-Earth if he could, which brings me to another aspect of his character: he’s self-sacrificing. He would– and does– try to protect any random stranger he happened to meet if they were in danger (assuming, of course, that they aren’t a minion of Sauron), and he’d be prepared to lay down his life for them. Although he’s reserved, he can also be warm and friendly, and easily wins people’s hearts (including mine, obviously).
 

Aragorn is one of my favorite characters in LotR. He’s a very worthy king and man, with a good heart and a keen mind. He always tries to protect the people he loves and destroy evil. He’s tactful and chivalrous as well as merciful.

And that’s Aragorn.

 

The Quirky Friendship of Merry and Pippin

Merry and Pippin have one of my favorite friendships ever. They’re an amazing team and provide a lot of humor and good plain hobbit-sense. How? Well, I’m going to do as Eowyn did in her earlier post and take a look at them both individually and together.
Merry is cool-headed, experienced, rather wise, and not afraid to speak his mind if it needs to be said. He can be somewhat cold and cautious on occasion, but more often than not he turns out to be right.
He’s loyal, brave, responsible, and has a lot of character and willpower, as well as being very sensible. (His real name also happens to be Meriadoc, which I find rather fun.)
Pippin is pretty much the opposite of Merry. He’s naïve (well, not always), somewhat reckless, gives into temptation easily, and tries to stay on everyone’s good side. However, he definitely isn’t all bad, or even part bad! He’s smart, quick-thinking, humorous, and always optimistic. For example, his “group” is facing the entire army of Sauron, and this is what he says: “We’ve got the White Wizard – that’s got to count for something!”
And of course, he’s right- he’s never unreasonably cheerful, and he can recognize the gravity of a situation most of the time.
Now, how do they do both together? Extremely well, providing a mixture of comic relief and impressive bravery. They’re very different; Merry plans ahead and Pippin takes things as they come, Merry doesn’t like to take chances but Pippin doesn’t think about odds, &c.&c. But this difference makes them a very good team. Merry keeps Pippin from rash schemes and scolds him when he does something that could endanger them (like the Palantir incident), and Pippin lightens up Merry and gets them out of several tricky situations.
They also care about each other deeply, like brothers. When Merry is badly injured while helping Eowyn fight the Witch King, Pippin finds him on the battlefield and, deeply concerned, immediately takes him to the Houses of Healing with no thought for his own danger.
However, it isn’t all great acts of heroism and moral lessons. They can be hilarious too- their way of pointing out the obvious, easy solution to a problem and their different views on the same subject always makes me laugh, as well as their ability to sit down and joke (and smoke a pipe) in the midst of danger and distress.
One of the things that illustrates their friendship extremely well in in The Return of the King. Merry has sworn himself to the King of Rohan (Theoden), and Pippin has promised loyalty to the Steward of Gondor (Denethor). The two leaders are somewhat on opposite sides, but Merry and Pippin, while still remaining loyal to their respective masters, remain friends. They tease each other about protecting their lords from the other hobbit, but inside, they know that they’ll always be friends, no matter what happens.
Which leads to an interesting question (and off on a tangent…sorry!): if Merry and Pippin were in opposing armies, what would they do? Would they avoid fighting each other and just attack the rest of the army? Would they quit? Would they do something amazingly heroic and manage to stop the whole war (my personal opinion, hehe…)? I’m not really sure what they’d do, exactly, but I do know that they would never battle each other like that, because relationships matter a lot to them.
So that’s why I like and admire Merry and Pippin and their friendship. They’re willing to make huge sacrifices for each other and the other people they care about. They are a wonderful team, restraining and yet encouraging each other, but they’re also brave and valiant when by themselves. I find this especially admirable, that although they want to get back to their hobbit-holes and tobacco, they’re both willing to go through hardships and suffering for the cause of a friend.

The Magic of Middle Earth

Hey, everyone! This is Kiri Liz, Christian and homeschooled bloggeress at Lianne Taimenlore, consumer of gingerbread, avid reader of Dickens, and an ultimate fan of all things Tolkien! When Eowyn asked me to guest post about magic in Lord of the Rings for this party, my immediate response was “YES!!” And that was followed immediately by, “Great bow of the Galadhrim, I don’t know enough about the magic to guest post!” But I promise I’ll do my best.

