Tolkien Tuesday #18

~ 17 May 2022 ~

Welcome to this week’s Tolkien Tuesday…Today we begin chapter 10, I muse on Middle-Earth inspired artwork, and make a little confession, before wrapping up with a creative-writing themed question of the week. Go and get a cuppa. I’ll wait… πŸ™‚

The Reading, and Ensuing Thoughts

This week we began Chapter 10: Strider.

The three hobbits return to their parlour and find Merry is not there. It is only then they noticed that Strider has followed them in. Introductions are made and Strider reminds them that Frodo promised to have a quiet talk with him, though he adds, what he has to share comes with a price. This raises their suspicions, but Strider tries to allay their fears by saying all he wants is to come along with them.

Naturally, Frodo isn’t keen on allowing a stranger to join them and this act of caution pleases Strider. He then proceeds to tell them what he knows: that he overheard them talking to Tom Bombadil and heard the name Baggins, and that he followed them into Bree and tried to get an audience with them at The Prancing Pony, but Barliman Butterbur would not grant it or give them a message.

Strider also reveals he knows what Frodo is carrying and that its secret means very much to his friends. He warns them of the danger they are in, that there are enemies even in Bree, and that tomorrow they must flee and he offers to guide them along hidden paths to their destination. Before more can be learned or revealed, they are interrupted by a knock at the door by the landlord.

Butterbur, a busy and forgetful man, has remembered (at last) he has a letter for Frodo from Gandalf from three months ago and forgot to send it on. He also warns them that people (including Strider) have been asking after the name “Baggins”.

Photo by Pixabay on Pexels.com

One of my favourite lines in this chapter, though there are many, is when Butterbur, who seems to understand there is something dark going on but doesn’t actually know what it is, points out that the hobbit’s behaviour isn’t as low key as it should be: “…your party might be on a holiday!”

Next week we conclude Chapter 10: Strider.

Middle Earth Musings and Meditations

This week I’ve been thinking a lot about The Lord of the Rings / Middle Earth illustrations and artwork that I’ve come across over the years, and how interestingly, the majority of it always seems to resonate with me in some way. It’s not often (and I can’t actually recall a time), when I’ve seen something and thought, “No, that doesn’t look right at all!”

Perhaps there is an element of most post LOTR film trilogy artwork that I’ve seen, made by fans especially, to be influenced by the aesthetic of the film and the artists involved with them. But seeing as though I liked the aesthetic of the film, and the set design, character costumes, and pretty much everything visual resonated with me and brought to life the story more or less as I imagined it, it’s easy to see why.

Have you ever come across LOTR artwork that you just didn’t like?

Elsewhere

Not much to report here this week. The only thing I read outside the first half of chapter 10 was the second half…yes, I was weak and had to read it all! πŸ˜‰

The Lord of the Rings Question of the Week:

From a creative writing viewpoint, what is the most important lesson you’ve learned from Tolkien?

World building. The more you know about the world your story is set in, the more realistic and believable the narrative will be. World building not only provides structure for a story but it adds dimension to it and reminds the reader how interconnected aspects of life are. Readers want to see what the character sees, to hear (snippets of) languages the people of that world use, to understand the laws of the land, to listen to its history, to understand the rules of magic and know what is – or isn’t – possible, because these things influence your plot and subplots.

This doesn’t mean that you have to know every little detail about the world. Of course, that wouldn’t be constructive for most authors, and (if I remember correctly) Tolkien deliberately left his Legendarium incomplete that others could later add to it. But having a working knowledge of a number of different aspects of that world will be beneficial to you and your story in the long run.

12 thoughts on “Tolkien Tuesday #18

  1. I have indeed come across Lord of the Rings artwork that has me screaming “no!” I love the landscape artwork, but it is depictions of the characters in any medium I cannot stand. Because I have my own visioning of the characters, other renditions often do not connect with me.

    Liked by 1 person

    • That’s a great point, Jaya, and I can see why your opinion differs between landscape artwork and depictions of the characters. It’s much harder to get the places wrong, I think, but far easier to portray the characters in a way that feels wrong πŸ™‚

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  2. I haven’t seen much Tolkien-related art, a few book illustrations and Tolkien’s own art, and so far I liked it all. What regularly blows me away is the artwork at the end of the movies (which I watch at least once a year). The art and the music get me into a mental state far away from here and now and when it’s over I have to reluctantly shake myself back into reality.
    The lesson: Yes, totally world building. And foreshadowing. And I admire how he juggles all these characters. What I don’t like is the underlying classism and racism. Product of his time but still… I also find it interesting that his writings (afaik) mostly are about the same world. I know there’s the Beowulf story and a few more children’s books but all the rest? It’s one big saga. Like the early version of a franchise. Can people who write about different worlds and genres ever do such a good job at world building, I wonder. TAnd would people even want to get immersed in such a wolrd in this fast-paced age? here’s the Game of Thrones world, I suppose…

    Liked by 1 person

    • I have to agree. The artwork at the end of the films is mind-blowing, and as for the soundtrack…love it, love it, love it!

