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review 2017-12-12 04:35
Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's The Hobbit (Audiobook)
Exploring J.R.R. Tolkien's "The Hobbit" - Corey Olsen

Corey Olsen is the Tolkien Professor and has a great podcast where he discusses all things Middle-Earth. It was his podcasts for The Hobbit that first got my attention several years ago. It was slow going, about one or two a month, but it's not that long of a book, right? Well, then he got sidetracked. :D No harm, I got to listen to his brilliant lectures on The Silmarillion and hear some great live discussions about LOTR. Over the years, I lost track of him, but I'd think about his The Hobbit series from time to time. So when I saw that he'd compiled all his The Hobbit podcasts into one audiobook, I had to snatch it up. I originally intended to listen to his analysis instead of rereading the books - as I mentioned, it's not my favorite of Tolkien's works, but I still love the world and the mythology related to it, and somewhere buried under the narrative style is a great work of fiction. I just need someone as enthusiastic about it as Professor Olsen to help me see it. 

 

He does one analysis per chapter, following along with Bilbo's development over the course of the book and his various adventures, dissecting the songs and riddles, and highlighting all the themes and narrative devices. He also goes into the development of the dwarves, the elves and the various other characters they come into contact with. He mostly sticks to The Hobbit, but he ties it in with Tolkien's other works where appropriate. He breaks down each chapter into sections and subjects, and I think that even if you haven't read The Hobbit it'll be easy to follow along.

 

The only downside to this audiobook are the technical blips. None of the analysis is lost of skipped over, but there are quite a few instances of repeated lines. This could've used an extra pass through quality check. If you can overlook that - the repeated lines are very brief - then I would still recommend giving this a listen. It's great for those who love The Hobbit or, like me, love the world of Middle-Earth and enjoy discussing the events within the book even though the writing style and POV isn't quite to my liking.

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text 2017-12-10 05:10
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XVIII. Of the Ruin of Beleriand and the Fall of Fingolfin
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

The Noldor, strong and numerous, fair well in their alliance with Men.  For about five hundred years at least.  Time gets a bit wonky when dealing with the conniving of immortals, and "patience" becomes a bit relative.  I can't even say that Morgoth was really patient by waiting five hundred years because he built up his resources until he reached "good enough," and rushes out to burninate the countryside without really evaluating his plan.

His opening salvo is fire, rivers of flame, volcanoes, dragons, and Balrogs.  Morgoth's forces wrecked destruction on their unprepared enemy, but many retreated and regrouped, to strengthen those further away from the front and fortify defenses.  Fingolfin beholds the apparent destruction of his people, and calls out Morgoth in challenge.  Their fight is one of legend, a fight between demigods.  Morgoth rends the earth with his hammer, while Fingolfin springs away from Morgoth's blows, wounding Morgoth seven times.  But in time, Fingolfin tired, giving Morgoth the advantage, and three times he strikes Fingolfin down, until after the third time he arises, Fingolfin falls.  He deals one final wound to Morgoth, cutting off Morgoth's foot before he dies.

The hostilities continues for years, and sees the rise of Morgoth's servant, Sauron and the expanded use of Morgoth of not only spies but thralls and deceptive recruiting, claiming sympathy and then betraying.  Morgoth would also take captives and enslave their minds, only to let them "escape" to return home under his control.

These years reshape the landscape of Middle Earth, as Morgoth's power expands, battles rage, and the holdings of Elves and Men shift and condense.  Rulers fall and their heirs take on their mantles.  A decade of a war of attrition, with no clear victor, but many gains by the aggressor held off by determination and blood.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/12/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_10.html
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review 2017-12-04 03:22
The Hobbit (Audiobook)
The Hobbit By J.R.R. Tolkien, Rob Inglis(A) [Audiobook] - Author

Narration: 5 stars

Story: 3 stars

Average: 4 stars

 

Oh, The Hobbit. Twenty pages of plot, two hundred pages of madcap adventures, only one of which has any significance. It's a fun story but nowhere near as in depth as Tolkien's other works, which makes sense since he wrote this for his son and his son's friend. And it shows. It's a worthy read, but it requires you to really like Bilbo - which I don't particularly. Balin is cool, and Thorin's arc is pretty interesting, but they're really the only other characters worthy of note. Well, except Gandalf, but we all know he was barely involved. All he did was give Bilbo a little nudge out the door. ;)

 

This definitely didn't need to be three movies totaling nine hours run time. Eleven of the thirteen dwarves were just filler and didn't need their own stories. The Battle of Five Armies wasn't even that important. That's why Bilbo slept through the whole thing! But we all know PJ is trash for an action sequence. :D

 

Rob Inglis does a great job with the narration. I wasn't completely onboard with some his voice choices for the characters - why is Balin an alto? - but he made up for it by going full force on all those ridiculous songs.

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text 2017-11-29 22:45
Silmarillion Blues : Quenta Silmarillion : XVI. Of Maeglin
The Silmarillion - J.R.R. Tolkien,Ted Nasmith, Christopher Tolkien

I suppose it's semi-redundant to say any particular chapter exists to introduce characters and set the stage, as we're reading a "history" text... but this chapter introduces us to characters and sets the stage.