First off, I realize that many people stay away from Lord of the Rings because of the fact that there is magic within the stories, and I respect that. I don’t want to contradict your beliefs, opinions, or convictions. I am only writing down what I have researched and what God has led me to believe. These are my honest opinions, and why I can truly enjoy reading and watching LOTR.

When looking at magic, one of the first things you need to consider is the source of the magic. Where does it come from? You never exactly find that out in LOTR, I’m sorry to say, but there’s much to be found on that topic in another of Tolkien’s books, The Silmarillion. If you haven’t already read that, I highly recommend it for all Middle-Earth fans. 

The magic in LOTR (and The Hobbit, for that matter) comes from a higher being, a god figure, named Iluvatar, meaning “Father of All.” Whether Tolkien meant this or not, he modeled Middle-Earth muchly after our own world, with a higher being that is mighty and amazing, a lord who is without description. Iluvatar is the one God and creator of Middle-Earth, and he is the one who gives the magic to his servants, namely Gandalf and Saruman. 

With this magic, the wizards are instructed to do good and help people, and the consequences of neglecting that charge and using the magic for their own good are horrible. For example, Gandalf uses his power to aid Frodo, and later Theoden and Aragorn, to accomplish goals that are for the good of all men, dwarves, elves, hobbits, etc. The Grey Pilgrim’s staff helps keep the Moria orcs and the Balrog at bay while the Fellowship flees the mountain, and then the White Wizard breaks the spell that keeps Theoden in its dark hold. In the end, Gandalf is rewarded with passage on the last ship sailing out of the Grey Havens.

In contrast, Saruman uses his power to contact Sauron and form an alliance with him. His keen mind of metal soon aids him to build a strong force of Uruk-Hai with which he plans to destroy the people of Rohan. However, he did not foresee his losing the fight, and the Ents becoming another ally against him. His denouement is ultimately death, and all at his own hand, because he misused the magic that Iluvatar gave him, intending for him to use it for good, rather than for personal gain.

So, who uses magic in LOTR? Mainly, we’re looking at Gandalf and Saruman. These two wizards are part of an elite group known as the Istari, bluntly meaning messengers. The Istari were given power from Iluvatar, again, to benefit others, but even while men call them wizards, they do not call themselves by that name. When the Istari first appeared in Middle-Earth, the people were so confused by their existence, as the power these messengers had was not something they could comprehend. It was unlike anything they had ever seen before. And it was these men who, in their ignorance, gave the Istari the name of wizards.

At this point, you may be madly jumping up and down and waving your hand, yelling, “Kiri! Kiri! What about the Elves? Don’t they use magic?” Well, let me tell you. The Elves, in fact, do not use magic. Now that’s a little dumbfounding, but it’s true. What we would describe as “magic” Tolkien described as the Elves’ natural ability. A talent, if you will, not connected to anything supernatural at all. Tolkien himself disliked using the word magic as a definition, but there was nothing else that would have been close enough to even begin describing that talent. They build amazing structures and dwellings, craft beautiful weaponry and paraphernalia, can see long distances, and are gifted with incredible hearing, yet that is all just their natural ability. Again, we fall back on the blunt understanding of men. They could not describe it, so they dubbed it magic.

One thing that I greatly admire about the magic in LOTR is that it is distinctly set apart as magic of a fantasy world. You have to realize, folks, that magic is real, and it’s a dangerous thing. We should not allow ourselves to partake in it, and we must understand that sorcery and witchcraft are evil. Yet, the magic in LOTR, I already explained, is not some dark power that people use whenever they wish. The ones gifted with the talent of being able to wield it are given specific instructions on how to use it, and it is clearly not their own power, but the power of a supreme being who is set up as the one true god figure. The Creator gave them that magic, and they, in turn, can only use it for its intended purpose. 

