Category: jrr tolkien

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Elvish Months of the Year: August

In the High-Elven tongue, the eighth month of the year was named Úrimë (Urui being its Sindarin equivalent). Now, the root úr— comes from the Quenya word úrë, meaning ‘heat’. From this, we can conclude that Úrimë was the month of hot weather.

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July—another month gone by, and with that comes a new Elvish Lesson. So in the High-elven tongue, the seventh month of the year was named Cermië (Cerveth being its Sindarin equivalent). As to the meaning of that name, there are actually surprisingly few references. However, in my research I did discover that one of the meanings of the Quenya root ‘cerm’ is ‘to give’. By this, I’m assuming that Cermië was the month of harvest or plenty (though don’t take my word for it).

As for the above picture, July always reminds me of Lothlórien somehow.

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Gríma Wormtongue: Behind the Name

In Old Norse (as well as in modern Icelandic) the word gríma refers to a ‘mask’. This is an effective name choice for the character as it serves to emphasise his treacherous and deceptive nature. He is, as a manner of speaking, hiding behind a ‘mask’, pretending to serve the King of Rohan while, in reality, working as a spy for Saruman.

On a much more obvious note, the name Wormtongue, of course, refers to a snake—often seen as the archetypal traitor throughout history, particularly in reference to the Bible. (e.g. In Genesis, it was a snake, after all, that tempted Eve into eating the Forbidden Fruit in the Garden of Eden.) In The Lord of the Rings, of course, Wormtail, very fittingly, uses his powers of speech to deceive the minds of those around him with poisonous lies (and frequently succeeds at it).

Thus, the name Gríma Wormtongue couldn’t possibly be more suited to a traitor. In his own linguistic way, Tolkien practically named him Traitor McTraitorson.

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The Lord of the Rings Is Not a Trilogy

The Lord of the Rings by J.R.R. Tolkien is often mistakenly called a trilogy due to the fact that it was published in three sittings. This however was not a deliberate wish on Tolkien’s part, but rather something which the original publishers decided on for economic reasons.

Following the Second World War, the UK experienced paper shortages, meaning that there was a limit to the amount of paper that each publisher could print in a year. So instead of publishing this beast of a 1000-page novel all in one sitting (which would significantly affect their quota), the original publishers Allen & Unwin decided that they would publish the book in three volumes over the course of about a year to maximise their quota. This would allow them to see how well each volume sold, thus giving them a rough idea of the existing demand.

All in all, The Lord of the Rings remains a stand-alone novel. The only reason it was split into three parts was for economic purposes. It is not nor was it ever meant as a trilogy, and Tolkien certainly never saw it as such.

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Why J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World Is Only Semi-original

As much as I enjoy the Harry Potter series, I’m afraid I would be lying to you if I told you that its somewhat excessive praise doesn’t bother me at times. Indeed, since its first publication, J.K. Rowling’s Wizarding World has continuously been hailed by readers and critics alike as the most cleverly constructed fantasy world of all time, which I believe is a somewhat unfair statement considering the vast amount of material which the author directly borrowed from other fantasy sources. In that sense, you could even say that J.K. Rowling’s creation is only semi-original, half of the work having already been done for her.

Before I get started, I would just like to stress the following very briefly. I am not trying to offend Harry Potter fans, nor am I trying to say that your love for these books is unjustified. In fact, my criticisms have very little to do with the actual story of Harry Potter, most of them being centred around the world building instead. All I’m suggesting is that the next time you decide to praise J.K. Rowling, you may like to keep it in mind that none of the magic ever would have been possible in the first place had it not been for the likes of numerous fantasy authors from whose material J.K. Rowling has borrowed (and profited) rather freely.

In this post I would like to pay homage to one such author: J.R.R. Tolkien, who is perhaps most famous for his high-fantsy epic The Lord of the Rings, to which many of J.K. Rowling’s supposed inventions can be traced back.