The really short summary is the daughter of Fingolfin goes on walkabout, gets ensnared in a marriage, has a kid, then goes back home, sacrifices herself to keep her kid alive, and her kid brings glory to the Noldor while slowly becoming consumed with envy and anger.

Aredhel Ar-Feiniel, the White Lady of the Noldor, daughter of Fingolfin, once roamed far and wide in the realm of Valinor.  Now she lives within the bounds of Gondolin, under the rule of her brother Turgon... and after 200 years she's had enough of living in one spot.  When asked for permission to explore again, brother dear wanted her to do so his way.  If you haven't noticed by now, Tolkien rarely writes women who simply concede to what the men around them want.  So Turgon sends his guards to protect her, and she ignores them utterly and does her own damn thing.

Her walkabout brings her up against the Girdle of Melian, where she is barred entry (see last week's entry), so she continues around.  Along the way she loses the guards, and continues on alone until she meets the people of Celegorm who welcome her and invite her to stay on until he returns.  She stays for some time, but too restless to stay and so moves on and ends up in Nan Elmoth.

We've been in this wood before, back when Melian and Thingol met.  However, the days when Melian walked through these woods are long past, and it grew tall and dark, blocking the sun from its floor.  In these woods Eöl, kin of Thingol and known as the Dark Elf, resides since the Girdle of Melian went up.  For all that Eöl resented the the Noldor for the return of Morgoth, the role he plays in this story is more akin to the Noldor than his own branch of Elven kind.  He loves the twilight and shadow, night and the stars.  He, like someone else I could name, created masterworks with metal, devising Galvorn, a black and shining metal "as hard as the steel of the Dwarves, but so malleable that he could make it thin and supple; and yet it remained resistant to all blades and darts."

So, Eöl sees Aredhel in the wood and desires her, casting enchantments so that she wanders the woods until she finds him, and he takes her as his wife.  Consent here is a bit dubious, though they live in peace together for some time, and Aredhel shuns the sunlight, wandering far together at night with her husband, or alone, as long as she does not seek out the other Noldor.  In time, she bears a son whom she names Lomion, or "Child of Twilight" in the Noldor tongue, his only name until his father names him Maeglin, "Sharp Glance," at the age of twelve.

I can't imagine Eöl particularly liked hearing anything spoken in the Noldor tongue, and the fact that he names his kid after twelve years makes me really wonder about the father-son relationship for those twelve years.  Even with functional immortality, those first few years of life have to make an impression.

Maeglin spoke little, saw much, and learned all he could.  His mother told him tales of her kin, and in the telling, awoke a desire to see them again.  Maeglin also grew curious about his kin, and he and his father fought, Eöl wanting nothing to do with the "slayers of our kin, the invaders and usurpers of hour homes."  Tolkien doesn't really tend towards milquetoast characters central to the narrative, and if we consider this chapter a narrative in itself... we can make some guesses about how this all ends.  That's right, Eöl goes off, and then Aredhel and Maeglin go off their own way.  When he finds them missing he follows in pursuit, meeting little sympathy from those he encounters and receiving the earnest suggestion that he leave his family alone lest things end poorly for all.

The prodigal daughter and her son are received warmly, and perhaps because she's one of the first elves of even comparable age he's met (and perhaps because she is actually gorgeous), Maeglin develops a massive crush on Turgon's daughter.

Unfortunately, they were followed too closely and Eöl finds his way in full of wrath.  Turgon greets
Eöl as kin, but insists that the law be followed and Eöl must stay.  This goes over poorly, and Eöl argues vehemently for his son's return.  I'm not sure if this indicates quite how poor their marriage was or that Eöl considers Aredhel her own woman.  When told he must "abide here, or to die here; and so also for your son," Eöl decides that death of his only child is preferable to his son being raised among the Noldor.  Dude, maybe you shouldn't have married into the Noldor then.  Aredhel sacrifices herself, intercepting the javelin thrown at Maeglin, later sickening and dying from poison on its tip.

Maeglin becomes a great boon to the Noldor with his skills at metal craft learned from his father, and proves both deadly and fearless in battle.  Unfortunately he loves his cousin, Idril, who is not only too closely related but cares not for him.  So it is that Maeglin lets envy and jealous wanting corrupt himself, and so brings corruption into the heart of the Noldor... of which I am sure we will hear more of in chapters to come.

Source: libromancersapprentice.blogspot.com/2017/11/silmarillion-blues-quenta-silmarillion_29.html
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review 2017-11-04 00:00
Beren and LĂșthien
Beren and LĂșthien - Christopher Tolkien,J.R.R. Tolkien,Alan Lee Probably of value only to Tolkien nerds who've read the Silmarillion enough times to remember how it goes. I'm more or less in that category, and really enjoyed successive versions of the stories laid side by side. I took a long break from it when I hit the verse form version, as there are only so many rhyming couplets a girl can take, but even that really picked up in the later sections. I'm sorry that it was never probably finished. Overall I liked the (almost) first version with the Prince of Cats the best, as it was so whimsical and fey. I wish the original version survived. Alan Lee provides his usual gorgeous art.
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