And how does this tie in with my post? Well, you see when readers get their hands on a book that they absolutely enjoy, they want to do everything exactly as the characters do it. When reading books that contain witchcraft, that becomes a dangerous desire as the lead characters promote the use of such sorceries. However, when a thick line is drawn between our world and the world inside a storybook, readers better understand that some things cannot be copied, and thus the magic that happens in Middle-Earth cannot be conjured up by some avid fan. No, the power there, my friends, can only be granted by a higher being, and nothing we can do by ourselves can alter that. 


Now I realize that was perhaps a lot to digest all in one post, but I thank you all for reading. This topic has long been of great interest to myself, and it’s one that I did rather a lot of research on it in the summer of 2012 (you can read my original post here, also in which I contrast the magic in LOTR with the magick in Harry Potter). 

Thank you so much, Eowyn, for inviting me to guest post! I had a lot of fun!

Kiri Liz is the rambling author of Lianne Taimenlore and a couple other blogs which she does her best to remember that she has. A homeschool graduate of 2011, she likes to spend her days madly typing at random stories on her laptop (which her family has kindly dubbed “Precious”), pounding away HTTYD and Pirates of the Caribbean songs on the piano, singing as many Disney songs as she can recall as loudly as she can, sewing medieval costumes from her own design and people’s old T-shirts, and spending time with her wonderful parents and siblings, the latter of which she happens to be number two of six. She currently lives under a maple tree, hoping one day to be a real, published author, and waiting anxiously for the release of The Hobbit: Desolation of Smaug.

Evil in Middle-Earth

There are many amazing heroes in Lord of the Rings, among them Aragorn, Frodo, Bilbo, Eomer, and, of course, the awesomeness that is FARAMIR. But heroes must fight against something, and there are some exceptionally good villains in LotR and The Hobbit.

First and foremost is Sauron, the Big Bad Guy who pulls all the evil strings in Middle-earth (actually, he’s commanded by Melkor from The Silmarillion, but we won’t
go into that now). It’s never fully explained what sort of creature he is, but it’s made pretty clear that he’s very powerful. He controls most of the dark forces in Middle-earth, and of course, he has the One Ring, which is what causes the whole trouble. With this ring, he has the power to do pretty much anything, but the ring was lost, luckily for Middle-earth. And when it’s found again, it’s put into the capable hands of hobbits. Sauron expends a lot of his energy trying to get the ring, but SPOILERS of course he fails. END OF SPOILERS.

Sauron’s most powerful minions are probably the Ringwraiths (or Nazgul, or Black Riders): nine men (we think they’re men, anyway – as Strider tells us, they’re “neither living nor dead.”) who have been twisted into Sauron’s service and given special powers. They were created especially to track down the
nine Rings, and are one of Frodo’s chief problems. Their leader, the Witch-king of Angmar, is cruel and powerful, and cannot be killed by any man. In one of the most amazing scenes in Return of the King (both movie and book), he attacks Theoden and kills him (or rather, causes his horse Snowmane to crush him), but is then slain by Eowyn with the help of Merry. None of the other Ringwraiths are given specific histories or names, but they all have great capacity for evil by themselves and are doubly dangerous (nine times as dangerous?) when they’re together.

Saruman is one of the turned-to-the-dark-side kind of villain; he was originally the head of the Istari, a “White Wizard”, but at some point (it’s never revealed exactly when or how) he becomes corrupted by Sauron and switches sides, while still remaining in a position of trust. This makes him one of the most dangerous forces in Middle-earth. When it is revealed where his allegiance truly lies, he is, of course, deposed, but he goes and takes refuge in Orthanc with his slimy assistant, Grima Wormtongue. In The Return of the King, his stronghold is attacked by Ents. In the movie, he is killed then; in the book, he survives and is reduced to a beggar, along with Wormtongue.
In Cirith Ungol lives one of the most creepy villains ever dreamed up: Shelob. She’s a giant spider who feeds on the blood of any who pass by her lair, whether they’re orcs, men, dwarves, or whatever. She stings them just enough to knoc them unconscious, before wrapping them completely up in her sticky web and…are you shivering in revulsion yet?
A bit on her history: she has an ancestor, Ungoliant, who appears in The Silmarillion, a just-as-huge arachnid who does Melkor’s bidding, but later nearly kills him, showing just how powerful she is. Also, Shelob’s name is “She + lob,” lob being an old English word for spider. Thus, “she-spider.”
Other notable villains are Wormtongue (who is Saruman’s pawn and does a lot to corrupt King Theoden’s mind), Gollum/Smeagol (the “misunderstood” villain – every movie has one of these!), and the orcs (which are the evil minions Saruman basically made).