      “Like the early version of a franchise” That is an interesting point, Gabi. I had never thought of it in those terms before, but now you mention it, it makes perfect sense πŸ™‚

      I must admit, I am loathe to get acquainted with new series these days. I don’t have the time to invest in them unless I really, really make the effort. And besides, there’s too many books I want to read, that I don’t have the time to read them all. So a long series or a very long single book does tend to put me off…

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  3. Worldbuilding certainly has to come high on my list; and creating languages; drawing on folklore; and the use of multiple POV characters to add tension (while you follow one, what’s happening with the others?)

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  4. Starting with your question, about what creative lesson I’ve taken from Tolkien, worldbuilding is the top of my list, as well. He was such a master at that! The result is a completely immersive feel into a world that feels real and lived-in, with a long history that comes out in bits and pieces, with lore and songs and customs.

    My internal image of Strider/Aragorn may be the most influenced now from watching the Peter Jackson movies. Viggo Mortensen gave such a compelling, charismatic, nuanced embodiment of that character that I love the character in the book even more now. On re-reading the book more slowly this time, I noticed how hard it was to perceive the Strider character as the hobbits would have seen him, because I already know who he is. To them, he could have been any Ranger, just one of many mysterious men who know a lot and happen to know Gandalf. It is only slowly revealed that he has a special role to play, and a special story.

    I enjoyed seeing more of Sam being protective and brave here, too. I was impressed that he says to Frodo, right in front of Strider, that they shouldn’t trust him. And he’s right to be cautious! Funny how I relate to Sam and his cautious ways so much more now that I’m older; when I was younger, I thought he was being a fuddy-duddy because I wanted to get off on an adventure, whee! I also don’t remember noticing in previous reads how much Strider encourages them to be cautious, even against him. Smart man.

    I’m not sure how far you are counting as the “first half” of the chapter, so this might be in the next half, but the “little” (as in, not noticed before or famous) line that jumped out at me this time was when Butterbur says he’s willing to help Frodo, although he’s not sure what “the likes of me can do against” such evil forces. Strider says, “Against the Shadow in the East… not much, Barliman, but every little helps.” That struck me as an important theme throughout this book, both that the little people (the hobbits) will be so helpful even though people underestimate them, and the idea that little acts of kindness and bravery (and also their opposites) add up over time in the war against Evil.

    Liked by 1 person

    • So many great insights and observations here, Joy πŸ™‚

      “a completely immersive feel into a world that feels real and lived-in” I think you have this exactly right. It’s familiar enough for the reader to feel part of it, yet different enough for the reader to want to know more about it. A perfect balance πŸ™‚

      Yes, Strider encourages caution almost to his own detriment, and Sam doesn’t shy away from making his feelings known, which I think is really important. He is not afraid to speak his mind.

      “every little helps” – that sums up the book, really, doesn’t it? Lots of little things get the big thing done πŸ™‚

      Liked by 1 person

      • And every little helps in terms of buildng the story and the characters up layer by layer, too — something I am understanding so much better on this latest, much slower, read. What a great idea, Sammi!

        Liked by 1 person

  5. I haven’t seen much of the art related to LOTR – but then, I do not have your level of obsession πŸ˜‰

    I enjoyed the first half of this chapter, knowing, as suspected, that Strider is someone our Hobbits want on their side (Like I said earlier, I am reading this almost like it’s a first time since it’s been so long.) Even if I know he is, it is nice to rediscover it.

    As for world building, I am simply in awe. There are so many elements, and I suppose, if I were wont to, I could look into the maps and whatnot to help me picture it all. I should think that’s where one such as Tolkien had to start. Fascinating and delightful.

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  6. Ha ha πŸ™‚

    I envy you being able to read it almost like it’s the first time. I couldn’t do that now, but I remember how wonderful the story was when I first read it, and there will always be part of me wishing I could recapture that πŸ™‚

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