Parallels between The Lord of the Rings and Harry Potter

A young, orphaned protagonist who grows up in his uncle’s household:

• Frodo Baggins — Harry Potter

A wise old man who acts as said protagonist’s mentor:

• Gandalf — Dumbledoor

A formless dark lord, newly arisen following a long period of absence (in which many believed he had perished):

• Sauron — Voldemort

Protagonist’s loyal best friend who ends up saving his life through the use of a sword:

• Samwise Gamgee fights off Shelob using Sting/Using the Sword of Godric Gryffindor, Ron destroys Slytherin’s Locket after it nearly drowns Harry

Object(s) into which the dark lord has poured his life source, allowing him to exist as long as they remain in tact:

• The One Ring — Horcruxes

Jewellery that has a corruptive influence on the wearer:

• One Ring — Slytherin’s Locket

Cowardly traitor with the word ‘worm’ in his name

• Womtongue — Wormtail

Cloaked servants of evil who are drawn to the protagonist:

• Ringwraiths — Dementors

Small, pale, wretched being who becomes bound to the service of the protagonist:

• Gollum — Kreacher

Protagonist is left scarred for life following their encounter with evil:

• Frodo wounded by the One Ring/Ringwraiths/Shelob — Harry left with a lighting-bolt scar following his encounter with Voldemort as a baby

Old and reclusive beings associated with stars and prophecy; notoriously difficult to reason with due to their detached nature:

• Elves — Centaurs

A secretive and forbidden Forest in which danger is said to lurk:

• Mirkwood/The Old Forest — The Forbidden Forest

• Mirror of Galadriel — The Pensieve

• The Phial of Galadriel — The Deluminator

• The Elven cloaks — The Cloak of Invisiblity

• Giant Spiders — Acramantulas

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I recently read Tolkien’s Tales from the Perilous Realm, a collection of short stories and poems that comprises some of his earliest delves into the realm of fantasy. Though mostly unrelated to his Middle-earth stories, it was fascinating to see how some of these early ideas of his would later find their way into the The Lord of the Rings, often in subtle and surprising ways.

The above picture shows an excerpt from my favourite poem, ‘Errantry’, which bears a striking resemblance to the ‘Song of Eärendil’, composed by Bilbo in the House of Elrond during The Fellowship of the Ring.

• Excerpt is from Tales of the Perilous Realm (Deluxe Edition), beautifully illustrated by Alan Lee, who was also a conceptual designer on the Peter Jackson films.

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Thus May comes to an end …

Speaking of May, did you know that the fifth month of the year was named Lótessë in the High-elven tongue? Lothron was its Sindarin equivalent. Both were derived from the Elvish root loth, meaning ‘flower’, in reference to the blossoming typically associated with this time of year.

As Samwise Gamgee once put it:

In western lands beneath the Sun

the flowers may rise in Spring

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Describing Lord of the Rings Characters Badly

Frodo: Must have done something really horrible in his past life. 

Sam: Makes your own friends look like cabbages.

Pippin: YOLO.

Merry: Also YOLO, but knows when to draw the line.

Gandalf: Salty AF; eats death for breakfast.

Aragorn: Will find an excuse to bring his heritage into anything and everything.

Boromir: Pin-cushion for orcs.

Legolas: *I’m sensing something*

Gimli: Has no filter.

Elrond: Makes a lot of good points. Too bad no one listens to him. 

Arwen: Has a literal death wish.

Galadriel: A bit cryptic, but all right once you get to know her. 

Saruman: “Knowledge is power”.

Gollum: Looks like a pale malnourished frog; has a bit of a dark side.

Éowyn: Middle-earth Mulan.

Faramir: Has daddy issues.

Denethor: Source of said daddy issues.

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mindful-of-books:

The Silmarillion and Unfinished Tales by J.R.R. Tolkien

These Harper Collins editions are bound using Tolkien’s original watercolour illustrations

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The waters of The Lord of the Rings 🌊

Designed by @tolkienenthusiast

Stock photo credits go to respective owners