I’d Like to Thank All the Little People

The major characters of a book are often more interesting than the minor characters, although, of course, there are exceptions. This makes complete sense, at first thought. You see, the hero and/or heroine is usually extensively developed, given a background and a future and a full description, while we are only given a glimpse of secondary characters. Words here, a glance there, are all we get of their character in most cases, leaving them free to our own imaginations and interpretations.

However, this is not so with Tolkien. While he doesn’t often describe his characters’ physiques, he does give us an unusually extensive look at their personalities, and thanks to the handy Appendices of The Lord of the Rings (not to mention the many other books he wrote about Middle-earth), we know a lot about their pasts and what happens to them as well. Minor characters in The Lord of the Rings are well-developed flourishes that add depth and context to the story, and this is one of the reasons why The Lord of the Rings is such a good book.

legolasOne of the most popular minor characters is, of course, Legolas the Elf. This may be mostly due to Orlando Bloom’s portrayal of the character in the film version (which, while not exactly canon in some places, was still admirable no matter whether or not you like Legolas), but Miss Jane likes Legolas’s character in the book as well. (Eowyn does not agree. ;)) Being an Elf, Legolas is otherworldly, seemingly impervious to cold, hunger and wounds. In the movie, he is represented as being an unstoppable fighter, although Tolkien actually doesn’t say anything about Legolas’s prowess in battle. Although Legolas is an Old Solemn Elf (he’s far older than Aragorn, who is eighty-seven!), he has quick wit and a sense of humor, as well as being extremely loyal to his friends.

Gimli is also another one of the popular minor characters, although not as well knowgimlin as Legolas or Boromir. Gimli is a Dwarf, and highly proud of it. He boasts about what his cousin, Balin, can do for the Fellowship in the Mines of Moria, however, he’s the most reluctant one to go into The Paths of the Dead. Throughout the book, Gimli is a fighter, unable to stop until justice is done. He is, for some reason unbeknownst to the less-enlightened movie-watchers-only, at odds with Legolas for most of the trilogy. (For the Less Enlightened – see The Hobbit. The movie or book will do.) By the end of Return, Legolas and Gimli have struck up an unlikely friendship that carries on until they die. This friendship is greatly expounded on in the film, but we love it nevertheless. Gimli has quite a few memorable lines in the movie, too, the most-quoted being, “But it only counts as one!”

boromirBoromir is quite a character. While not nearly as awesome as his younger brother (Miss Jane says, “But then, who is?” To which Eowyn replies with a hearty and resounding, “AMEN!”), he has many fine qualities, including honor, loyalty, courage, and caution. But he is also stubborn, headstrong, prideful, somewhat spoiled, and endowed of a hasty temper. These flaws all cause him to nearly destroy the quest to destroy the Ring. He is angry that he doesn’t get to have command of the Ring, and wants it taken to Minas Tirith to be used instead of being thrown into Mount Doom. When neither of these wishes are gratified, he keeps working for them, trying first persuasion, then force against Frodo to get the Ring. Frodo flees from Boromir, and Merry and Pippin immediately run off to find him when they discover that he is gone. Aragorn commands Boromir to follow Merry and Pippin and protect them. Boromir obeys, and redeems himself for his past actions by sacrificing himself in battle when Orcs attack Merry and Pippin.

theodenTheoden, the King of Rohan, is the “good King” of sorts, compared to Denethor. In his prime, he was vigorous and healthy, respected and loved by everyone. However, when he gets a new advisor, Grima Wormtongue, he gradually comes under the power of Wormtongue (who secretly works for Saruman), and falls into depression and decay. When Gandalf and Co. come to ask for help in The Two Towers, he initially refuses them. Finally, Gandalf reveals what Wormtongue really is and Theoden banishes him from Rohan, after which he leads his country into battle against Saruman, proving his valor several times. He challenges the Witch-king to battle, but is killed when his horse, Snowmane, falls on top of him.
Note: this Theoden is book-Theoden. The Theoden of the movie is quite different in several ways (he is actually possessed by Saruman, he is aware of Eowyn’s presence at his death, and he has to be convinced to lead Rohan into battle by Eomer, to name three), and while still an interesting character, we don’t find him to be quite as heroic or admirable as he is in the book.

eomerEomer is next on the list of minor characters. (Eowyn has recently fallen in love with him, but this is partially due to her love for Star Trek and finding out that he and Bones are both played by the same actor, Karl Urban.) He wasn’t fleshed-out as much in the movie as he is in the book, which makes his character still likeable, but less awesome. Eomer is the nephew of Theoden and the brother of Eowyn. Eomer is known for his passion of the fight and his willingness to do anything to see justice served. He is banished from Rohan by Theoden, yet still comes to fight after Theoden is back in his right mind. The scene in Return when Eomer found his father and Eowyn on the battlefield, dead and dying, and starts sobbing is one of the most heart-wrenching scenes in the entire trilogy, in Eowyn’s opinion. Not much more about his character is shown after Aragorn is crowned king, but he is once again made the head of the Riders of Rohan and, we assume, lived a happy life.

Yes, this is a random picture of Faramir, because Beregond wasn’t in the movie. ;)

Yes, this is a random picture of Faramir, because Beregond wasn’t in the movie. 😉

Beregond is one of Miss Jane’s favorite characters, despite the scarcity of scenes with him in them (this may or may not have to do with the fact that he saved Faramir’s life at the risk of his own…*cough* He is highly valued in Eowyn’s eyes.). He’s a valiant, brave warrior who forms a deep friendship with Pippin, and he’s a good, affectionate father. He’s loyal to his leader (Faramir), and would be willing to follow him into death. He fights alongside Pippin in the final battle and, although he ends up severely injured, wreaks a fair amount of havoc in the enemy lines. Sadly, both he and his elder son, Bergil, were left out of the movie, but he’s a pretty amazing guy in the book.

And, of course, there’s Figwit. Who is Figwit, you ask? See below.  (He shows up at around 1:40.)

Figwit (which stands for Frodo Is Great, Who Is That?) was played by Bret McKenzie and, apparently, got sooo much of a fandom that he was brought back for The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey. We don’t really know why he’s so awesome, but we’ll join in the fandom anyway, because, hey, it’s Lord of the Rings!

Special Guest
Paragraph from Eowyn’s sister, Bea:

haladirWell, my sister asked me to tell ya’ll about Haldir. He is awesome. Elrond was against helping Theoden with protection. But the ‘high elves'(Aka; Galadriel and whatever the other bored elf’s name is.) He honors the long ago alliance between men and elves. To quote the minor, but still amazing character “An Alliance once existed between Elves and Men. We are here to honor that Allegiance.” In his small bit of screen time he was able to insult Gimli, a fact which makes him pretty awesome, ’cause Gimli isn’t my favorite. He is also a pretty good shot. *Spoiler Alert* Sadly this character meets his death in the battle that he so readily assisted. Helm’s Deep was where the noble elf met his death. I have just now looked in the Appendix to see if Haldir was related to anyone special. But as far as I can tell he’s not. If someone knows better I’d love to know. Just comment below, and I’ll read it sometime. All in all I think that Haldir isn’t really a random little character, as Eowyn thinks. He is rather a good character who honors old ways and dies fighting for what he thinks is right.(That is a ‘good’ way to die.) Of course he wouldn’t have died if that wretched orc hadn’t attacked him..FROM BEHIND! Oh, I cried when he died. Little characters can make a big impact especially when they die… can’t they? Well…I can’t really think of anything more to say about him, sooo… that’s all!